Did you ever consider there is more to the body than what we see? According to the famous yogic text the Upanishad, there are 5 layers of the body. These Koshas, or multidimensional layers, are defined as ‘sheaths’. I like to think of the russian nesting dolls as an example of how each sheath fits into each other, from the largest to the smallest.
The Annamaya Kosha is the largest sheath, it represents the physical body. The direct translation is “the body made of food”. This is the most observable kosha because we can see, feel and touch the physical body. When you practice yoga, you have a deeper awareness of what is happening in the body. You can see and feel a transformation in the physical body. The practice of annamaya kosha in yoga is ASANA. When you are disconnected from the body, you receive feedback in the form of discomfort or pain.
The second kosha is called the Pranamaya Kosha, and this body is made of life force energy. “Prana” means life force. Life begins and ends with the breath, therefore everything associated with the breath is part of the pranamaya kosha. The practice of breath awareness or pranayama is the connection to this vital life-force system. No breath, no life.
The third kosha is called the Manomaya Kosha. Mana means mind. This layer of the body experiences the thinking and feeling part of your mind. These emotions are expressed in words describing feelings, as we interpret life through the physical body.
The Vijnanamaya Kosha is the body made of wisdom. Vijnana is defined as wisdom or knowing, and Vi is defined as special. This is the analytical and thinking body, the part of the mind that judges, discriminates, that knows. The ego lives here. A meditation practice cultivates the skill of witnessing, being with what is instead of trying to fix it. A meditation practice strengthens the vijnanamaya kosha, giving this kosha the ability to observe without judgement, to see truths, be insightful and soften the voice of the ego.
The fifth and most interior layer of the energy body is the Anandamaya Kosha, the spiritual body. Ananda means bliss. Do not mistake this bliss as just happiness, this is the BIG bliss that the sages regarded as eternal joy, experienced at the deepest level of our being. How does one experience this bliss that lives inside ourselves?
As a yoga and/or meditation teacher, you must consider this. Of course it is not our responsibility to get our yogis there. However, it IS our responsibility to light the path.
Sarah is a busy yogini: with a traveling husband, 3 kids, 3 dogs, tennis enthusiast and yoga & meditation teacher. I have previously owned my own yoga studio and now I teach yoga and mindful meditation at Walter Reed Bethesda Medical Center, and I work privately with children/teens/adults with anxiety. Most days I laugh that “I AM A YOGA TEACHER” because my life does not look peaceful or meditative: it looks like a 3-ring circus. However, despite how crazy I feel (or act!), people ask me all the time about my personal yoga practice and how I incorporate yoga into my life. This blog is to share with you how I live my yoga, how I am always trying to be more UNITED with my spirit, and the reality that I am still always practicing yoga and… have a very long, long way to go! – See more at: http://theyogafairy.net
February 13, 2015, http://baldyogi.com/koshas-5-layers-body-sarah-schain/