In yoga, we look at a human being as five sheaths or layers of body. Three – the physical, the mental and the energy body – are physical realities; maybe subtle but still physical. The other two – the etheric body and the bliss body – are in a different realm. The etheric body is a transition from physical to non-physical. The bliss body is purely non-physical. The physical body, the mental body and the energy body carry karma. But the etheric body and the bliss body do not have any karmic substance because they are non-physical. The physical dimension of existence happens between cause and effect. But what is beyond the physical does not happen between cause and effect. So, the moment you begin to taste the divine, suddenly, it doesn’t matter how many heaps of karma you have, it has no impact on you because you are beginning to step into the realm of the non-physical where there is no karmic substance.
When you do any kind of conscious breathing processes like kriyas and pranayams, you are trying to exercise the etheric body – that dimension of you which has a physical element in it but is not physical. You are trying to strengthen that because you want that to become a passage, not a barrier to the non-physical dimension of who you are. There are various other aspects to it in terms of physiological and psychological benefits, and the spiritual dimension, but one simple aspect is, if this dimension, which is the link between the physical body and the non-physical dimension that is the very source of creation, becomes a strong force by itself, then the physicality of who you are, the psychological structure that you call as “myself,” and that dimension which is the source of all this will naturally be connected all the time. The idea is that Divine is not an idea or belief in your life, Divine is a living presence in your life. That is the basis of sadhana, that these three are well integrated and connected on a moment-to-moment basis. We are not looking for highs or a once-in-a-way experience, we are looking for constant contact with that dimension. Only then it finds expression in the way you live, in the way you exist, in the way you can do things – in everything.