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Connecting to your Koshas

Are you familiar with the 5 koshas? This Vedantic philosophy is a pillar of yoga that not many practitioners are familiar with, as the concept is usually only covered in deeper immersions of subtle body training, like our 300hr YTT program. 

Essentially the koshas are layers of oneself- the word kosha means “sheath.” As you explore and peel away at each layer, much like an onion, you come closer to the core of who you are, stripping down to the Atman, or true Self. Acknowledging the importance of these layers and our connection to them holds a relevance to our daily lives that we might not even realize. Which koshas do you feel like you have the best understanding of in your own life?

Annamaya Kosha (Physical Layer)- The outermost body including skin, organs, and bones, affected by basic nourishments like food, hydration, rest and environmental exposures. Exercise, self-care routines, healthy sleep hygiene and mindful nutrient intake are paramount to balancing this layer of the body. 

Pranamaya Kosha (Breath Layer)- Prana means “life force” or “breath” and this sheath deals directly with how mindful you are of your breathing not only throughout the day, but in heightened situations of stress and adversity. Regular breath work practice, like focusing on slower, deeper breaths, lowers overall cortisol levels in the body and serves as a nervous system regulator. 

Manomaya Kosha (Mind Layer)- This layer involves the mind and emotions, including the citta vrtti (mind chatter) that can cause distraction, depression, and anxiety, if not properly attended to with daily meditation practice. Ideally, a 15-20 minute (at least) meditation practice, twice daily, fills the needs of this kosha to stay balanced and healthy. 

 Vijnanamaya Kosha (Wisdom Layer)- Seemingly very similar to the Manomaya Kosha, the Vijnanamaya is actually quite different. Think of it this way- you know how your mind can lie to you sometimes? Well, your innate Wisdom, by it’s very nature, cannot lie to you. Just as you are not your body, you are also not your mind, but your inner Wisdom is a deep enough layer, so close to the Atman, that it arguably could be considered part of you that will go on after the rest of you is gone. This makes it much harder to access at will, unlike the previous koshas. This is where deeper meditations come in. This is also where dharma comes in- living in accordance with your innermost values, which are borne of your innermost wisdom. Neat, huh? Connection with this kosha involves deep contemplation along with action and exploration of human connection and service to your fellow humans. The wisdom layer is where our desire to serve the greater good comes from. 

Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Layer)- This innermost layer is all about the experience of bliss, joy, and spiritual connection. Have you ever met those people that look at you and just SEE you? That person is connected to their Anandamaya Kosha. They are fully aware that there is truly nothing that separates them and you and everything in the universe. This full understanding that there is no separation between anything in existence is one of the hardest concepts to grasp and there’s not really a concrete way to practice getting to this layer. It’s a culmination of connecting to all the other layers before it. It’s one of those- “you get there when you get there, if you get there” conundrums. But it’s definitely possible, and a worthy goal. 

Which layers do you feel you’re currently connected to and which ones need work? 

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