The Pancha Koshas – The 5 levels of our Being
Yoga explains the nature of human beings in terms of energy at different levels if subtlety. These 5 levels are called the Pancha Koshas.
These 5 levels / bodies are all part of the same continuous energy field. Light sources emit light at different frequencies and we see these different frequencies as different colours. In the same way, the koshas are all part of the same energy field, but at different vibrational levels. They are the same, they are a whole, but they are also distinct.
The concept of the Koshas may sound abstract and esoteric, but it is important to remember that this concept describes aspects of our being and that we CAN experience them. In our Yoga practice, and in meditation in particular, we quieten the mind and thereby eliminate things that distract us from knowing ourselves better.
It can be a simple thing to understand and experience the Koshas, we just need to be quiet and pay attention!
Anna-maya Kosha : The physical body
‘Anna’ means food, so this is literally the ‘food body’. This is energy in its most obvious, solid state. The Anna-maya kosha can be maintained by a healthy lifestyle and hatha yoga practice.
Prana-maya Kosha : The energy body
The pranic body is more subtle than the physical body which it pervades and supports. It is prana which sustains life. Breathing has a direct influence on the Prana-maya kosha. Pranayama (yogic breathing) improves the health & functioning of the energy body and makes us more sensitive to it.
Mana-maya Kosha : The mind / mental body
This is the level of the ‘individual mind’. Our attitudes, emotions, personality, desire, nature, strengths & weaknesses, patterns of thought are all aspects of Mana-maya Kosha. This is sometimes called chattering mind
Through Meditation and other practices we can bring balance and equilibrium to the mind.
An agitated mind gets in the way of our understanding of ourselves. By witnessing and observing the activity of the mind we learn to understand it better; gradually the mind becomes more balanced, lucid and clear.
Vigyana-maya Kosha : The intuitive / higher mental body
This is a more subtle, ‘higher’ aspect of the mind which opens up insight and understanding. Witnessing, or observing our thoughts and feelings, our experiences is part of this Kosha.
Vigyana-maya Kosha is beyond the limitations of our personality and leads to an awareness of our true, underlying nature.
At this level we are united. The harmony and clarity we all experience when we connect with a higher level of mind is common to us all.
Ananda-maya Kosha : The blissful body
This is the purity and perfection at the centre of our being. We can access Ananda-maya Kosha in meditation and thereby catch a glimpse of the joy and bliss of pure Awareness.
“Knowing and experiencing Anandamaya Kosha gives meaning to our life and to existence”
from General, posted June 2020