A Sutra a Day: III-39 – Levitation and More

Nov 19, 2012 | Philosophy, XSutras, xTmp, Yoga practices, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali | 0 comments

The Sutra of Patanjali are full of interesting constructs and concepts which might just be every bit as helpful in modern times as they were in ancient history.
For instance, Sukhasana and Sthira – ease and firmness – are reminders of how to balance our lives when we’re off the mat as well as on it.
Ten Yama and Niyama add up to a code of ethics that can help us sail through life in a skilful way.
Today’s sutra is a rather strange sounding one but it is better understood when seen as predicated on a scheme that links our bodies and our energy:

Uddana-jayaj-jala-panka-kantaka-adisv-asanga utkrantis-ca

Through the mastery of the up-breath [the yogin gains the power of] non-adhesion to water, mud or thorns and [the power of] rising.*
The sutra is actually pointing to the five major areas of the body and to how Prana – life force – flows through them.
The regions are:

  1. Prana – the heart region
  2. Samana – the abdominal area
  3. Apana – the pelvic area and legs
  4. Udana – the head and neck
  5. Vyana – pervading all parts of the body

In Sutra III-39, it is said that the up-breath empowers the yogi to rise physically, meaning, to levitate.
In Bernard Bouanchaud’s commentary on the Sutra, he says that this rising vital energy – Udana – can help elocution by dispelling excessive saliva (water), mucus (mud) and sudden irritation (thorns).
The result is then, amazingly, clear speech, avoidance of accidents and, at the limit, influence over one’s death.
*The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali, translation and commentary by Georg Feuerstein..

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