Have you ever watched a baby move and play, content and exploring their world? If you observe their fingers and toes curl and reach, the look of fascination on their faces, it’s clear that being inside a body is meant to be pleasurable.
So, where does that embodied pleasure go as we grow up? As someone who has struggled with ongoing pain, I’ve developed many theories on the loss of embodied pleasure. Where do we lose touch with it? Why? And most importantly, how do we get back to it?
Over the years, I’ve devised multiple maps to navigate our way back to enjoyable embodiment in simple and achievable ways. One map that holds a special place in my heart is rooted in yogic philosophy—the integration of the Koshas through somatic breathwork. It’s amazing how an ordinary act like breathing can profoundly impact our body awareness and presence. Mindful somatic breathwork goes beyond the yoga mat, infusing our lives with calmness and connection.
What are the Koshas? If you are new to yoga philosophy, the Koshas are simply—and not so simply—the layers of the self, such as mental, physical, etc. They intricately intertwine and encompass the entirety of our human experience. By understanding these different layers, we can begin to understand the connections between mind, emotions, and our physical body in new and empowering ways. These explorations offer a pathway to rediscover the profound pleasure of embodiment.
What is somatic mindfulness? “Soma” refers to the physical body, and “mindfulness” means being fully present. With somatic mindfulness, we intentionally direct our attention toward the direct experience of the body, embracing whatever we find in the present moment. It’s a practice of meeting and embracing the range of sensations that arise, becoming gently curious about the subtle dance of breath through the layers of self.
To integrate the Koshas through somatic breathwork, we embark on a journey of mindful attunement to the breath’s impact on our physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. Just as a baby curls its fingers and toes in delight, our breath becomes a pathway to reclaiming pleasure. Exploring the sensations and experiences that arise with each breath, we gain insight into the interconnectedness of our physicality, emotions, and spiritual essence. Mindful somatic breathwork aligns and integrates these aspects, fostering wholeness and well-being.
A simple and effective way to begin this integration is by establishing a connection between the higher mind and physical body. The philosophy suggests that breath subtly moves through each of our Koshas, linking body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Focusing on the felt sense of breath allows us to tap into all the different layers for healing.
Take a moment right now to connect with your breath, exploring its movement through the layers of your body, mind, and emotions. Let your fingers, toes, and body move freely, guided by the subtle power of the life force in your breath. Trust the breath as an intelligent force that connects you to the source of embodied pleasure, or your “bliss body.” Even if you’re experiencing pain, the bliss body can respond to the movement of the breath, taking the form of bliss, compassion, or gentle nurturing of aches and pains.
Breathwork then becomes a catalyst for this process of integration and intercommunication between the different Koshas, linking the “superpower” of each layer one by one. Through conscious breathing, we cultivate self-awareness and compassion for ourselves and others. Peeling back the layers of the self, we foster a loving relationship with every aspect of our being, all the way down to the smallest particle and our deepest pains, up to and including our cosmic connection, which we tap into through our “bliss body.”
Using these potent and ancient tools, we can even reach out as far as the cosmic body and follow the prana in the breath back to the physical body. This practice regulates our nervous system, aligns us with our truest selves, and embraces the beauty of powerful emotions like awe and gratitude.
I would love to invite you to embark on this transformative journey with me. Integrating the Koshas through mindful somatic breathwork offers a profound way to reconnect with the lost pleasure of embodiment. By mindfully attuning to our breath and embracing the interconnectedness of our physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions, we unveil the path to wholeness and well-being. Click here to be taken to the community practice page to register for upcoming workshops!