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THE BIG BOOK OF YOGA: CAVEAT MEDITOR

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you will the way of humble appreciation. But remember, that's okay. It's nothing to beat yourself up over. No one is saying that this reaction - or any of the other one's well talk about in this section - is wrong, just a sign that there's room to grow. Yoga doesn't expect you to be anything more than you are - rather, it offers you the possibility of a gradual transformation into your higher potential. With luck, just having these points in mind will sow the seeds for future change.

Glowing Auras

The next level of benefits may seem a bit dubious to those who haven't experienced them. But not to worry, we're not out to convince anyone of anything, one way or the other - rather, we propose you go out and practice! And if these effects do eventually come up for you, then we hope that this section may be of some use.

If you recall back to Chapter Two, when we discussed the progression of practices in Hatha Yoga, you'll remember that first in line are the primarily physical exercises (asana and shatkarma), and then come the energetic, or pranic, techniques (pranayama, mudra, bandha). The effects of practice generally tend to show up in the same order, so after some of the physical benefits kick in, there starts to be an

increase in your energetic capacity, too. Since the koshas aren't entirely independent from one another, it's true that you will probably see some very general energetic effects showing up along with the physical ones - it's just that they grow deeper and more pronounced as your practice progresses. So aside from simply feeling more energized, in higher spirits, or perhaps less tired at the end of the day, there are subtler aspects of pranic development that can appear as well.

For one thing, Yogis often report feeling more empathic, meaning they pick up on the emotional resonance of people

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around them more automatically. Over time, a balanced Hatha Yoga practice should naturally begin to afford more control over this "emotional radar", but it can be quite disconcerting at first! In addition, you may begin to feel more connected to the natural flow of life around you - the currents of prana in the air, the sunlight, water, trees, and plants. The world becomes a more vibrant place, more alive to your newer, clearer senses.

All of these effects can be quite beautiful - just as your physical body can upon its Yogic blossoming. Again, the danger comes not in the effects themselves, but with how you choose to use and develop these new sensitivities. Just about everyone who has these sorts of things show up, goes out and experiments with them a bit. It can be quite intoxicating, however - try to remember that whatever new toy you've found to play with, it is simply another expression of life energy, of prana. And remember too, that the goal of Yoga is to bring your pranic flow to a place of stillness; messing around with pranic potential can be interesting, but ultimately it just creates more stimulation. It is definitely possible to get stuck at this level of Yogic development, and to continue to develop your abilities on the pranic level, without ever really growing deeper into spiritual awareness. Be mindful of this!

Radiant Spirits

One of the more curious things about human spiritual development is that it seems we have something like a built-in preview function embedded in the layers of our subconscious.

There are countless stories of ordinary people being catapulted into "peak experiences" of bliss, inner peace, vast spaciousness, or rapture - oftentimes purely out of the blue, or else with very little training in Yoga or any other spiritual discipline. These are such common experiences that several psychologists and researchers have devoted their careers to studying their nature and significance7.

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