quench the thirst
Yoga offers an incredible amount of healing benefits, generated from a wholistic view of the body, mind and spirit. We are more than a physical body; we are multi-dimensional beings with capacity for intelligent interaction.
This intelligent interaction in the yoga philosophy is referenced to the 5 Koshas. A Kosha is a layer, or a sheath. The 5 Koshas is a teaching from the Upanishads, a Vedic text being one of the first emerging truths concerning Reality and the healing of human nature. The Koshas can be considered like an onion, one layer uncovering the next beginning from the skin to the very inside or core of the onion. Each layer with its own quality.
Physical (Annamaya Kosha): You are what you eat
Anna translates to food. The physical body is created and nourished by food. In yoga asana (posture), we first experience the pose through the physical body. Healthy foods, yoga practice and rest all influence optimal vitality while also provokes us to experience the deeper layers.
Energy (Pranamaya Kosha): We already live in this body; our body is a living vessel through breath.
Prana translates to energy; not the energy that we consider in Western culture on a physical level yet prana being the life-force, the breath that travels and ultimately operates the physical body and enhances our sense of connection.
Mental (Manamaya Kosha): The thinking faculties of the brain
Mana translates to mind. It is our ability to absorb and process thoughts and emotions based on our experiences to interpret and identify our sense of the world. The health of this Kosha depends on the healthy operations of the Physical and Energy koshas.
Wisdom (Vijnanamaya Kosha): The higher self, or intuitive faculty underlying the thinking mind
Vijnana translates to knowing. This knowing is not through the ‘regular’ thinking mind however underneath the thinking mind lives wisdom. This wisdom guides us through life with a reflective quality, experiencing deeper insight within ourselves and the world.
Bliss (Anandamaya Kosha): The resting in our own being
Ananda translates to bliss. This bliss is not a sensation that we would experience in the thinking mind kosha. This bliss is an expanded and unbounded flavour of Reality. This bliss is difficult to explain and grasp as its completely limitless compared to our modern compartmentalized thinking mind.
Our essential nature is Atman, translated to: Universal oneness of all that exists. Atman is found in the core of the 5 Koshas, Bliss being the first to surround it. As explained by my teacher: ‘Like a pure light shining through various lampshades (Koshas), Atman is the light itself, where subject and object (observed and observer) are seen as one.’ –Teaching Hatha Yoga Text, Dan Clement
When we see and understand ourselves in layers, or Koshas, then do we begin to see the connection one has to the next, empowering us to integrate our layers of being to enrich our lives, to quench our thirst for living meaningfully whole.
Teaching Hatha Yoga, Dan Clement