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Discover Your True-Self by Understanding the 5 Layers of Self – the 5 Koshas

Discover Your True-Self by Understanding the 5 Layers of Self - the 5 Koshas

In Yoga philosophy, there are 5 layers to who you are, which are called ‘Kosha’ in Sanskrit. The Koshas are first explained in the ancient text ‘Taittriya Upanishad’ which dates back to 6th Century BCE.

‘Kosha’ means ‘sheath’ or ‘veil’. The Koshas are the five layers of awareness and you can visualise like the layers of an onion in the subtle body where the center is an essence of who you are – the ‘Soul’, or ‘True Self’ and it’s covered by all the other layers that make up the body mind complex. The layers are closely related and the state of one affects all the other layers.

The Five Koshas are (starting from the most outer layer):


Physical Body (Annamaya Kosha)


Energetic Body (Pranamaya Kosha)


Mental Body (Manomaya Kosha)


Wisdom Body (Vijnanamaya Kosha)


Bliss Body (Anandamaya Kosha)

Yoga Philosophy: 5 Koshas - 5 Layers of Being

When you have alignment in all 5 Koshas, you are most balanced, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Movement (Asana), breathwork (Pranayama) and meditation (Dhyana) can help re-balance and discover each layer to bring the individual closer to the True Self.

Annamaya Kosha – the Physical Body

‘Anna’ means ‘food’ in Sanskrit. It’s your physical body that is visible and can be touched.

It’s your five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing) It’s the densest part of who you are.

Annamaya Kosha is made from the food you eat as well as what you inherit from your ancestors and your parents, including the food they were eating, memories, experiences, traumas and lifestyles are all encoded in your physical body.

The way to re-balance, heal and bring harmony in the physical body is through practicing Asana (the physical Yoga practice) as well as other exercises and the food you eat.

By practicing Asana, you’ll be able to learn to listen to the physical messages of the body and deepen the awareness of the physical body which enables the Prana (life force or vital energy) to flow properly.

Food is also a very important aspect of Annamaya Kosha as the state of Annamaya Kosha depends on the food you consume – ‘you are what you eat’! Following Ayurvedic guidelines for healthy sustainable eating can help bring harmony in the physical body.

Pranamaya Kosha – the Energetic Body

‘Prana’ means ‘life force’ or ‘vital energy’ in Sanskrit that flows within our body. It’s untouchable but you can feel it.

It’s a powerful bridge between Annamaya Kosha (the physical body) and Manomaya Kosha (the mental body) and it is connected to the breath.

Unlike Annamaya Kosha and Manomaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha is not inherited but rather, you build it yourself.

The breath is the main source of Prana. As you become more conscious with your own breath, you’ll start to notice that your breath is constantly changing according to the situation, thoughts, emotional state and environment you are in. One conscious deep breath can almost immediately change your thoughts and shift how you feel.

By practicing specific Pranayama (breathing exercises), we can strengthen this energetic body as well as the physical and mental body.

Manomaya Kosha – the Mental Body

‘Manas’ means ‘mind’ in Sanskrit. It’s the body that is made up of thoughts and built up every moment by our society, culture, family, friends, schools and advertising – information that comes from outside of ourselves and makes up who we think you are.

We also hold energies and subtle impressions of past actions or from previous lives which shape how we think and behave.

Japa (chanting) meditation is one of the important tools to re-balance Manomaya Kosha by exploring the mind, sorting through our conflicting thoughts and clearing them out which help us then go inward, to and through the remaining Koshas.

Vijnanamaya Kosha – the Wisdom Body

‘Vijnana’ means ‘wisdom’ or ‘knowing’ in Sanskrit. It’s a layer of intuition and insight.

It governs the wisdom mind, meaning whereas Manomaya Koshas is a processing and thinking of the mind, Vijnanamaya Kosha has the capacity of discernment and a higher level of awareness of our patterns and motivations. When the mind is balanced, we start to witness our thoughts, experiences and judgments with evenness and clarity and we are able to choose wisely which thoughts we are going to pay attention to.

Practicing daily meditation on pure awareness helps expand and connect to Vijnanmaya Kosha.

Anandamaya Kosha – the Bliss Body

‘Ananda’ means ‘bliss’ in Sanskrit. Bliss is the essence of who you are, our true nature – it’s peace, joy and love that is underneath and beyond the mind.

Connecting to this bliss is our ‘dharma’, our ‘life purpose’. We experience this ‘blissful’ state naturally when we are involved in a favourite hobby or when we experienced spontaneous joy.

By developing the capacity for insight through Vijnanamaya Kosha, it allows us to experience ‘Ananda’ more regularly.

Practicing Balanced Yoga

In the West, many people practice Yoga as a purely physical practice, but by incorporating all five elements of Yoga – movement (Asana), breathwork (Pranayama), soundwork (Mantra), meditation (Dhyana) and Yogic wisdom, you’ll start to expand and connect to each Kosha and bring you closer to True-Self and experience ‘Ananda’ – a blissful state.

Any question? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to DM me via Instagram.

P.S. If you are curious to discover what food and lifestyle choices and Yoga style to practice for your specific mind-body type, the first step is to take my Dosha quiz and discover your Ayurvedic Dosha – your mind-body type!

You will then receive some practical tips & recommendation on which foods, lifestyle habits and Yoga style are best for your specific Dosha.