The science of yoga provides a system for categorizing our emotions. Those categories are defined by the emotional quality, or rasa. Those 9 rasas are:
For the next installment from the series on my recent trip to India, I’d like to share my personal experience with these emotions in Vrindavan.
Vrindavan is the ancient Indian city where it’s said that the Hindu Lord Krishna spent his childhood days. There are many temples dedicated to Krishna in Vrindavan and we had the opportunity to experience these temples as a place of living sacrament. Devotees crowded into the temple to chant, read sacred texts and leave offerings to the male form Krishna, and the female form Radha.
In our Insight India 2016 trip we had the fortune to experience this city firsthand. Our homework assignment during the trip was to reflect on our experience up to that point through the lens of examining our emotions according to the rasa classification system. I found it to be a useful exercise for exploration and recorded a mini-episode that I’m sharing with you here. The YouTube video for this episode includes the video segment of the recording., showing the numerous monkeys that co-inhabited the ashram where we stayed. This includes one brief clip of a monkey walking right past me as I was recording – fear and wonder captured live!
Looking back on the experience now it’s been interesting for me to note how my emotions associated with the experience there have changed in character in various capacities. I think this is a useful metaphor for observing how our emotions change in character with time. Taking the time to tune into the emotional disturbances of the mind gives us an opportunity to use our intelligence to determine what caused these disturbances. It also teaches us pathways for resolving these emotional disturbances based on our previous experiences. These are referred to often in the psychological world as coping skills.
Does the system of rasa yoga provide a framework for understanding better your emotions? Feel free to explore this with an open mind and see when these emotions occur in your life. Which ones happen more often and why? What physical sensations occur as these particular emotions arise? How do we feel as they resolve? Which ones drive us further from our state of balanced emotion or equanimity? Enjoy the practice of rasa yoga for all the teaching it offers!