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Panchakosha

Derived from the Sanskrit terms pancha, meaning “five” and kosha meaning “sheath” panchakosha refers to the concept in yoga philosophy that there are five layers of awareness through which all experience is filtered. Since these layers encompass all aspects of existence, from gross to transcendental, pancha kosha also provides a model through which physical, psychological and energetic imbalances can be addressed.

Annamaya Kosha

The food sheath – This is the first layer of our existence. ‘Anna’ means matter; ‘annam’ literally means food. It refers to the physical body which needs food and nourishment to thrive. The gross body is born out of matter, sustained by matter, and then goes back to merge with matter.

Pranamaya Kosha

The sheath of vital life force energy – The word prana means – life force. It is the prana that is responsible for sustaining the physical body. This Prana flows through different Nadis (energy channels), which is a part of the subtler aspects.

Manomaya Kosha

The mental or psychological sheath- It is the layer of existence that can simply be called the mind / manah. Manah is the thought layer of our existence. All thoughts rise and subside in here. These thoughts have a great power to affect our physiology, physical body, moods, and most importantly, our prana (life force energy)

Vigñanmaya Kosha

The intellect sheath – This kosha is subtler than the mind. Vignan means ‘knowing’. It is the layer of wisdom that knows, judges, classifies, discriminates and decides. It is the seat of intuition, connected to inner wisdom and deeper states of consciousness. It is something that is beyond thought, beyond reason. Starting from the Annamaya Kosha, the five koshas become subtler and less tangible as we move inwards.

Anandamaya Kosha

The bliss sheath – It is the most subtle aspect of our existence, devoid of any form of emotions; a state of total silence – a state of complete harmony.

It is that level of our existence where we experience the contentment. Anand means bliss. It transcends the logical, thinking mind, providing an experience of unity with universal consciousness.

Anand is however not an experience of some happy emotions at the level of the mind but it is love, peace and joy, independent of any mental stimulus. It is just bliss.