Part V: Ashtanga Yoga – Understanding the Eight Limbs of Yoga and Bitcoin (3 through 8)
3. Asana – physical practice and static/seated posture: Asana is probably the most recognizable feature of yoga that westerners recognize. This includes the physical practice of yoga, moving your body through a sequence of postures. Interestingly, there are only a couple of asanas mentioned in Patanjali’s original yoga sutras. Many of the physical poses were later developed in the last century, first by Sri Krismacharyia and his disciples. These include set sequences like ashtanga yoga (Pattabhi Jois), the flowy sequencing vinyasa yoga, the longer holding of postures of hatha yoga, the slower practice of yin yoga, and many more. Probably the most comprehensive and descriptive list of asanas are written in BKS Iyengar’s book Light on Yoga, which includes very detailed alignment instructions. Yoga also has many roots in healing, which TKS Desikachar, Sri’s son, embodied in his practice—read his book Heart of Yoga for more insight. Asanas are poses that are guided through breath and body positioning, and can also include bandas (energy locks) and mudras (hand movements). Most will recognize asanas like downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) and mountain pose (tadasana). Each asana has a sanskrit name that helps describe it.
Although bitcoin is digitally native money, there are many physical aspects to it, including running a node, mining, buying goods at a local shop, or spending bitcoin in circular economy. At first, Bitcoin could be mined on a simple laptop (CPUs), but as more and more energy was being contributed to mining, individuals started using graphic cards (GPUs), and now application specific units (ASICs). Anyone who has mined knows the familiar hum of trillions of hashes per second. Another physical aspect of bitcoin are the signing devices or keys that are used to physically store your private key offline. Learning and practicing physical asana practices takes time, just as taking physical custody of your own bitcoin takes time and effort to learn the best practices for security. It is interesting that understanding “how to” of both bitcoin and yoga are earlier steps towards ultimate freedom and enlightenment. Hatha yoga also provides a guiding set of asanas that many yogis today have practiced and continue to work on. There is no “perfect” in yoga, so it is all about continuous learning and improvement of the practices. This phenomenon exists in bitcoin too – as you dive deeper and learn more about the true freedom and sovereignty aspects, technical details and societal implications, it encourages individuals to continue to learn, improve and build, often as a hobby. Many yogis also continue studying yoga through a yoga teacher training course. Even if you aren’t going to teach for a living, this can be a great way to deepen your practice.
4. Pranayama – breathwork, control/mastery of life force energy: Prana translates to life force energy; pranayama practices utilize the breath to align our mind, body and spirit. Your prana is not limited by time or space. Prana flows throughout your nadi channels in your body. The core seven energetic points are called chakras and are aligned along your spine, from the base of your tailbone to the crown of your head. Pranayama breathwork practices help you move towards a meditative state by removing blockages and enabling a free flow of energy throughout your being. Similarly, bitcoin is powered by our life force energy in all its forms, whether it be hydropower, oil and gas, geothermal volcanic energy, wind or solar power converted into electricity to run bitcoin miners. The network is the most powerful computer network on the planet. Through innovation on layer two of bitcoin, the Lightning Network enables individuals to send value anywhere on earth at the speed of light. One can open up a channel to anyone else and send their energy in the form of hard earned value to another. Just like prana, transferring value is now not limited by time or space. The 10-minute block cadence is a masterful innovation that establishes time for a distributed network without a centralized entity. I recommend reading Gigi’s Bitcoin Is Time piece for a deeper analysis. When we breathe together in the same space, we also feel the energy or prana of people around us, as there are many energetic signals that flow chakras. There are many ways to practice pranayama, powerful breathing techniques that have been passed down for generations. Control of the breath and your life force energy enables you to continue on the path of yoga, and each breath brings you to your next moment. Likewise, without physical energy being expended on the continuous hum of computers specifically designed to run the SHA-256 algorithm and mine, and individuals making the decision to run a node, bitcoin would cease to exist.
5. Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses: going inwards. It is at this stage that we move away from our natural perception of our external environment using our five senses of sight, taste, smell, hearing and touch, and focus our attention on our inner body, mind and soul. Here we tap into a power that only we control and is always accessible to us so long as we are willing to do the work and dive deep. Going down the Bitcoin rabbit hole is a similar experience, forcing you to challenge your preconceived notions of what is money, unlearn what you were taught in school, and enable a way to store value that had never been possible in human history. Going inwards, you can store your wealth by memorizing your seed phrase - 12 words that are linked to your private key; that unlocks your bitcoin on the network and enables you, and only you, to spend it. Unlike gold, it cannot be taken by force nor fall prey to confiscation or theft; there are more potential private keys than there are atoms in the universe. At its core it is a string of 256 1s and 0s. Withdrawing from the fiat banking system and truly removing counterparty risk is now possible, just as it is essential for us to move inwards if we are to meet the state of unity consciousness. As you go inwards, you see the world differently through this lens. One realizes that we are constantly being fed external stimuli that distracts us and often takes us away from understanding our true nature and connecting with source. Pratyahara is an important step in moving towards connection and bliss, and ultimately individual sovereignty.
