The subtle body is where things can get hippie dippy quick. It’s what inspires videos like this from Funny or Die. According to legend, it was discovered by mystics turning inward. (History apparently has a more mundane answer.) Modern anatomy and neuroscience are starting to tell a more fascinating story. Essentially, it’s your energy, all that is unseen within you.
In yoga practice, you may start out feeling your way through your physical body, noticing your sit bones when seated. Feeling your palms on the mat in Downward Facing Dog, your feet on the earth in Tadasana. By the end of class, you may find yourself feeling your intention in your body, or maybe it’s a feeling of openness at the heart, a feeling of determination at the belly, maybe even fearlessness. Welcome to the subtle body.
Subtle Body: The unseen energy centers, the 72,000 nadis (energy meridians throughout the body), the chakras (energy centers said to be wheels where the nadis meet), the koshas (sheaths, or layers of the body such as the physical, breath, mind, heart). It’s what prana flows through or where it gets blocked; it’s where we store our emotions, every thought we’ve ever had and where we begin to feel our way into new thoughts and new habits.
Usage: Breathe into your heart center (or name another body part). This is accessing the subtle body, as you can only breathe air into the lungs, but you can bring focus and prana to your 4th chakra or another energy center or layer of the body.