Koshas Layers or Sheaths

These 5 koshas surround our Being, Consciousness. When we are in alignment and experiencing union of all 5 koshas, we are able to rest in the vast stillness of Being. Ever pure. Ever wise. Ever free.

  • Become familiar with the koshas through direct experience
  • Five koshas guided practice
  • In meditation we work from the least subtle to more subtle
  • These practices may work predominantly on one kosha and also permeate and interpenetrate other layers. There are no hard dividing lines between the layers
  • Every practice of relaxation or meditation begins with becoming aware of the body, the space the body is occupying and relaxing the physical body

Annamaya kosha

Annamaya kosha is the physical body, the body made of food

Practice these basic shavasana practices

Humans experience life through our bodies. It is common for people to identify ourselves AS our bodies. These inquiry practices can work directly to release this identification.

Pranamaya kosha

Prana is energy or life force. We work with energy two ways: through the breath and directly with sensation

Healthy breathing is the foundation:

  • diaphragmatic
  • through the nose
  • continuous and smooth (no pauses between inhale/exhale and no jerkiness),
  • even length of exhale and inhale
  • silent and relaxed, deep and slow

People develop habitual constriction, contraction, jerkiness and pauses in their breath due to stress and trauma. Although most people are able to attend to their breath directly, relax their body and allow their breath to become smoother, some people with highly traumatized nervous systems find it terrifying to breathe deeply. They may be in a state of freeze. Patience and kindness are the key. See resources on healing trauma.

Become familiar with basic breathing practices.

Box Breathing for a Quick Reset
Two Minute Relaxation With Breath
Seven Minutes Smooth Continuous Breathing
Six Second Exhalation for Relaxation Response
Extended Exhalation 2:1 for Deep Relaxation

Sushumna
To go deeply into meditation, you must be able to balance your energy and open the sushumna channel. Practice alternate nostril breathing. It balances solar and lunar energy, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and leads inward to a calm, joyful mind.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (short practice)
Alternate Nostril Breathing (full practice)

Relaxing the energy body

Manomaya kosha

We work with this lower level of the mind primarily through the thought stream. Learn about the four parts of the mind.

The whole of the mind is known as Chitta. The Chitta is divided into four parts:
ahamkara – ego or sense of I-ness, our sense of identity (not negative as often used in the West)
manas – questioning/sensing faculty of the mind, regular daily life thoughts, our brain’s interpretation of sensory input
buddhi – intuitive faculty of the mind, knowing, wisdom
chitta – storehouse (of all thoughts and memories)

Manas, the thought stream

Fearful and Anxious Thoughts

Resistance

Vijnanomaya kosha

Higher, intuitive faculty of the mind. Buddhi. The Witness or Observer.

Meditation practices

Anandamaya kosha

Heart

Layer of limited joy and bliss