6. Dharana – single pointed concentration/focus. Here we focus our attention with laser-like focus on one thing – whether it be your breath, a mantra, affirmation, or idea. By homing in, we slow our mind and reduce the number of thoughts racing through our head. It can be difficult to quiet the mind—it takes practice—yet is attainable for all. We can think of Bitcoin’s dharana as focusing on doing one thing well – adding new transactions to the time chain every 10 minutes. Without the bells and whistles of scammy shitcoins, or other knock-off cryptocurrencies based on bitcoin’s original white paper, the bitcoin network continues to produce block after block. “Tick tock, next block” is a common phrase amongst Bitcoiners, as it signifies the consistent focus bitcoin has on continuously ensuring the establishment of a truth of transactions. You would need to wield more power than the rest of the network combined to change the past. In this way, bitcoin transactions become stamped into a transparent ledger that anyone can view. This focus is a crucial feature in moving towards a meditative state. This brings of the point of being clear on what really matters. What matters to me is a loving relationship with my wife, Erin. What matters is that we are spending our days living in alignment to our purpose. What matters is that every time you spend your value - you are supporting the world you want to see. So, invest your time in what matters most to you and create that reality for yourself. Focus on your breath. Set a mantra or affirmation that you can focus on to move into a meditative state.
7. Dyana – meditation: movement towards becoming one with the object. The object in our meditation practice is tapping into our inner being, letting go of our ego, and moving from our thinking, analytical mind into our subconscious mind. The subconscious represents 90% of our brain capacity, while only 7% is used in our analytical or thinking mind that forms the stories and basis of our perceived reality. The remaining 3% is in our brain steam and core autonomic functions. By moving into meditation, we have relaxed our autonomic nervous system and can now work on connecting with our soul. The analogy to bitcoin is the network effect of each bitcoiner that starts moving towards the object of a sound money, establishing the base layer value transfer protocol of our society. There are many ways to move into meditation, and each resonates different with each person. There are 8 billion humans on earth, and there are 8 billion ways to meditate. Each individual will have their own experience, and this meditative state can be measured through a change in brain waves. We are all energetic beings, and by choosing to use bitcoin, we are entering a network capable of fair value exchange and access to financial services for 8 billion people. Yogis have passed down to their students’ different ways to reach this stage on the yogic path. Ultimately no one else can meditate for you – you have to decide to take yourself into this state. We are moving towards oneness of the final stage of Ashtanga Yoga, samadhi.
8. Samadhi – Liberation/absorption, oneness, unity consciousness: The realization of samadhi is broken down into further characterizations, but to describe samadhi overall, it is the feeling that one has when one is absorbed in love and the energy of a unity consciousness in the universe. The yogis have well documented deep descriptions of this feeling state of absolute bliss, liberation of self, freedom and oneness. I believe that the bitcoin network is a universal consciousness that we can all tap into, a truth in an ever-deceiving world. It connects 8 billion humans in the world through intersubjective value, not based on trust, but based on math. Samadhi changes your mind, body and soul that can lead to an altered state of consciousness. These transcendental, spiritual experiences can lead individual towards significant behavior change in their life, an increasing feeling of being welcome, warm and love. While the state of samadhi will not last forever, there are many stories of yogis leaving their bodies through their crown chakra after entering this final state of samadhi. That sense of liberation of samadhi is encapsulated in the ideas of a sovereign individual. In this future world where everyone is using a neutral money that the state does not control, as fiat currencies move towards worthlessness, we will enter “hyperbitcoinization”. This term was popularized in this 2014 article, and it describes a world on a Bitcoin Standard; one in which our incentives as a species is for cooperation and collaboration, instead of death and destruction that fiat currency has enabled. The time horizon for this to take place might well be three generations, as Aleks Svetski posits in this article.[i] This time of peace can also foster opportunities for individual liberation and decentralized community power. Bitcoin enables the connection of a network of all humans on earth today, all motivated to work and produce value in the world and finally empowered to save for the future. In this future world of scarcity in money, everything else will become abundant; Jeff Booth articulates this brilliantly in his book, The Price of Tomorrow.[ii] In our fiat world of abundant government fiat money today, everything else becomes scarce; and we live in a world of inflation, where individual’s savings are devalued and those closest to the money printer benefit most, popularly described by Sir Cantillon in the 17th century.
In a state of samadhi, a bitcoin standard, our capital will continue to accumulate, and we will be able to create a better world for our children and grandchildren as had been happening for millennia on a gold standard. Only recently have the full evil of fiat currencies come to pass, with the deaths of hundreds of millions of humans throughout 20th century warfare that continues to this day. The only way these wars could be funded was through the untethering of a sound money, gold, towards a government declared fiat currency, backed by its monopoly on violence. When we are in a state of samadhi, it is said that we experience oneness with all other living beings. We all have the power to tap into our body’s own wonder to reach this state. Those who have experienced samadhi are changed forever, just as those who truly open their minds to learning about bitcoin can envision and feel the better world we are moving towards. I believe that with an open mind and open heart, everyone can come to the realization that they are the light and have immense power to manifest their reality and feel connected to source. One can learn these practices through bitcoin and yoga, and connect to something bigger than oneself, basking in bliss.
[i]Svetski, Aleks. Bitcoin Reaches Mass Adoption in 60 Years. Bitcoin Magazine. February 25, 2023. https://bitcoinmagazine.com/culture/bitcoin-reaches-mass-adoption-in-60-years
[ii]Booth, Jeff, Price of Tomorrow. Stanley Press. Jan 14, 2020.