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The Subtle Body

The Subtle Body which is also known as Yogic Anatomy can be seen through the yogic map of consciousness of 3 Bodies: Physical, Astral and Causal within which we have 5 Koshas.

The Five Koshas where first mentioned in yogic texts around 3000 years ago in the Upanishads. These 5 Koshas or layers of being in yoga sense/map of consciousness. – a metaphor of awareness and the yogic path.

Yoga guides us from the most gross outer layer to the journey inwards to the centre and we can see this through the Koshas:Annamaya Kosha – Physical layer in the physical body.


Annamaya kosha translates to the food body and ancient teachings of the Upanishads talk about how what we eat affects us on many levels.
The most dense form and slow vibration compared to the lightening speed of thoughts or the illumined vibration of the soul. Affected by food we eat, asana, body awarenessPranamaya kosha- energetic layer/breath layer in the astral body.

Pranayama kosha is the layer of energy/breath. We become aware of the breath and that leads to awareness of energy and is affected by the thought and emotions. It is like an interface/link between body and thought. By regulating the breath/prana we help regulate the mind (YS discourse Book 2
Affected by pranayama – eg Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breath)

The Manamaya kosha is the mental layer in the Astral body and is affected by Mantra , meditation , pratyhara. An example of the manamaya kosha in action is observing our thoughts in yoga posture AND redirecting it back to the breath.

The Vijananmaya kosha or intellectual layer in the astral body is also known as the wisdom sheath. This level relates to Buddhi – Discernment/discrimination of the mind, personal ethics eg yamas and niyamas. Affected by Jynan yoga of study spiritual texts etcAnandamaya – bliss layer in the Causal Body and the last layer covering the divine light of the soul . We can connect to Spiritual bliss – eg moments in Savasana where we connect to oneness and of the Self merging with Divine Self.Yoga gives us the practices and methods to purify from outwards to inwards from the most gross Kosha, moving back to our essence of spirits.

The koshas are interconnected and inseparable but we can use any of them as a way to come back to our centre – eg when stressed our breath may become shallow and uneven and instead, the mind becomes anxious and the body tense and tight. Our vinyasa practise thus in this map of the Koshas demonstres this journey as yoga helps stretch, strengthen and keep the body healthy; vitalises and enhance our breath and life force; helps focus and relax the mind; helps us to access our intellect and leads us to our divine Self.


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