Are We More Than Just The Physical Body?
The science of Yoga and Ayurveda are not separate but rather an integrated study – a complete & total science. In fact, the science of Ayurveda was never meant to be fragmented just as ancient physicians were well versed in astrology and various other aspects of alchemy. The understanding of both Yoga and Ayurveda helps to better comprehend that life is made up of [multidimensional] realms. More simply, the mental, emotional, and spiritual realms comprise our human experience. At times, we mistakenly perceive ourselves as merely a physical body and other times we identify ourselves with random thoughts and/or feelings. However, the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda reveals that we exist within dimensional realms [of reality] governed by sheaths or “koshas” which create our individual experiences.
The Different Koshas & Living From The Heart!!
“The Five Koshas”
We, as human beings, are not merely physical but instead an expansive energetic system organized by different layers of consciousness. According to this ancient thought, we are the summation of five layers or sheaths. These five sheaths are called “koshas” which are all connected. The koshas, which are connected and inter-related provides a model to help explain how our consciousness manifests itself as a physical, mental, and spiritual body.
1. Annamaya Kosha – The Physical Body
Anna means “food” and the physical body requires food for its very existence. Interestingly, maya means “illusion” and provides us a hint of our true identity. More simply, the body is not permanent nor is the physical body our true identity. Just as the wave is not separate from the ocean. Similarly, the human being [i.e. the wave] is not separate from all of existence [i.e. the ocean]. However, identifying strictly with the physical body creates the illusion that one is separate from all that is of the universe.
Nourishing Your Physical Body
Nourishing the body begins with a healthy daily routine otherwise known as “dinacharya“. According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, health rests upon a foundation of balance – balanced doshas, balanced digestion, and restful sleep. If any one of these pillars of balance becomes weakened, then the overall health and well-being of a person will be affected.
In managing any imbalance, Ayurveda determines which dosha [or combination of doshas] that may be out of balance and therefore takes steps to help normalize it, according to one’s unique tendencies. This process helps to seek out the root cause of any imbalance rather than treating mere symptoms.
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Ayurveda has described the underlying function of digestion and metabolism in our body as Agni [“Fire”]. Regarding the importance of Agni, the father of Ayurveda – Charak stated that when Agni of the individual is balanced then that person would be absolutely healthy and would lead a long, happy and healthy life.
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Practical Tips To Help Improve Digestion:
Although very simple these basic principles, if followed routinely, are often enough to improve your digestion and overall health. Often it’s the simple things that are most effective and oddly enough – overlooked. That said, let’s quickly take a look at the basics.
– All food should be freshly prepared, nutritious, and appetizing
– Food should generally contain all 6 tastes balanced to one’s needs
– We should leave 4-6 hours between meals with no snacking in between
– Eat your largest meal during the day when the sun it at its peak
– Relax and enjoy your meals in a calm soothing environment
Deep Rest & Blissful Sleep:
It’s nearly impossible to be healthy without adequate sleep. Sleep is essential for the maintenance and repair of the neurological, endocrine, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive systems. Rather, sleep is necessary for all systems of the body. Period. 8 Tips For Sound Sleep
Deep Rest to support sleeping deeply through the night. This herbal formula is especially targeted for those who have difficulty staying asleep, waking up in the middle of the night. But it also helps those who have difficulty falling asleep and those who awaken early in the morning after less than six hours of sleep. The herbs in Deep Rest help you to sleep deeply throughout the night — and wake up feeling refreshed, ready to take on the day.
The herbs in the Blissful Sleep formula produce a calming, balancing effect on the body, mind and emotions. You’ll find sleep becoming deeper and more restful. And you’ll wake up recharged, vitally alive, ready to take on the challenges of the day ahead.
2. Pranamaya Kosha – The Breath or Life-Force
Prana can be thought of as the subtle life-giving energy that flows in the air that we breathe. This subtle and unseen energy flows at the level of the nadis which channel throughout the body also known as the marma and chakra systems. “Prana” is breath or life-giving energy and “ayama” means control. Therefore, exercises such as “pranayama”, help to promote vitality by focusing on this life-giving force.
