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A five part introduction to the Koshas. Pt.1 Annamaya Kosha

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By Gillian Taylor

The Koshas in yoga are five separate energy bodies which encase our physical body. These layers are interconnected from our physical sheath all the way to our subtle body – our self. The sheaths are inseparable and can teach us a lot about ourselves and our tendencies. Over the next five weeks we will look at each Kosha and how they relate to our yoga practice. They are a helpful reminder that we are more than just our physical bodies and our physical capabilities.

The first Kosha is the ANNAMAYA Kosha. This is our physical body from our bones, joints, ligaments and tendons. The physical practice of yoga is what many people are drawn to initially, and so the Annamaya Kosha is often the first we experience and practice. If we are out of balance with Annamaya Kosha we may feel ungrounded and not in tune with the physical body, which may mean we do not take care of our physical body as best we should. As with all things that are interconnected, if we are out of balance in this outermost later, it can affect the other Koshas.

When we are in tune with our physical body we feel balanced. When the physical body is balanced we can focus on the inner experiences. It’s the same way we train mindfulness in many ways – by training ourselves to pay attention to the physical body, and be mindful of it, we are better able to cultivate the mind.

Asana is one of the ways we experience and affect Annamaya Kosha. Bring awareness to this Kosha by becoming aware of the breath and the movements and sensations in the body, such as temperature, the heartbeat etc and then expand this field of awareness to notice the parts of the body touching the mat, the muscles you are working or stretching and notice your experience. We are so much more than just physical beings so notice what you are doing not only in terms of the physical experience but also the inner attitude. This is how we start to go beyond the physical into the next layers of the Koshas.

Next week we look at the Pranamaya Kosha.

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