A yoga platform and a picture of a grevillea

Genus Grevillea, family Proteaceae

It’s time to get back to a yoga platform here, after my efforts to try and save local beaches the other day and yesterday’s bemoaning of the brazen marketing use of social media.
Let’s talk about Koshas, a word that resembles “kosher” but is as far from Jewish dietary restrictions as Grevilleas are from Geraniums.
Koshas, a Sanskrit word, are often defined as the layers or sheaths, of a person. Another way koshas are described is like a set of Russian dolls – five of them. The five sheaths are layers of being that in total make up all we are and can be.
Why bother with such a paradigm? I suppose it makes it simpler to see what might be missing in the fullest expression of ourselves so we can cultivate that part to complete ourselves.
Now, I’m not a yoga philosopher or scholar, so what I’m saying here is my interpretation of an idea, but it’s one that works for me.
The first Kosha is called Anamayakosha and has to do with the physical body and its systems, including the senses. We encounter this level in a yoga session that emphasises physical exercises. Each moment in each pose is an opportunity to be fully in our bodies. Have you noticed how much of what we do throughout the day and night is what I call an out-of-body experience. Because of habit, because we have to work to deadlines, because we are thinking of others instead of ourselves, we do what we have to do without really being in our bodies.
Yoga postures can train you to feel and sense what you are doing and help you get back into your body even while you are in action. They can help you be fully embodied, sensitive, more alive and in the moment.
In the course of my yoga practice over the years, I’ve endeavoured to train myself to cultivate body awareness. I’m often surprised at my lack of focus and that I’m still working on being attentive. As they say, though, every time that you notice that you’re not paying attention, you’ve brought yourself back to the present. Something that I must do again and again.
The body is such an amazing machine. It does our bidding, and it also can carry on pretty well without any input at all. Our corporality is a complete miracle and such a beautiful source of life’s pleasures. And all that’s needed is to be there to appreciate and enjoy them.
Looking at Anamayakosha, the physical body, is a way to see how we’re travelling. Are there difficulties that we’d rather not pay any attention to? Perhaps if we are fortunate enough to be well attuned to the body, we can avoid some physical problems.In the case when the body or its systems are out of balance though, we have recourse to therapeutic or remedial yoga.
What I’ve seen in working therapeutically with students is that it makes a huge difference in promoting healing when body awareness is learned. There’s an opportunity, for one thing, to start to take responsibility for one’s condition, injury, or disease. Out-of-bodiness doesn’t have to be a permanent state, and the connecting back to our physical being is thrilling for someone who’s been away from “home” for a long time. Partly because there really isn’t anywhere else to live.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Archives