Churnings of the Mind: What is Chitta Vritti?
Most people in the West associate yoga with the practice of asana– the well-known postures that yogis contort themselves into. There are many obvious benefits to Asana practice and health benefits of yoga in general: it relaxes and strengthens the muscles, increases flexibility, deepens breathing capacity, helps correct posture and generally supports the health of the spine and rest
of the body.
But the practice of yoga is designed to work on multiple levels. As you are relaxing and strengthening your physical body, the practice of yogic breathing and concentration begins to access the subconscious mind, and thus begin the subtle but powerful emotional and spiritual transformations that yoga students talk about.
The Subconscious and the Monkey
In Yogic philosophy, human suffering originates in ´chitta vritti´, which roughly translates as ´the churnings of the mind´. Mental or cognitive energy was understood by ancient yogis to be an incredibly powerful force, but one that can cause deep habits. These habits can often distort reality.
These habits move from the conscious mind : “I smoke joints on the weekends, because I enjoy it and it feels good”, into the subconscious mind: “If I don´t smoke a joint at night, I get anxious and can´t sleep.” In the subconscious mind, thoughts can become inaccessible, entrenched and sometimes unhealthy.
Obsessional or addictive thinking, unquestioned likes/dislikes, unhelpful attachments and negative thinking are all symptoms of the subconscious contorting itself into specific forms and then being unable to return to its original fluid, responsive state. As our thoughts jump from topic to topic or branch to branch, much like a monkey, it is easy to become misdirected, confused and overwhelmed.
This is where hatha yoga and vinyasa flow yoga comes in. These classes and our new Hidden Language Yoga class are all designed to help discover the power of the subconscious mind so that we can ultimately use it for good in our lives and in the world.