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A Quick Intro to the Five Koshas

Jennifer Bradshaw

Another installment in my series (You can read from the beginning here) on understanding the energetic body, today we're tackling the topic of Koshas (or Kosas, depending on translation). In Sanskrit, kosha means "sheath" and this feature of the energetic body is just that. When I work with an energy reading client, I often scan these just after doing a scan of their chakras, as blockages and gaps in one affect the entire system.
Think of the layers of an onion (or a parfait.. to quote Donkey from Shrek, "Everyone loves parfaits"). Starting just beneath your physical skin, the koshas build upon each other, and radiate out to create what most might think of as an "aura". Each layer usually fits seamlessly into the layer above or outside it, though on occasion, one or more layers might disconnect and not fit entirely within its usual range. Each layer has specific functions and correspondences, much like the chakras, and can be balanced and healthy, or imbalanced and unhealthy, depending on how you pursue your life practices.
Quick Intro to the Koshas graphic
  1. Annamaya Kosha (Physical Body) - This first layer is your physical body, its name literally translating to "food sheath". What you eat, you become: your bones, skin, muscle, tendons, ligaments. This particular layer is tactile, providing us with our five physical senses. You can touch it, see it, interact with it. Its health depends on the foods you eat and exercises you engage in. So much of our focus in modern life is on the appearance of this part of ourselves, that often, the remaining koshas go unnoticed, unexplored and un-cared for.
  2. Pranamaya Kosha (Life Force Body) - The "Vital Life Force Body", or Pranamaya Kosha is the energy of your own life force. This is the circulation system for your subtle body, as well as the breath and fluid parts of your body that circulate necessary nutrients to bones, muscles and tissues. This is the pulse of our being, both physical and spiritual.
  3. Manomaya Kosha (Emotional Body) - Manomaya Kosha translates to "mind body"; your emotions. Have you ever noticed that when you feel bad, your heart clenches or you feel a knot in your stomach? Or why, when you are uncertain, you feel that tension in your gut? That is the interaction between your annamaya kosha and your manomaya kosha. I know that not all emotions are fun and feel good, but we need to acknowledge and allow ourselves to experience the full range of emotions for good health of this part of our subtle body. That's not the same as dwelling in negative emotions. It is entirely possible to experience, to allow ourselves to feel the good and the bad, without dwelling on them.
  4. Vijanamaya Kosha (Mental Body) - Much of this kosha is centered around the head and crown, and is known as the "wisdom sheath". Here, your energetic body reflects the wisdom and knowledge of your life. A healthy vijanamaya kosha will interact with the other koshas to give you nudges and memory recall from your life experiences. This is also your consciousness and awareness sheath - that which makes you aware of imbalances and unhealthy behaviors, so that you can take corrective action.
  5. Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Body) - Who wants more joy and bliss in their lives? This is the subtle body that feeds into the emotional body to give you that wonderful, floaty feeling that most of us experience when we are deep in meditation. Here, you experience a deep connection with the Universe, Universal consciousness, love and compassion.

Each day, as you go about your life, you are shifting in consciousness from one subtle energetic body to another. Check in with yourself throughout your day, ask yourself what you feel and where you feel it. Hot? Cold? Upset? Happy? In tune with the pulse of the Universe? Yoga asanas and yogic breathing can help you develop awareness of these unseen fields around us and aid us in building a healthier energetic system.

It is my intention that this article help you gain a basic understanding of the energetic body and how it fits with what you are already aware of, as well as how it fits in with the chakras that we discussed last week. 

If learning about the energetic body has piqued your curiosity, or it has made you aware of imbalances in your own body, perhaps we can work together to find a healthy way forward toward a clear and healthy energy field. You can order your very first energy reading with me by clicking here.

Until next time, dear reader...

{hugs}

 


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