The Upanishads described Five Kośas (layers) of our existence which range from the densest part of our being (physical body), to the most vast and subtle (inner joy/peace). Annamaya-kosha consists of our physical-material body, Āsana (physical posture) and a healthy diet helps to keep this physical layer in good working order so we can experience life through our bodies with ease. Pranamaya-kosha which surrounds and penetrates the physical body is influenced and fuelled by prāṇa (life force) absorbed through the breath and food. The practice of prāṇāyāma (breathing) helps to keep energy flowing freely, which in turn affects and influences the health of the physical body. The Manomaya-kosha consists of the thinking mind and emotions. The thoughts and emotions we experience affect the energy flow in and around us, which in turn affect our energetic and physical health. By becoming aware of our thoughts, judgements, and emotions as they arise, abide and dissolve through the practice of sense-withdrawal (pratyahara) and one-pointed concentration can help us to make space to all of our thoughts and emotions without pushing them away enhancing the overall state of our wellbeing.
Vijnanamaya-kosha is our inner knowing and wisdom. Through the process of āsana, prāṇāyāma, dhārana and meditation, the mind starts to still and in this moment is free from the influence of thoughts, emotions and experience.
Beyond this and yet comprising them all is Anandamaya-kosha (bliss sheath). This is the aspect of our being which we recognise as a deep inner peace, free from our thoughts, emotions, energy and body, and yet at the same time embracing them all.
Like Dorothy in Oz, Lucy in Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and Boo in Monster Inc…. a door is sometimes more than what it first seems! Every doorway offers a potential passage to a new experience, perspective and is just waiting to be discovered! In yoga, physical postures (asana) is what many people come for and in this respect could be seen as the ‘doorway’ and the start of a deeper passage and journey into self discovery offering a new perspective on the self and the world around you.