Yes, that is true! In yogic terms we have five bodies (layers), not just the gross physical body. They are know as the FIVE KOSHAS! They map out both the Physical Body (muscles, bones and organs), the Energy Body and various levels of the mind.
Although these five layers are explained separately, it is important to see them as interacting dimensions of a whole. Changes in one layer can have an effect on all of the others.
Are you curious to know more about it!? So let's explore all of them below!
The first layer is considered to be the ANNAMAYA KOSHA, our Physical Body.
It is composed of our gross physical body - the flesh, blood, bones, muscles, etc.
“Anna‟ means food. This body is based in the elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) and is dominated by the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha).
The second layer is the PRANAMAYA KOSHA, our Energetic Body.
This body represents the manifestation of our life force or energy (Prana).
It is composed of the FIVE PRANAS (prana, apana, udana, samana and vyana) and the FIVE MOTOR ORGANS (mouth, hands, feet, urino-genital and excretory systems).
The third layer is the MANOMAYA KOSHA, our Mental Body.
It encompasses the outer mind (manas) and deals with sensory perception and knowledge of the outside world. It is composed of the five sense organs (ears, skin, eyes, tongue and nose). It is essentially the rational mind that perceives the world in an objective manner (i.e.: hot/cold, light / dark, colours, sounds, etc).
The fourth layer is known as VIJNANAMAYA KOSHA, our Wisdom Body (The word “Jnana” means “knowledge”).
It is composed of our intelligence and reason and is the aspect of the mind. At this level the mind deals with discrimination and value judgements and it does so by looking out in two directions. When looking outwards it allows us to organise the input from the eternal world. When looking inwards it allows us to discriminate and compute what is happening at the Anandamaya (bliss body).
And finally the fifth and deeper layer of our body is the ANANDAMAYA KOSHA, our Bliss Body (Inner Mind)
It is based on the aspects of love, faith and intuitive feeling. The inner mind holds the Samskaras and the three Gunas.
Just to give you a brief explanation, the Samskaras are the deepest thoughts, intentions and aspirations being the seed motivations behind our behaviour. In the same way that DNA holds our genetic code, which affects the physical body;
Talking about the Gunas (Sanskrit for strands or qualities), they are energetic forces that weave together to form the universe and everything in it. There are three gunas, and each of them have their own unique attributes.
They are known as: Tamas (stability), Rajas (activity), and Sattva (consciousness). It might help to think of gunas as tendencies: the habitual ways you respond to any situation that arises.
All three gunas are present in every experience in a constantly shifting relationship with one another. One quality is always more present or dominant than the others, depending on what challenge you’re facing—and, most important, how you respond to it.
The Anandamaya kosha holds our imprint for given tendencies or behaviours which affect the mind. It is this aspect of the mind that attracts us to particular personalities or circumstances and which has knowledge of past lives.
I hope it helped you to know a little bit more about the five layers of your body and how your body, mind and spirit tend to work in these aspects! It is very important to look after all these layers to maintain a health and happy life.
Regular physical exercise such as yoga, as well as mental and physical activities such as pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation, combined with a healthy diet and intelectual activities play a big influence on your Five Koshas (Five Layers of the Body) and on its functions. So keep it in mind and don’t forget to take care of yourself!