We are multi-dimensional human beings and from a yogic viewpoint we are made of 5 Koshas / layers or sheaths of existence. Our outer physical layer being the most gross, and gradually becoming more subtle to our true self, called Atman or Purusha. The eternal centre of consciousness. These sheaths also correspond to our Chakras, from lowest to highest. Yoga offers us a range of techniques and practices to get in touch and connect with each layer of our existence!
– The Physical Body ~ Unconscious Mind ~ Mooladhara + Swadhistana
– The Energy or Vital Body ~ Subconscious Mind ~ Swadhistana + Manipura
– The mental Body ~ Mind “Chitta” (Home of Ahamkara / Ego) ~ Anahata
– The Wisdom Body ~ Superconsciousness / Conscious+Buddhi (intellect) ~ Vishuddi + Ajna
– The Bliss Body ~ Pure Buddhi – Window to the Infinite ~ Sahasrara
These sheaths can be explained using the metaphor of a lampshade. The light in the centre is Atman, our true self, and the 5 covering lampshades, of different colours and densities, represent the 5 koshas. The light shines through the lampshades with each shade progressively changing its colour and nature. While the shades create the individuality of each lamp, our personalities, they also obscure the pure light! We must also remember though that all the layers / koshas interact with each other and cannot be separated!
How we experience life is classified into 3 Gunas or qualities of nature – TAMAS (inertia, laziness, procrastination) RAJAS (dynamism, movement, oscillation) and SATTVA (steady, pure, harmonious). We are mostly under the influence of the tamasic or rajasic mind. Only in the state of Anandamaya Kosha, with the awakening of Kundalini, can we truly experience the state of Sattva. The practices of yoga can help us disassociate our mind from the distractions of the outer world and move within through the layers of our existence. Many of us experience life primarily through our gross mind, where we identify ourselves as “I” or individual. As we progress our yoga practice beyond asana and begin practising pratyahara, dharana, mantra and dhyana we can begin to experience the Pure Mind. With a consistent and progressive yoga practice we are able to access the inner sheath of Vijanayama Kosha – The Wisdom Body. This is where real and lasting change can occur. This is where we experience the higher functioning of Buddhi / Intellect. Where we have the ability to observe and witness, understanding the true nature of our soul. Where our ‘I’ ness is connected to our higher self and not attached to the functioning’s of the lower mind and body.