The Five Koshas

by Melissa West on September 4, 2012

How is it that yoga affects mind, body and spirit when it seems you are just moving your physical body?

The answer to this question lies in the koshas. The koshas refer to the “sheaths” or layers of your bodies from the densest most physical layer of your annamaya kosha to the outermost spiritual layer of your anandamaya “bliss” body. They are aspects of your human experience from your physical, energetic, emotional, mental to spiritual. They often get compared to Russian dolls, but in truth they are much more overlapping and interconnected than Russian dolls. In yoga although you are only moving your physical body and breathing you are affecting all layers of you koshas including your mental, emotional and spiritual bodies. The five koshas include Annamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vijnamaya Kosha and Anandamaya Kosha.

So when you are practicing the physical postures of yoga you are not only affecting your physical body, but also all the other layers of your physical existence from your pranamaya kosha (your energetic body), your manomaya kosha (your emotional body), your vijnamaya kosha (your mental body), and your anandamaya kosha (your bliss body).

The Annamaya Kosha is known as the “Body full of Food” and is the densest layer of the koshas. It is the physical layer of your body. This layer has to do with strength and flexibility training.

The Pranamaya Kosha is known as the body of life energy and sits 2-3 inches out from your body. It is said if you have a strong pranic body you will have good health but if you have a weak pranic body you will have dis-ease. This kosha is the home of your chakras and corresponds to your root and sacral chakras.

The manomaya kosha refers to the body of emotions, feelings and instincts. This layer of your body is said to change as it adapts to your experiences in your environment and your own emotional state. Apparently many colours and impressions move through this body.

The Vijnamaya Kosha refers to the mental body and higher level thinking. This is where the “I” rests above individual awareness.

The Anandamaya Kosha is the body of bliss, the spirit body. It relates to the crown chakra and yet it defies any constructs which attempts to explain it.

All of these bodies overlap and interrelate with each other. You cannot affect one without affecting another. That is why when you practice a physical yoga posture you are affecting your energetic self, your emotions, your mind, and your spirit.

This month (September 2012) on the membership site I have added a series of classes on the five koshas so you can come to understand these layers of your experiential body on a deeper level. This will allow you to go deeper into your yoga practice and have a greater understanding of the effects of your practice on your mind, body, spirit and emotions. There are a series of five 20-30 minute classes one for each week-day (Monday thru Friday) available as of September 1, 2012 on the membership site. To find out more about the membership site click here.


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