There’s this whole risk of the yoga bait-and-switch, right?
Going forward in the physical practice has this tendency to trip people on to an orthogonal pathway.
Their momentum starts pressing down, instead of forward.
There are layers. Koshas or something. What I have seen, or heard about, in long-time practitioners is a patterned un-layering. Here’s a rough generalization of many cases. It’s going to sound vague, but these are the words I can find. I’m not using any of them lighly.
Breath-posture + bandha + drste weirdly (and usually unexpectedly) synthesize into OneSinglePractice. I saw someone with crazy natural ability find this within a year once. But it often takes takes thousands of hours of practice (1) with a good teacher and (more importantly?) (2) alongside practitioners who are more subtle than oneself. There are people for whom this has not happened after 10 or 20 years of rigorous practice. Who knows; maybe these folks are actively blocking tristhana with compulsive thinking or emoting. Maybe they just don't accept that drste is as central to the method as breath.
Anyway, if tristhana finally arises, what this seems to deliver next is the subtle body. Somehow. Which eventually, somehow delivers exquisite awareness of the emotional body. Or sometimes this might come before subtle body. Whatever. People have different experiences. After subtle and emotional layers are awake, there’s pretty soon some new information about the shared nervous system of all humans. Then a lot of information on this. And then not just humans but everyone with a nervous system. And then, if the medium of experience becomes some finer sort of energy, it starts blipping on everythig without a nervous system too. (Sometimes weird stuff happens here: a few people have described going from love of all breathing creatures to love that's less mammal-centric. Or, time and space become sort of fluid because energy’s unevenness is apparent.)
Somewhere in there, the unmanifest starts showing up. Even though it’s not supposed to show up. Not supposed to exist. By definition! But the unmanifest, it might send emissaries. Ghouls, for instance. Some people get nicer emissaries. Or just direct feelings of nothing.
Whatever shows up, it slow-mo chases a person into the perfection of the unmanifest… and straight through it into THIS. Experience as it is, here, now, enough. Where a person is whole, because the apparent opposites have been unified.
That's actual yoga, right? Some people have gone the distance and now have yoga going on most of the time. I am not among them. But I have practiced with and alongside them; and I am following them. These humans are both complete and transparent. They do not have big holes in their lives, nor do they have dark rooms where they keep parts of themselves.They are more able to give, less defensive. More grounded, less sure of what that even means. They are energy-efficient beings. Most of them aren't somebodies, because they don't waste energy advertising themselves. They have a little less skin in the game.
Unlike ALL THE REST OF US, they are not using practice to fight off the unseen, the unwelcome, the unwanted, the unknown.
When the layers open up like that, a person lives with not much tension or resistance. It shows in the way they move, relate, breathe, speak. Their yoga feels strangely natural, highlighting the force, and neurosis, and negativity other humans to leverage ourselves through each day.
Let's say entropy runs the universe, but it’s not alone. Signs point also to self-organization. Evolution. Autopoiesis. Nature running its course leads to death, and at the same time to life. The sophisticates who have done the work and then just let their awareness open up… who are have the discipline to stay open and let stuff continue to happen to them… these are the ones who are more alive than we are. If we are halfway-awake, we know when we are sitting next to one of them. What they produce in us is not the anxiety that celebrity or latent daddy/guru issues calls forth under our skin, but a presence and ease that tamps down any tendency to worship them or make them into gods. Maybe a deep intelligence in us gets the feeling of not knowing.
We do not know what death is. Maybe we do not know what life is either.
There is a safe, effective method for preventing kosha prolapse. To avoid Union and its attendant hazards for your personal identity, moral superiority, grasp on reality, coherent metaphysics, secure personal ontological status, and “dedicated” commitment to getting the next pose and (the same thing) getting authorized, do the following:
Know things. Act knowing. Be circumspect. Know what’s next. Know how it works. Know your anatomy and physiology and astrology and psychology and theology. Know who is the enemy. Know who to belittle. Know what it’s all about. Review the knowledge. Know the correct vinyasa for sarvangasana. Know the words to Nicki Minaj songs. Know the way to San Jose.
Knowing will keep the rational mind (and physical body) contracted around the self. Knowing will keep the heart from getting too big. Knowing will make it easy to assert power over the practice, other people, and over the environment. Knowing is what seals over the kosha rabbit hole.