Yoga Nature

Principles of Yoga - Panchakoshas

The Panchakoshas

Yoga says that each person has five distinct energy bodies or koshas, vibrating at different speeds. These interacting and overlapping layers of energy form the complete spiritual, mental and physical nature of the human personality.

Kosha is a Sanskrit word meaning sheath, moving from the gross physical body to the subtle spiritual body. Each kosha signifies a more refined dimension of consciousness. The koshas are known as annamaya, pranamaya, manomaya, vijnanamaya and anandamaya. Maya means 'composed of', so these sheaths are composed of food, energy, intellect, intuition and bliss.

The first two sheaths equate to the physical body. Annamaya kosha is the actual physical body, that part dependent on anna, meaning grain or gross food, for nourishment.

Pranamaya kosha is composed of prana, the vital life energy which organises the body parts and provides movement for mental and physical expression.

What we can loosely term 'the mind' exists in two parts. Manomaya kosha is the dimension of the lower mind, incorporating intellect, reason, concept and memory. Vijnanamaya kosha is a more subtle area of higher knowledge and intuitive awareness.

The most subtle body is anandamaya kosha. It is essentially a body of pure light in the realm of spiritual bliss, beyond the reach of language.

The Panchakoshas