Care and Feeding of The Joy Body

This post’s theme is the care and feeding of your Joy Body. In Yoga Therapy, we call this the anandamaya kosha, the body where bliss and joy circulate.

What is a Joy Body and do I have one?

Everyone and every sentient being has a Joy Body. You know it through its presence. When you are awed by beauty; when your mind and spirit are elevated; when you feel your heart glowing with love; when you feel expanded and connected to all; when you feel whole and full. It is a state of bliss.

Can I grow my Joy Body?

Of course you can! Think about the things that bring a smile to your face and a spring to your step, and do more of them more often. Do something to feed this body every day. Perhaps it is travelling, spending more time with loved ones, volunteering for a cause you are passionate about, music, dance, yoga, art, prayer, meditation, cooking, gardening, being in nature, receiving or giving a massage….the possibilities are endless.

But I’m so busy with work, daily life and duties….how do I find the time?

I believe that we can all find 5 minutes a day to sit or lie down quietly to connect to our deepest Joy. You can concentrate on what you love, an inspiring memory, object (like a candle flame or your heart center), spiritual role model, a beautiful sunset, or your breath. Breathe smoothly and gently, and tap into the feelings of peace and joy that arise. Feed this with your breath, and imagine your bliss spreading out in waves to every organ and every part of your body and mind. Exhale to clear your channels, and inhale Joy to fill every cell right down into its nucleus. Warning: 5 minutes might easily stretch into 10 or 15!

What are the benefits of feeding the Joy Body?

A healthy Joy Body optimizes every cell of your physical and spiritual being. Bliss nourishes your nervous system, your immune system and the harmonious functioning of all your organs. It reminds us of our true nature, and builds our resilience on every level. We can meet life’s challenges with more ease and creativity, instead of getting bogged down and stuck. We become more buoyant and more radiant over time. Icky stuff slides off more easily instead of clinging.

FYI, a radiant Joy Body can be contagious!

People, animals, plants and situations around you will start waking up to their own sparkle. Things will flow. Think of it as a Super Power that can help make this world a better and sweeter place for all. And now, how many ways can you think of to feed your Joy Body?


Psoas Love

photoIn my experiential anatomy classes, I often ask students to write a love letter to an orphaned or neglected part of their body. The purpose is to shift the relationship into one of appreciation and joy. Because that’s where the magic happens……

Here is a recent letter of my own, as I continue my personal journey of deep listening.

Beloved Psoas,

We’ve been together for a long time. I thought I knew you, but now I realize I was just scratching the surface. I see you with new eyes, I listen to you with new ears and I feel you in new ways. You are teaching me so much.

You have been very patient with me. Thank you for being there and never giving up on me.

I thought you were all about strength and core stability. I have flexed you and stretched you in oh so many ways, always looking for an optimal balance of strength and freedom. Now I am learning about how to release you. Time to let go.

You are my tenderloin, my filet mignon, my Chateaubriand. This is a most succulent cut of meat: it is juicy and delicious. I humbly apologize for misunderstanding you. I have spent years toughening you up and overworking you. I am truly sorry. Please forgive me.

I have inadvertently saddled you with a lot of tensions. I didn’t know any better. I’ve held you tight during lunges and backbends, and I’ve stuffed anger and fear into your fibers in an effort to armour myself against emotional and psychological attack. Thank you for shielding me and holding me together while I worked things out.

I see that a new level of intimacy is called for, and it’s time for me to take loving care of you. I am grateful for the inspirations and resources that are presenting themselves to open the way.  Over the last few days I have been introduced to the concept that your nature is to be soft and quiet. Some people call you the “muscle of the soul”. How beautiful is that! It speaks to your wisdom and power, and to a new paradigm.  As I take a few baby steps towards understanding you better, and allow you time and space to soften, you reward me with such generosity. You gift me with a sensation of quiet, juicy spaciousness in my groins and deep abdomen. Tending your softness, I explore ways to move my thighs without disturbing my pelvis and lumbar spine. It feels so free! When I stand up, my legs feel like long ribbons that pour down from above. My quads feel longer and I feel sleeker. Walking feels fluid. My breath and mind are peaceful. I want to feel this way all the time.

I confess to feeling a little nervous about all of this too. I’m scared of losing our newfound sweetness together, and of falling back into old habits. One change sets off a cascade of other shifts and adjustments….what will the future hold? I already feel stirrings of connections to old holding patterns in my back just behind you, and I am noticing how different you are on the left and right sides. I’m excited to hear what my organs and nerves will have to say about all of this.

I sense we are embarking on a long, deep journey together. I’m sorry that it’s taken me this long to find you. Please forgive me for the pain I’ve caused. Thanks for keeping me safe all these years. I love you and bless you.

yours in Love,

Shakti plays with QiGong!




What is Shakti? She is the creative and vital energy of the Universe. She flows like moving water that encounters no obstacles. Why not? She flows around them and continues her journey, following the openings that reveal themselves. Often these openings take her, and us, in completely new directions! One door closes, yet another opens. I know this has been true many times in my life. Is this true in yours?

Shakti has her own mysterious and delightful ways of moving through the world and through our lives. I just try to do my best to listen. So far she has taken me on some wonderful journeys that have always proven to be enriching, expansive, revelatory and healing. She has led me into dance, yoga, Tarot, QiGong and time with horses.

These days, I play QiGong daily, and like to experiment with how it blends with yoga. My conclusion is that they complement and enrich one another beautifully.

Qi is another name for our vital energy,  in the same way that as Shakti and Prana are. When we are in the pink of health, this energy is juicy and abundant. Gong means cultivation. The shaking, tapping and cupping of QiGong wakes up circulation and awareness of all body parts, which makes all yoga poses sing. Positive visualization is synchronized with rhythmic breathing and simple movements, promoting healthy self-reflection and an opportunity to brush away old habituated ways of thinking and moving. New possibilities emerge. Health and wellness flourish. Eyes sparkle and there is a spring in one’s step. Joy grows.

When people ask me “what is QiGong?”, my simple and direct answer is to say it’s “Chinese Yoga”. They’re both about cultivating harmony in breath, mind and movement. They’re both about self-empowerment and wholeness, and they offer us a recipe for vibrant health inside and out.