The self is the subject of experience, never the object…In the self there is no incompleteness-no lack to create disharmony or pain. The self is full…” -Sandra Anderson and Rolf Sovik
Have you ever felt like there was more to you than what others see, that there is a deeper level to yourself that you just haven’t tapped into, or maybe haven’t known how to reach? I’ve discussed how yoga is a great way to connect to your true self, but by learning about koshas you can take your journey even further and discover the core of your being.
Sandra Anderson and Rolf Sovik Psy.D. explain koshas in Yoga Mastering the Basics as the five dimensions of personality that surround the self. “They function, in effect, like shades around a light-shrouding the intensity and vitality of our self-awareness. As yoga practice proceeds, the sages say, each of these layers will eventually become an integrated part of experience. Each will become more transparent, and as that happens we will experience ourselves with more clarity and energy.”
The following description of the 5 Koshas was taken from Yoga Mastering the Basics.
Annamaya Kosha: the sheath consisting of food (anna)
The most visible layer of our personality, and it is the one with which most of us identify. It is made up of the food we eat. There are four instinctive drives-the urges for food, sex (sensual pleasure), sleep, and self preservation…There are those who say that modern civilization virtually encourages an addictive relationship with the body. And addictive habits of living lead to physical imbalance and poor health.
Pranamaya Kosha: the sheath consisting of vital energy (prana)
Accessed through the breath, and it is through training the breath that our emotional reactions, changes in consciousness (wakefulness and sleep), fluctuations in energy levels, pain, and stress can be moderated.
Manomaya Kosha: the sheath consisting of the lower mind (manas)
Provides the self with the capacity for receiving sense impressions, making mental associations, bringing memories into awareness, and coordinating actions. Perceptions and actions here are derived from instincts, impulses, and previous experiences.
Vijnanamaya Kosha: the sheath consisting of discernment (vijnana)
This is the kosha of wisdom and discrimination. It’s the dimension of the self in which the meaning of experience is weighed and recognized. As our awareness deepens through concentration, we acquire a more clear and accurate vision of ourselves and our relationship to the world, and we act in accordance with it. Here intuition and discrimination are highly developed, and inner joys replace the distracting excitements of sensual pleasures and emotions.
Anandamaya Kosha: the sheath consisiting of inner bliss (ananda)
This is the innermost layer of personality-not the pure self, but luminous in it’s light. It is attained through pure and one-pointed concentration, nurtured over a long period of practice.
I invite you to simply bring awareness to your daily life, including how you carry yourself, how you breathe, how much rest you get and what you eat, then begin to look at the koshas. Start digging deeper into the layer you feel drawn to, or start with the first layer. Read more about the kosha’s in Yoga Mastering the Basics or here.
Enjoy your journey!