Yoga identifies five dimensions in our human system: the physical or annamaya, the energetic or pranamaya, the intellect or manomaya, the personality or vijnanamaya, and the emotional or anandamaya. The word ananda, in the emotional dimension, is translated as “joy that never stops.” This level of our system is capable of joy because it is not linked to habitual ways of thinking that cause suffering.

Habitual patterns of thoughts may be things such as ruminating over regrets about something in the past, or thoughts of failure because we have less than our friends, or fears about our future or our children’s future. When our minds our engaged in these kinds of negative thoughts, we feel constricted, ill at ease: we cannot experience joy.

Since yoga acts on all the different parts of our human system, doing postures, simple breathing techniques, and using sound or other tools of yoga can allow us to see negative patterns of thought and help free us from them and the frustration and unhappiness they engender. Over time, an appropriate, regular yoga practice helps us to see those things creating “non-joy” so we may let go of them, and those things linking us to that joy inherent within us. Through our yoga practice, we can choose to move toward what is positive, toward what nourishes joy at our deepest level.