The body is layered, stacked like a Russian doll. In yogic philosophy, it is explained how the body is actually made up of various sheaths and what each sheath of the body is responsible for. By coming to know the five main koshas, or body fields or sheaths, it is easier to understand what part of us responds to, holds or processes each of our experiences.
What is the Anamaya Kosha?
We are most familiar with our Anamaya Kosha, for this is the physical part of us, the one we can touch and feel and move at will. To some, the physical sheath is all that is “real” because it is the tangible part of us. The Anamaya Kosha contains all of our physicality: the organs, tissues, glands, nerves, lymph, bones, etc. It is the physical manifestation of us. This layer is also the most dense; it is what all the other layers use for expression on this physical plane.
How do you strengthen the Anamaya Kosha?
Strengthening the Anamaya Kosha comes through physical activity, exercise, body work, good foods and supplements as well as through positive affirmations, a healthy environment and visualization. Just because this field is physical does not mean it is not affected by the other fields, for as we will see, and as we intuitively know: all parts are interconnected.
What is the Pranamaya Kosha?
The next field is the pranic field, or energy field. This is the part of us that many see as the aura and is also where the emotional body resides. It is associated with the life-force and is influenced by our breath and spiritual practices which fortify prana. We can damage or compromise this layer of body by overuse of drugs, through trauma, or by allowing things, people or experiences into our personal space that we don't really wish – on a soul level – to be there. So under this description can also be sexual experiences which we allow, but are not for our highest good. Other things which can deplete this body include excessive smoking, shallow breathing, and emotional misalignments -- which can include not living your life's passion.
How do you strengthen the Pranamaya Kosha?
In order to fortify the Pranamaya Kosha the practice of pranayama is most beneficial as is all forms of vibrational and energy healing which are in alignment with your being. Crystals, essential oils, energetic bodywork, and yoga, as well as fresh food and water and meditation are all good for enhancing the pranic body.
What is the Manamaya Kosha?
Beyond the Anamaya Kosha and the Pranamaya Kosha is the Manamaya Kosha – or the mental field. This is the space of intellect and what one might term “lower mind.” It is in this body that we process and digest information and use our brain and logic to communicate and regurgitate memories and learning. The mental field is where all of the “mental chatter” resides when seeking to quiet the mind. The subconscious plays out in incessant chatter here and fears of the future and happenings of the past repeat on constant replay in the Manamaya Kosha.
The mental body can create stress if not put to rest. It is also the part of us that eventually needs to be brought under conscious control, as the ego and identity are tied to the mental body. It can be considered the ruler of the “lower kingdom” of the body, where the next field, the wisdom body, is the ruler of the “higher kingdom” where inspiration and spiritual knowing reside. We can't really live without the mental body -- it is a necessary component -- but we can become too dependent upon it and rely on it when we ought to be using the wisdom body instead.
How do you strengthen the Manamaya Kosha?
Practices which help to cultivate a healthy Manamaya Kosha include meditation, visualization, Yoga Nidra, deep breathing, affirmations and alpha brain wave music.
What is the Vinyanamaya Kosha?
Reaching out into the astral and back into spaces of the limitlessness from which we emanate is the wisdom body, the Vinyanamaya Kosha. This is the field I see as the connecting point between the physical and the Infinite. In this field we receive inspiration, insight, epiphanies and feelings of connectedness that remind us that we are not confined to these forms. This body is not quite the transcendent field – as the next body – but it rubs up against our bliss body in that it is the part of us which can translate that bliss into words and action.
When we are truly in the flow and manifesting the life we dream of and keep surrendering to a higher knowing with little effort – then we know we are accessing our wisdom body. When we write an inspired piece, when we tune into the zone of no-time with someone or in our own sphere – this too is the wisdom body at work.
How do you strengthen the Vinyanamaya Kosha?
In order to strengthen this body, use your intuition when it comes. Allow your consciousness to know that you trust that part of you and that you are open to receiving more. Meditate. Spend time in nature. Use consciousness supporting supplements like ORMUS gold and practice yoga and yoga nidra.
What is the Anandamaya Kosha?
Finally, in the greatest expanses of our being, where we are most connected with all that is, we touch our natural state in the Anandamaya Kosha – our bliss body. This is the space we access in ecstatic moments, during childbirth, sex and deep meditation. This is where we know all and nothing, in the bliss of timelessness and spacelessness where we experience a collapsing of earthly concepts and remember the truth of who we are beyond form.
The Anandamaya Kosha connects all of life, all of space and is the permeating substance of all things. It could be seen as the Nirvana to which we aspire wherein we know all and realize our smallness and where we are introduced into a deeper state of being than we usually ever experience in normal waking consciousness.
How do you strengthen the Anandamaya Kosha?
To nourish this field, sit under a tree, surrender to the earth, to your presence, to the presence which is in and around you all of the time. Move in fluidity of being, show grace, compassion and mercy to all of life. Be Love. These are the components of our humanness which grant us access into the gates of Bliss regularly.
When we are truly whole and complete we are able to reach and utilize each field at the appropriate times and from a state of integration and oneness. Out of alignment, we find often that the physical is trying to communicate to us through aches, pains and dis-ease. By intending to bring all bodies into alignment we are choosing to live from a place of authenticity, for truly all bodies have the duty and appropriate expression in us.
By understanding the parts, I believe we can better know ourselves as whole.