‘It begins with a tickle and ends with a blaze of petrol’.
I’ve become a heavy breather. A hefty exhaler. An uninhibited sigher, catching the high notes as they roll down the back of my throat. Purring at the end of the exhale and letting the ripple take a soft seat in my cells. I think it started in meditation. Bliss trills would surprise me and trail out in whispers. That moment when everything settles down and you can really exhale for the first time.
It feels like a profound recognition where I’ve connected to the deepest part of myself and inside that stillness is a flash of ecstasy where my body says ‘YES!!! You made it!!! Welcome home’. They say transcendence of the body is one way to enlightenment but it’s through the body that my spirit and I first met. It was through the breath. And, in particular, the exhale, that we came to be more intimate.
‘To enjoy, one needs a body.’ Wise words, Jacques, and I’ll be careful not to veer too far into the sticky multiplex of psychoanalysis but the concept of jouissance is something that marked Lacan’s work and it resonates for me. It makes sense of the physical and spiritual bliss I experience through meditation and yoga, ‘that delight in living that goes beyond mere animal pleasure’. And that’s just it. Yoga is a state of being, a felt experience and you can try to explain it to people but the only way to understand yoga is to practice it. To taste the sweet and simple joy of connecting to the deeper levels of your body and your being.
Described by Marina Benjamin in The New Philosopher, jouissance is ‘an experience that begins in the body but then pervades the mind’ or ‘the embodied joy of being alive’. Lacan himself described jouissance as ‘an essence, related to being, at the level of the body’, Seminar XIV, 31st May 1967.
And Owen Hewitson notes on lacanonline that ‘Lacan concurs with Freud’s definition of the pleasure principle as “a principle of the least tension, of the minimum tension that needs to be maintained for life to subsist”’. And exhale. The least tension. That place of sweet release where we can experience the embodied joy of being alive.
And yoga can be that tickle that ends with a blaze. As we move from the physical to the expansive. From form to formless. From sensation to bliss. From learning how to align a Warrior II to having your heart cracked wide open and finding it flaming luminous. Moving through the koshas – the layers of our being – to experience the jouissance, or in yoga, the sat-chit-ananda. The bliss-consciousness.
To learn a little more about the koshas and to feel more of this bliss that belongs to you, I’ve uploaded a short, all level class. It’s a 35 minute meander around your core to expand your backbends and travel on down the rabbit hole through the portal of your heart ❤