Last week we discussed very briefly the five Koshas, or sheaths, which describe us at every level of our being: physical, energetic, mental/emotional, wisdom, and bliss, all leading to the Self, or the true essence of existence. Each week in September, we will explore in depth each of these layers. This week, lets look at the Annamaya Kosha, the Physical Body.
Annamaya Kosha represents the entirety of the gross body, the densest level of our being. In Sanskrit, "anna" means "food", and annamayakosha refers to that which is nourished by food. It includes not just the anatomical structures (skin, bones, muscles, organs, etc.) and physiological processes, but also the essential building blocks of the body from an esoteric point of view, such as the five elements, the chakras, or energy channels.
There are several practices which help one to connect with the physical body. For example, yoga asanas (poses), dance, movement, massage, and of course, meditation. In many forms of meditation, one is guided through a body scan in order to "check in" with the physical body.
In Yoga Nidra meditation, the body scan can be considered the gateway to the subtler layers of being. We also call this a rotation of consciousness. Through body scanning, we systematically name and observe the gross body. Notice the term "observe"-- in Yoga Nidra, we are not trying to change anything that may be happening in the physical body; we are simply noticing the presence of each body part, perhaps noticing how it is feeling, but not trying to modify it in any way. It is a practice of pure awareness. By simply noticing, there is no pressure to change or alter anything, thereby encouraging a sense of ease within the practice, which in turn allows the mind to delve into the subtler bodies with ease.
Next week, we'll begin delving into the subtle bodies, beginning with the Energy Body, or Pranamaykosha.
I am always thrilled to share the practice of Yoga Nidra meditation, for I believe that all beings deserve to experience feelings of universal oneness and bliss. You are always welcome to contact me with questions, and of course, to experience the benefits of Yoga Nidra meditation with me!