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How does yoga work with the Koshas?

Yoga is a holistic practice that encompasses physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of a person's well-being. According to ancient yogic philosophy, the human body is composed of different layers or sheaths called Koshas. These Koshas represent different dimensions of our existence, ranging from the physical body to the subtlest aspects of our consciousness.

Yoga works with the Koshas to bring harmony and balance to these layers, leading to a deeper understanding of oneself and the world around us.

The concept of Koshas in yoga is derived from the ancient yogic text called the Taittiriya Upanishad. This text describes the human being as a multi-dimensional being, consisting of five Koshas or layers:

Annamaya Kosha (physical sheath)

Pranamaya Kosha (energy sheath)

Manomaya Kosha (mental sheath)

Vijnanamaya Kosha (wisdom sheath) and

Anandamaya Kosha (bliss sheath).

Each of these layers represents a different aspect of our existence and plays a significant role in our overall well-being.

The Annamaya Kosha, the outermost layer, represents the physical body. It is associated with the five senses and is nurtured through physical postures or asanas in yoga. Through asanas, we can improve flexibility, strength, and overall physical health. By bringing awareness to our physical body, we can also cultivate a deeper connection between mind and body, leading to a state of harmony and balance. This sheath can be purified by a vegetarian diet, asanas, and kriyas or cleansing practices.

The Pranamaya Kosha represents the energy body or the life force that flows through the physical body. It is associated with the breath and vital energy known as Prana. Pranayama, the practice of controlling and regulating the breath, works directly with the Pranamaya Kosha. By practicing different breathing techniques, we can balance and harmonize the flow of energy within us, leading to increased vitality and overall well-being. This sheath can be purified by pranayama, breathing practices and kriya. Plus any chakra purification practices such as nadi shodhana(alternate nostril breathing) and visualization.

The Manomaya Kosha represents the mental and emotional aspects of our being. It is associated with thoughts, emotions, and the intellect. Yoga helps to quiet the mind and calm the emotional fluctuations by practicing concentration and meditation techniques. By observing our thoughts and emotions without judgment, we can develop a greater sense of self-awareness and cultivate a more peaceful and balanced state of mind. We can purify this sheath with karma yoga (selfless service) bhakti (devotion to god), chanting, yama and niyama practices and asanas can open up long held emotions. “Issues in the tissues”

The Vijnanamaya Kosha represents the wisdom sheath, the layer of intuition and inner knowing. It is associated with our higher consciousness and the ability to perceive the interconnectedness of all things. Through meditation and self-reflection, we can access this deeper wisdom within ourselves. Yoga helps to develop this layer by quieting the mind, cultivating mindfulness, and allowing for a deeper connection to our true self. It may be purified by satsang, being in the company of others seeking liberation. You can also purify by the study of scriptures, sanskrit and meditation. Discerning our highest self. Getting into a witness or non-judgemental state. Samskaras (influences of the past) can be seen here.

The Anandamaya Kosha represents the bliss sheath, the layer of ultimate joy and contentment. It is the deepest layer of our being and is associated with a sense of interconnectedness with all living beings and the universe. Through the practice of yoga, we can experience moments of deep inner peace and connection, tapping into the infinite source of bliss within us. ​​This kosha may be purified by the experience of ecstasy or samadhi (bliss). For example, you may feel elation from working toward a practice like handstand and see your progress.

In conclusion, yoga works with the Koshas to bring harmony and balance to the different layers of our existence. All the bodies permeate each other. By integrating physical postures, breath control, meditation, and self-reflection, yoga helps to align the body, mind, and spirit. It allows us to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves and our connection to the world around us. Through this practice, we can experience a profound sense of well-being, inner peace, and connection to our true essence.


Name a kosha that you have experienced in a yoga class and how?


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I find in Vinyasa classes that I typically start out with the intention to work on my Annamaya Kosha, however as the practice progresses there is quite often a shift where the movement not only becomes more fluid and "thoughtless", but I also feel a deep sense of calm and clarity (Manomaya Kosha) and a "one-ness" with the movement, the mat, and the room (Anandamaya Kosha). Where I can start out a practice feeling agitated, stiff, and in my head, I find that when I let go into the movement and my breath that by the end I am in a state where I am much better prepared (and willing) to take on the day and whatever challenges I might…

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Alice Tao
Alice Tao
2023年10月06日

I practiced yoga nidra for the first time with Niki last Sunday, and what an experience! During the body scan, my mind was able to feel the weight and the tingling and to isolate each individual parts of my body. Towards the end of the practice, with a long slow breath, I felt my soul was lifting out of my physical body (I was thrilled but also scared in that moment); and luckily as I finally breathed out, my soul settled back down. The other time I had a similar experience was a meditation I did a long time ago.


A few years ago, when I was seeking medical advice on a health condition, one of the doctors mentioned "body…

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Yes, this is a great example. Thank you for sharing your deep experience. It is common for new meditators to become afraid when they feel a separation from their physical body. I'm glad you didn't get scared off by these experiences as it is a normal response.

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If I can count our YTT program as a class :) then I think I experienced all of them. We are such a wonderful group of mix everything 🫶🏻🍀🙏🏻💯This course is a huge but fantastic package of lessons and skill.

I personally experienced in the class : a lot Pranamaya Kosha when class start with breathing and I can unconnected with my daily routine life and can be focused on one thing. Also Pranamaya on the end helps me to transverse to my daily routine life with 0,5% better me than I was before :)

: Mentally, I feel so detoxified with new attitude and positive thoughts which move me to Manomaya kosha

: and the biggest/hardest thing for me…

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返信先

Great comments! You know, the yogi's say that bliss is your natural state and say it is easy to connect to but harder to maintain over extended periods.

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Sergio Alex Cofré
Sergio Alex Cofré
2023年10月06日

Along to the yoga class I’ve felt many extraordinary sensations such sadness, happiness, madness and blessing, hungry, thirsty etc… however I never pay attention at all until now. Due to your bring this wonderful reflection at the table, I could say that i in my yoga classes many time I have lost my focus then I started flying around those thinking felling many things, to be more exact I identified with them, it’s in these moments when some koshas began to appear on me, making me feel that I’ve mentioned at the beginning but in these moments others koshas starts working as well at the same time “ Pranamaya Kosha” is which has been helpful for me to keep my…

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Yes I think breath practices have become a popular way to regulate one's emotions. I'm glad that this understanding is so prevalent. Good job!

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Anika Talwalkar
Anika Talwalkar
2023年10月04日

Yoga is so expansive and there's so much depth to this practice! This might be the first time I've heard of koshas - so exciting!


I think that I've experienced Annamaya Kosha significantly in the past 6 months. Yoga encourages a deeper attention to the body and I'm able to connect with those parts of me. Whether it's after class in savasana and doing deep breathing to engage the pelvic floor, being able to re-align my posture at work, or even just having the awareness that my body needs rest - yoga teaches me so much about my body.


Also experienced Anandamaya Kosha - that burst of joy and bliss and happiness when I did my first chakrasana! It happened…


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Yes, I couldn't agree more! I've been studying yoga for more than 27 years (12 of them full time) and I keep learning more. I love both your experiences and I think a lot of students enjoy the bliss of finally "getting" a challenging pose. I love the synchronicity~ it's typcailly interpreted as a sign of being on the right path:) WTG!

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