Taking Care Of Your Life-Force
Breath is essential to life. This demonstrates firsthand how the breath is directly connected to the mind. It’s the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do when we leave. The mind, body, and breath are intimately connected and directly influence each other. Our breathing is influenced by our thoughts, and our thoughts and physiology can be influenced by our breath. The ascetic yogis have known for centuries that the breath has amazing recuperative and rejuvenating powers. By controlling the breath, the yogis were able to alter their state of mind – rather, they were able to directly perceive the various “koshas” which create our state of being. For example, Nadi Shodhana, or “alternate nostril breathing,” is a simple yet powerful technique that helps settle the mind, body, and emotions. Nadi shodhana is particularly helpful to ease racing thoughts especially if you’re experiencing anxiety, stress, or having trouble falling asleep.
3. Manamaya Kosha – The Mind or Mental Body
Manas means “mind” and this includes all thoughts, feelings, and emotions from the common to mundane aspects of life. Often, we associate our mental state with the brain. However, according to Ayurveda and Yoga, the entire central nervous system meditates the mind which is further governed and influenced by an even further subtle energy system [i.e. nadis and chakra system] of pranamaya kosha; as explained above. We are now beginning to see how all the systems are inter-related and connected. Similarly, certain herbs have a higher vibrational energy which can influence the mind and our ability to think and experience emotions.
Herbs To Enhance The Mind
Ayurveda talks highly about a special class of herbs called “Medhya” herbs. Ultimately, by providing nourishment to the brain, these herbs are especially useful for the mind and helps to enhance learning while improving both the retention and recall of knowledge.
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Taking Care Of Your Mental Body
Mantras are medicine for the Soul. The word “mantra” can be broken down into two parts: “man,” which means mind, and “tra,” which means transport or vehicle. Therefore, a mantra is an instrument —a powerful sound or vibration that you can use to enter a deep state of meditation.
4. Gyanamaya Kosha – Intellect, Wisdom & Intuition
Gyana means “intellect” and gyanamaya kosha provides the ability of discernment. However, the meaning is even more subtle in that it implies the ability to connect to the innate intelligence of the body and embodies the hidden potential of the higher mind. In a sense, this form of intellect is beyond thought and gives us the sense that something is right and rings true; i.e. intuition. Often, profound moments of clarity arise when gaining access and tapping into the higher mind through various acts of meditation, dreams, being in nature, or simply sitting quietly in contemplation.
How To Care For Your Gyanamaya Kosha
Spiritual understanding becomes the “food” which nourishes your intellect. For example, “Jnana yoga”, also called gyana yoga, explores the truth about who we really are and the full realization of this truth brings about enlightenment. In other words, Jnana Yoga uses the intellect as a tool to understand that our true Self is behind and beyond our mind. To understand this, the mind negates all preconceived ideas [i.e. dogma] of what one thinks one is – and simply asks the question, “Who am I?”. By meditating on this one question – wisdom naturally arises spontaneously.
5. Anandamaya Kosha – Bliss Body
Ananda means “bliss” and anandamaya kosha represents the highest realm of consciousness, which is bliss. In this state of being, one experiences joy and ecstasy and is the state of mind which our spiritual masters were inspired to speak from. It seems that research centered around the benefits of meditation have now been rolling in steadily validating the ancient wisdom common to both Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurveda is an ancient science which literally means ‘the science of life’. A basic fundamental premise to both Ayurveda and Yoga is that – both a sound mind and sound body are integral to one’s overall health and well-being.
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How To Feed Your Anandamaya Kosha
Devotion and Bhakti Yoga helps to open our heart to the all-pervading consciousness. By providing seva or “selfless service” in a loving state without the expectation of something to be returned is the nourishment of our bliss body.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you,
where there were only walls.”
– Joseph Campbell
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.