The Koshas: A Soul Experience

“When your heart opens completely, you will stumble upon the most powerful force in the Universe – your loving, eternal presence.” – Matt Kahn

Through using the Higher Self Meditation and the practices of Reiki, I have found access to an internal and divine wisdom. I recall when I was trying to decide whether or not to sign up for Swan River Yoga Teacher Training. Though I knew I would take this training someday, I wasn’t sure if the time was right. It was getting time to make a decision.

I sat in stillness, and imagined my life as if I had signed up and begun to partake in the training. I felt this as joy, all the way through each of my internal layers, all the way to my physical body. My body felt light, relaxed, at peace. I then “checked my math” and sat with the idea of not doing the training, waiting until the next time around, and sensed this as a reality fully throughout my being. At that moment my mind became noticeably more dull and let down. My body felt heavy and tired. It was quite obvious at that point what to do.

I am forever grateful I did that training. It was one of the most beautiful and expansive times of my life and had a huge impact on my personal growth and Soul Experience. I believe my Soul’s desire to experience that training was so strong and aligned with my dharma that it guided me to do it.

As fall approaches, nature prepares to shed its summertime coverings, transitioning into an internal slowdown in preparation for the coming winter months. This makes it an ideal time for us to turn inward as well, focusing on our own internal layers and uncovering our true essence. The layers or energetic bodies that make up our complete Being are known as the five Koshas.

According to the Upanishads, our Being is comprised of five energy sheaths, or Koshas, which cover our Jivatman, our individual Soul. This Jivatman is most deeply inside of us, where our individual Soul connects to the Divine. From here our Soul, embodied inside of our human form or container, gets to experience what human life is all about. In return, our Jivatman wishes to radiate out into the layers of our Being, offering the wisdom, bliss and endless peace and love of the Divine it is connected to. This relationship is a give and take, as the Soul receives the human experience, and is there for us to tap into so that we can steep our life experiences with Divinity.

The Koshas are energy layers that vibrate at different speeds or energetic frequencies and interact with each other. They can inform us, if we are tuned in, of any area of our Being that is in need of balance and harmony. Briefly, from most to least subtle, the five Koshas are:

1. Anandamaya Kosha: The Soul’s residence. Where Jivatman is held energetically in our body and where we connect to the Divine.

2. Vijnanmaya Kosha: Our 3rd eye, Inner Wisdom and Consciousness. When we are tuned in, we allow the heart and Divine to inform and guide us. We can experience our Higher Self.

3. Manomaya Kosha: Our thinking, logical, critical mind. This layer can most easily be “thrown off.” As it exists in the exact middle layer between the most subtle and the more gross Koshas, it receives information from the lighter subtle energy bodies and denser physical bodies, which can sometimes seem to be conflicting.

4. Pranamaya Kosha: Slightly less gross than the actual physical body, this layer or sheath is where prana or life force energy resides. This layer brings the vitality to the physical body from the more internal and subtle layers.

5. Annamaya Kosha: The most gross or dense layer, the tangible physical body. The Jivatman or Individual Soul’s container in this life experience.

As The Taittiriya Upanishad states, “Be one to whom an Acharya (spiritual guide, scholars you learn from) is as god, be one to whom a guest is as god.”

Our Koshas are in place as a system by which we can access our Highest Self, Jivatman, connected to God. We can offer this Soul the human experience. Committed to our personal development and expansion of Consciousness, we in turn receive Divine Guidance.

Things can feel strange and unsteady at this time on our planet. All of the sheaths are unsteady without the Self-referential wisdom of the Soul. By utilizing the system of the Koshas, we access this eternal wisdom and find stability.

In our yoga practice we can also activate this uncovering of the Highest Self and innermost connection to Divinity. Remember to pull into the midline. We move the shoulders down the back and energetically pull them in toward the heart. We engage the core and lower body muscles to pull inward towards each other. With this active intention we connect with the internally held Jivatman. This allows the Divine to radiate and infiltrate out from the Anandamaya and Vijanamaya Koshas into the rest of our Being.

By using our Ujjayi breath, Pranayama Kosha is stimulated. When we tune into the sound of the breath, it also settles our mind, Manomaya Kosha, and as we send the breath throughout out the body, we energize the Annamaya Kosha, bringing it into harmony with our more subtle layers.

Honor the true purpose of our asana practice, which is Self-discovery and awareness of Divinity within. We recognize this Divinity within everyone here together at this time on our planet. In doing so, “otherness” disappears, and the truth of oneness is revealed. We have a greater ability to connect with our true and highest Self. We establish a solid foundation for ourselves, making it easier to see one another on a Soul-to-Soul level. Informed by our inner wisdom, we remember that every individual we encounter is simply, and yet so wondrously, a Divine Soul embodied. All are Souls, just as we are, in the process of having a fully human experience.

Written by Nancy Maas
September, 2017