My passion for yoga is a never-ending tale of knowledge through research, spiritual practice and my receptivity towards understanding the true essence of yoga. It still saddens me today when I come across practitioners with limited understanding of yoga. I can’t stop emphasizing that yoga is more than an asana (flexibility, strength, balance), memorizing Sanskrit, and perfecting a handstand for social media. Sure these play a role but remember “asanas” only represent one part of the eight limbs of yoga.
The true purpose of yoga is to develop a true relationship with self, “Jivatman”, the unity of Atman, Brahman or what some may know of as the “supreme soul”.
I got acquainted with this knowledge while in India (the home of yoga) and I was immediately blown away. Sure I learnt about the different layers of the body in Pranic Healing but this new-found knowledge just brought everything to light. During my yoga teacher training program, I was introduced to the Vedas, by “introduced” I mean 1% of this philosophical realm because only a true yog possesses centuries of this enlightenment, let no one tell you otherwise.
Now let’s rear off and discover more about these Koshas (sheaths) with reference to the Upanishads that enlighten us on the five layers. I will make this short and simplified from the periphery of the body brunching into your true essence.
1. The Physical Body
The annamaya kosha in yoga. Anna means “physical matter” or “food” and maya means “made of”. This is the outermost layer of the physical body. What makes up the physical body? Skin, tissue, bones, muscle and organs. We are all very much aware of our physical body at present, might be all you’ve known, but you’re about to get schooled the Heal with Sheila way.
2. The Energy Body
The pranamaya kosha in yoga. Prana means “life-force energy” and known as chi in Chinese medicine and prana in yoga. This is sheathed by the physical layer and governs the biological processes in your body from breathing to digestion and more. This is the body that carries your chakras and yoga devotes an entire class towards pranayama because there is healing in the breath. Any blockages in the energy body automatically affect the physical body and this is where I step in as an Energy Therapist to manage your energy body.
3. The Mental Body
The manomaya kosha in yoga. Mano means “mind” or “thought processes”. This is the third layer that links to your mind, thoughts, emotions, feelings and nervous system. It is also the hub of our five senses. Remember the “monkey mind”? This is the dimension you find your mind at war with stillness. Stress and fatigue in this body affect the nervous system tremendously, and here is where yoga comes in as a calming and soothing antidote.
4. The Wisdom Body
The vijnanamaya kosha in yoga. Vijnana means “intellect”, “knowledge or wisdom”. This layer reaches intuitive knowing and higher levels of consciousness, also the sheath where awareness is as the “higher” mind. Basically, your intuition, conscience and reflective aspects of your consciousness are a part of this body. Yoga, in this case, helps to quieten the mental body so that the wisdom body can guide us.
5. The Bliss Body
The anandamaya kosha in yoga. Ananda means “spiritual bliss” or “causal body”. This is the most subtle body, its something that exists within us all. It is most often referred to as higher self or spirit. This kosha connects to the unconscious or superconscious mind, I can only imagine what happens when the higher self fuses with the superconscious mind! It is said that once you realize the Self or God, you have finally reached “Mukti” liberation. Few saints, gurus and realized souls have managed to reach this stage.
Few yoga practitioners acknowledge that the anandamaya kosha is the centre of our practice as we continue to juggle through each lifetime. Every encounter in life leads us closer to sainthood, and I want to guide as many people as possible into this awareness.
Where I am right now is not my home, I am but a passenger. – Sheila Bennati
I firmly believe that the practice and philosophical application of yoga should be a way of life. How else can one bring all these koshas into harmony and overall wellbeing? The objective is to bring you closer to self-realization and wholeness. Until then, rediscover and reconnect with your bodies.
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