THE SANSKRIT TERM ‘KOSHA’ MEANS ‘SHEATH’.
As you move from the outer layers to the inner layers, you get deeper into the core of self
being. You eventually discover that your body is made up of subtle degrees of energy:
from the physical body, to the energetic body, to the mental body, to the wisdom body,
and finally, to the bliss body. These five bodies cannot be separated or taken apart. These
layers are highly interrelated and constantly interactive with one another. This means
whatever happens at one level has an effect on all other layers of the body. If there is any
sort of disconnect from the spirit, it indicates that the bliss body has weakened and there
is disharmony amongst all layers. On the other hand, connection with your bliss body
brings you to a state of positivity and peace.
These subtle aspects of our being cannot be neglected. If complete happiness and total
wellbeing is what we actually desire, we must care for all layers of our well-being. The
philosophical application of yoga into our everyday life really helps to ensure harmony
among all the koshas. It promotes overall well-being and brings you closer to your inner
self, achieving the feeling of absolute fulfillness.
ANNAMAYA KOSHA (the physical body)
This Kosha forms the outermost layer. It is essentially the physical body (organs, bones,
muscle tissue, and skin), and is known as the annamaya kosha. Anna means food, or
physical matter, while maya means ‘to be made of’.
PRANAMAYA KOSHA (the energy body)
The second layer, commonly known as the energetic body, is pranamaya kosha. It is
composed of the body’s subtle life-force energy prana, also known as chi in traditional
MANOMAYA KOSHA (the mental body)
The third layer directly corresponds to your psyche, emotions, and the nervous system. It
is expressed as a way of thoughts, feelings and sensations. Manomaya kosha, is derived
from the word manas, meaning your mind or thought processes.
VIJNANAMAYA KOSHA (the wisdom body)
Beneath the constant stream of thoughts, feelings, and sensations, lies the fourth inner
sheath of higher intelligence in your wisdom body, which is called vijnanamaya kosha,
derived from vijnana, or “intellect.”
Your intuition, conscience, and various other aspects of your consciousness comprise your
wisdom body. Here, you develop our awareness and deeper insight into ourselves and
the world around us. Practicing yoga helps to still the mental body so that you can listen
to your wisdom body as it begins to guide you. Simply paying attention to any internal
sensations can help you feel this kosha layer.
ANANDAMAYA KOSHA (the bliss body)
Anandamaya kosha is the fifth and deepest layer of your life, and is known to be the core
of your existence. The term has been derived from ananda, which means ‘bliss’. It is
commonly referred to as your highest self or spirit. The bliss body is where you
experience the unbounded freedom, happiness and inner contentment.
Getting connected to this kosha feels like coming home. There is a sense of peace and a
subtle connection to a greater being. It feels as if time has ceased to exist and your
consciousness expands beyond the limits of your body. While most people are not even
aware of this aspect of their being, there is a chance that you may have experienced
glimpses of your anandamaya kosha throughout your life.