When I guide Yoga Nidra meditation, I tell my students that they will be taking a journey inward, peeling back the various layers of their being to rediscover and nourish their true and tender Self. I wanted to use the next few Journal entries to explore these layers of being a little further and share a little bit of the theory which provides the main framework of Yoga Nidra meditation. So each week for the month of September, I will illustrate a journey through the Five Koshas, the gross and subtle bodies surrounding our true Self, the very center of our being.
Kosha is a Sanskrit word meaning "sheath" or "covering," which envelops the Self. There are five Koshas, which describe us at each of our levels: physical, energetic, psychological, intuitive, and spiritual. If you visualize peeling back the layers of an onion, or opening up Russian dolls, you will get the idea behind the five Koshas. Each metaphorical sheath is contained within the next, and they are also interwoven. These layers of being provide a spiritual roadmap, allowing us to methodically navigate the inner journey to the Soul/Self. The Koshas help describe the process of going inward, bringing the body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit into balance.
The Koshas describe us at each of our levels. Through the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, we come to know our Koshas and as such travel ever closer to our true Self. In the next few weeks, we will explore each of these Five Koshas in more detail. For now, here is a brief description:
- Anamaya Kosha, The Physical Body: This represents the entirety of a person-- skin, bones, muscles, organs, vessels, fluids, elements. In Yoga Nidra meditation, we explore the physical body through body scanning techniques
- Pranamaya Kosha, The Energy Body: Through awareness of the breath as it circulates throughout the body, one becomes aware of the energy body. In Yoga Nidra meditation, we regard the energy body by noticing, being curious about the breath as it flow in and out of our bodies.
- Manomaya Kosha, The Mental-Emotional Body: It is at this level that we process thoughts and feelings. In Yoga Nidra meditation, rather than try to suppress thoughts and feelings, we allow them to bubble up, regard them without judgement, thereby allowing them to be released. When we no longer repress our emotions, we come closer into balance.
- Vijanamaya Kosha, The Intuitive/Witness Body: It is in this layer that the higher mind resides., Witness Consciousness is that aspect of the self that observes each level of our being without judgement. Here we see beyond our individual conditioning and limiting beliefs, then are able to achieve deep transformation and healing. Each stage of Yoga Nidra meditation invites the Witness body to participate
- Anandamaya Kosha, The Bliss Body: This is the layer of being that is the closest to our true Self, a place of pure joy and awareness. This is the part of us that it untouched by trauma or pain; its essential nature is joy and wholeness, and represents all of a person's best qualities-- generosity, courage, compassion, benevolence, empathy, and so on. In Yoga Nidra meditation, we can access this layer of our being through guided imagery, journey, and resting in harmony with the creative forces of the universe
As we practice Yoga Nidra meditation, each Kosha drops into the background as we get ever closer to our true Self, allowing us to experience complete oneness and unity which is always joined with the universe.
Next week, we will explore the Annamaya Kosha/Physical Body more in-depth!
I am always excited to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that everyone deserves to experience these feelings of universal oneness and bliss. You are always invited and welcome to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me.