One of the key distinguishing traits of a yoga practice against other physical, spiritual or mental disciplines is the focus on the whole of a person – not just their body, but their mind, emotions and energy as well. Yogis see this as a five layer representation of the body, the so called “Koshas” or “Sheaths” – the physical body, the energy/pranic body, the mental/thought body, the wisdom/intellectual body and the bliss body.
Collectively the four non physical layers, the bits we can’t touch, are the subtle body. Although not directly touchable, they are not beyond influence – all of our yoga practices touch on aspects of the subtle body, most notably our breathing exercises, pranayama, meditation and mindfulness practices and our relaxation (pratayahara) – and of course our postures – asana – do not exist in isolation in the physical body as they too touch the subtle body.
This book is about explaining the subtle body, principally through the chakra model, and looking at ways our yoga practices can influence parts of the subtle body. Its part reference book and part practical, and you get a sense of the authors passion for the topic. The author takes us through physical and energetic anatomy of the body, practices to influence the subtle body, and observations about their effect.
This would be a useful book for anyone seeking to expand their understanding beyond the asana dominance of a typical yoga class, and wanting to explore for themselves some of the more subtle effects of yoga. A word of caution though, its not a simple book and some knowledge of the subtle body and/or support of an experienced teacher / mentor would be useful.
Its also a useful book for established yoga practitioners – you never stop learning, and in this book the author brings in some useful new slants on existing understanding and practices, pairing of chakras and the vital role of the repository diaphragm in regulating prana – the life-force and energy of our subtle body.
In all a useful book, not one to rush, and maybe one to return to.