Peeling off your Layers – Koshas
Let’s remember Yoga is a system of techniques and information we use for physical and spiritual liberation and is designed to be accessible. Some aspects of it then will be generalizations, in fact, all forms all generalizations, but helpful for pointing us in the correct direction. It is the duty then, and blessing of each individual practitioner to translate the language of Yoga systems into their own practice. Experiences of “what happens” when we practice should be completely unique.
Traditional Yoga Vedanta describes five main “layers” of the human being which make up our experience. Each successive layer supersedes the previous in terms of intricacy and subtlety and also works on a larger scale, encompassing all of the qualities of the layer before it. These layers in Yoga are called the Koshas.
Let’s look at the outer most Kosha, the body, Annamaya Kosha. All the Koshas use the word maya in the name, meaning illusion. That is this kosha is the appearance of a seemingly food made body. This kosha is composed of all physically observable structure. It is worked on primarily by physical activities, eating, Asana, and resting posture. The refinement of these physical activities leads to an awareness of the underlying movement of energy through the body. This is electrical, kinesthetic, vibratory energy in the…
Pranamaya Kosha or energy apparent body. Developing greater sensitivity to the movement of energy by internal stimulation or lack of it refines this kosha. Pranamaya Kosha happens in the nervous system, the breath, and the magnetic field generated by heavy metals flowing through the blood. Breathing techniques and energetic practices such as visualization and concentration work on this kosha. When this refinement results in a high degree of organization, a paradigm shift comes in our understanding of the mind in the…
Manomaya Kosha is the the first Kosha that divulges a sense of ego. It creates individualized concepts and feelings through the emotions and the five sensory organs. By developing steadiness in the movements of the mind the next level of experience is accessed in the form of…
Vajnanamaya Kosha is the development of an awareness that has realized the different aspects of mind and can see them and the superficial koshas as the tools of divine consciousness, used for gaining knowledge. This level of identification is like a still point in the mind which observes all other internal identifications and modifies them for seeing their underlying truth.
Anandamaya Kosha is the bliss apparent body. It is like a reflection of divine awareness in the form of the individual. It becomes identified with when the Vajnanamaya kosha has aligned all the components of the four other koshas into a configuration that sees through ego and turns all experience into the bliss of being a part of the continuing birth of the universe in the ever present moment. This is the last layer, a localized phenomenon of the grandeur of the Universe.
Stepping into the true Self, assimilates all superficial experiences into a new context, and a new process for experiencing, awakened beyond the focal point of the body. Each of us has a different internal program to unlock our individual evolution and all the keys we need are right along the way inside of ourselves.
About our Author
George Anthony is a yoga teacher and modern mystic that travels the world training teachers, likes diving into self expanding experiences, and loves to share good energy with all people. He’s the director of Sajeeva Yoga School, musician, artist, novice acrobat, acroyogi, cook, handstand master, and philosopher. Join the vibes! – www.sajeevayoga.com