Finding Ananda - Bliss
Side bending stretches our peripheral body and creates more space for our breath to move into. Opening our side body allows prana (life force energy/breath,) to move more freely through us. Our breath becomes multi-dimensional. And so do we. And so do our lives.
Backbends of all levels- mild, medium and hot- are wonderful chest openers. My favorite, shown above with the two blocks as props, can be made mild with the legs bent and arms by your side or is so-spicy-you-get-numb when held for a prolonged amount of time as pictured. (About ten minutes.)
Don’t let how relaxing this pose looks deceive you, this pose is so effective it will not only do wonders for your posture but emotionally and spiritually open you heart. Warning: after opening your heart your approachability and charm and its strong effect on others may be alarming at first.
Anandamaya kosha is our bliss sheath and is the innermost sheath of five sheaths that layer outward from our true self, our inner light. The outermost layer is the Physical, Annamaya kosha. In Sanskrit Anna means food and though the Yoga Sutras do not outline a specific diet the importance of what we consume is emphasized. I think Yoga Sutra compiler/author Patanjali would have agreed with author, journalist, activist Michael Pollan: "Eat food. Not too much. mostly plants."
Remember!!! The only reason we pay attention to, care for and improve our physical bodies is so that we can get the body out of the way so it is no longer an obstacle to us finding our inner Bliss. It is so our legs don’t hurt when we sit for hours in meditative ecstasy: a means to an end, not an end within itself.