Throughout August we looked at the second of the Five Koshas, the energy sheath or the vital body also known as the Pranamaya kosha.
We used our yoga practice to tap into our subtle energy and explored linking breath to movements as the breath is the link to the mind and body. In class we worked through the Earth Sequence and short sequences to open up the shoulders, arms, chest and back.
Lots of back bends were explored over the month as they open us up to more prana and very often you get an energy boost if you are feeling tired or low.
You may also have practiced the box breath or square breathing in the earlier classes of the month which help to relax the body, focus the mind and are great for allowing the prana to flow.
You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general… The study of mind and consciousness, therefore, lies at the heart of yoga.
For September we’ll be looking at the third layer, the emotional layer and mental sheath which is also called the Manomaya Kosha. This is linked with thoughts, emotions, memories, knowledge and information that we receive from the five senses.
In order to connect with this kosha we can look at two of the eight limbs of yoga, Pratyahara is the withdrawal of senses and the focus inwards and Dharana which is the focused concentration of the mind.
In our physical postures we can work towards staying mindful and being aware of the habits of the mind and how to stay focused. Balances are excellent for cultivating focus and concentration. Breathing exercises will be explored such as Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) to calm the mind and Ujjayi breathing in poses to keep that focus.
We will explore mantra meditation which is the repetition of a sound which helps to focus the mind and allows us to go deeper into the layers of consciousness. Mantras are said to have a cleansing and balancing effect on the mind. We’ll also get to try a lovely lake meditation exercise that I will share with you.
The Five Koshas
The Koshas are five conceptual layers that as yogis we use to understand ourselves and they are mentioned in the Taittirita Upanishad. Through understanding and exploration, we can start to understand the concept that we are more than our bodies, and our minds.
The Koshas are also known as sheaths, and they correspond to the different layers that cover the True Self, which is our pure consciousness. These sheaths are divided into three bodies – the physical body, the astral body and the casual body.
The five Koshas are:
- Annamaya Kosha – The physical and food sheath
- Pranamaya Kosha - The energy and vital sheath
- Manomaya Kosha – The emotional layer and mental sheath
- Vijananamaya Kosha – The wisdom and intellect sheath
- Anandamaya Kosha – The joy and bliss sheath
Each month, just like we did with the Vayus, we will look at each of the Koshas in turn to give you more of an understanding of these concepts. The poses, breathing practices and meditation and relaxation will all be connected to this theme.