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The Koshas - Five layered body

The Five Koshas

Our body is made of several layers and bodies.  The physical body is the one you see.  The other subtle layers are experienced through breath, yoga, and the environment.

The Physical body is a tangible cover for the self.  The skin is the permanent clothing to protect our physiology, which functions automatically.  The advanced technology enables us to see the interiors of the body and understand the function of the body, but it does not help us to understand the subtle function of the body, such as Chakras, the meridian lines, and the Marma points.   The unseen and sensory body enables us to connect with the intuition, the Chakras, the 11 bodies and the Koshas.  

The Koshas are the one element of the function of your physical body.  The knowledge helps to understand the Self.


The Koshas (five layers) are:

Annamaya Kosha - the food sheath

The Annamaya Kosha belongs to the physical body. The Physical body is one you can see and touch, represents the five elements and one that perishes at the end the end of life and goes back to the elements.  

Pranamaya Kosha - the vital sheath

This sheath belongs to the astral body. The five essential energies which flow through the physical body are: As we practice Yoga, the subtle aspects of these Pranas begin to awaken. This may cause various unusual movements of energy in the body and mind, including the occurrence of various spontaneous movements or kriyas.  We then see the subtle application of these five Pranas:

  1. subtle Prana: heightened vitality and sensitivity
  2. subtle Apana: deep grounded and stability
  3. subtle Samana: great peace
  4. subtle Vyana: new expanses of energy
  5. subtle Udana: a sense of lightness or levitation

We experience cold hot, hunger, and thirst through our actions (mouth, hands, feet, anus, and genitals).

Manomaya Kosha - the mental sheath

The Manomaya Kosha is the 3 minds (subconscious, unconscious and conscious), including the 5 knowledge organs, (the eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin.  Desires, feelings imagination, and memories all form part of the Manomaya Kosha. The mind absorbs information via its sensory organs. Desires are also generated by these sensory organs.

Vijnanamaya Kosha (The Intellectual Sheath)

The Vijnanamaya Kosha uses the power of three minds, (negative, positive, and neutral) to make choices and make decisions.  It directs our thoughts to make decisions between right and wrong in our everyday life.  The Kosha combines the Mental and intellectual sheath for focus and discernment.  The Kosha includes the Ego and the aspects of self-identity, the feeling of the self, and both false identity and identity.

Anandamaya Kosha (The Bliss Sheath)

The Anandamaya Kosha is our memory bank of happiness.  It stores all our happy memories.  This layer contains wants in the personality (the Vasanas or hidden inclinations). It carries the soul’s experiences through countless rebirths.  If our happiness is sitting by the seaside it is stored in the bliss sheath.  If telling a lie makes us happy this will sit in the Bliss sheath as well.

This Pancha Kosha philosophy may help you figure out who you are. With this information, you may transcend the grosser layers of your existence, tuning in to the delicate components of your personality, improving your conduct, and eventually discovering your true self.

Once you have knowledge of the Koshas you begin to understand yourself from the gross physical body to your thoughts, feelings, and responses to life to discover the true self.

In the next blog, we will discover the 11 bodies.

Below is the meditation to try at home to balance the Koshas. 

The Kriya will help you to balance the Five Koshas to explore all the elements of Koshas for life to become a work of art.

The Mantra in the meditation is called Kirtan Kriya, if you are curious, there is a downloadable PDF:



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