Koshas – The Layers of Ourselves

Another dabbling in the philosophical aspects of yoga.  This one is about the different layers of the body, all of which need nourishing and can impact our lives in multiple ways.  The Koshas were first described in the Upanishads over 3,000 years ago, yet remain relevant today.

In this post I will briefly describe each of the five layers and in future posts will delve into each layer and how I feel that the layer within me has been impacted through the process of yoga teacher training as well as practicing yoga in general.

  • Annamaya – the physical body, exactly what it sounds like
  • Pranamaya – the energetic body, breath that is our source of life
  • Manomaya – the mental body, our thought processes
  • Vijanamaya – the wisdom body, perhaps thought of as the philosophical mind
  • Anandamaya – the emotional body

All of these parts of our being need attention to live a balanced and fulfilled life.  As we are all individuals, nurturing some of these aspects will come more naturally to each of us than others will.  Some aspects will need more attention to become balanced and this can change depending on the seasons of the year and events of our lives.


Favorite Yoga Poses

As part of the yoga teacher training I went through we had an exam.  One of the questions was to list five poses I can’t live without any why.  I wanted to share ten of my favorite poses with you, in no particular order, and would love to know what your favorite poses are (and why)!

  1. Downward Facing Dog – love the stretch and the feeling of being grounded
  2. Camel – favorite backbend, forces me to breath evenly and great counter move for after bike rides
  3. Tree – like the balancing challenge and the sense of calm needed to stay balanced, it’s almost meditative
  4. Triangle – so many good things, balancing, the stretch, grounding into the floor, options to include a bind and change the pose even more
  5. Reclining Butterfly – I feel very connected to my body and like I can really tune into what my body needs and it is just incredibly relaxing
  6. Pigeon – I’m really learning to like this pose because it really gets into my hips and IT band, falls into the category of sometimes the things you like to do the least are what you need to do the most
  7. Runners Lunge – love the options to drop to a low lunge, add a twist or use this as a start to rise up into crescent lunge
  8. Bridge – this is a great shoulder and hip opener and like using props to change the pose from an active to a more passive, or yin pose at the end of a practice
  9. Twists – reclining twist, elevated reclining twist or a supported twist lying over bolsters, I enjoy the stretching feel of the twist through the side of my torso and into my hips and legs
  10. Child’s pose – having the opportunity to relax, melt my forehead into the mat and let my hips sink between my feet is very calming

Adding a few sun salutations to this mix and ending with savasana makes for one of my favorite home practices.

Look forward to hearing your favorite poses!

Patanjali’s Sutras

Yoga teacher training touched on the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga and specifically the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.  Other texts were mentioned as well, but Patanjali provides a short and seemingly simple path.  I say seemingly because I’ve outlined the path below – eight things, you think, how hard could that be – as they are all items that deserve attention on their own.  This post will serve as a reference as more time is later spent on the various items and their interpretations and applications in my own life.

  1. Yamas – ethical standards, actions relating to external world
    1. Ahimsa – Do no harm
    2. Satya – Truthfulness, in word and thought
    3. Asteya – Non-stealing / coveting
    4. Brahmacharya – Abstinence
    5. Aparigraha – Non-possessiveness
  2. Niyamas – self-discipline, relating to ourselves
    1. Saucha – Cleanliness
    2. Samtosa – Contentment
    3. Tapas – Spiritual
    4. Svadhyaya – Study of vedic scriptures
    5. Isvara pranidhana – Worship of God
  3. Asana – the physical poses
  4. Pranayama – controlling the breath
  5. Pratyahara – detaching from senses, while remaining aware
  6. Dharana – concentration on a single point
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – oneness  with meditation object and  per Patanjali a state of ecstasy