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Working with the Pancha Maya Koshas

The word Pancha Maya Kosha can be translated as Five (Pancha) Illusion (Maya) Sheaths (Kosha), within the book Prana and Pranayama Swami Niranhanananda Saraswati describes the Pancha Maya Koshas as “the five spheres in which a human being lives at any given moment”

When looking within the Taittiriya Upanishad, a human being is described as having five sheaths, or koshas, it is said that these koshas fit into each other, encasing the soul like the layers of an onion. Ultimately the Taittiriya Upanishad puts forward the concept that we are more than just our bodies, that we are infact body, mind and spirit

“Human beings consist of a material body built from the food they eat. Those who care for this body are nourished by the universe itself.

“Inside this is another body made of life energy. It fills the physical body and takes its shape. Those who treat this vital force as divine experience excellent health and longevity because this energy is the source of physical life.

“Within the vital force is yet another body, this one made of thought energy. It fills the two denser bodies and has the same shape. Those who understand and control the mental body are no longer afflicted by fear.

“Deeper still lies another body comprised of intellect. It permeates the three denser bodies and assumes the same form. Those who establish their awareness here free themselves from unhealthy thoughts and actions, and develop the self-control necessary to achieve their goals.

“Hidden inside it is yet a subtler body, composed of pure joy. It pervades the other bodies and shares the same shape. It is experienced as happiness, delight, and bliss.”

Through our day to day living our experiences are said to veil our true eternal nature.  The path of yoga is said to heighten our understanding and awareness of the koshas. Eventually, the aim of yoga is to move inward, taking a journey through these layers, uncovering our true nature, or Atman (the inner self).

This is described in the Yoga Sutras of PatanjaliYoga citti vrtti nirodah” roughly translated means “Yoga frees you from the drama, the tragedy the saga your mind creates and allows you to experience your true self

The Koshas

 

The Koshas (the five layers)

Each of the five Koshas relates to a different part of our self’s when working with the koshas we begin to acknowledge how we feel from the outside in.

Annamaya Kosha – The food body

Annamaya Kosha is associated with our physical body, it is known as the food sheath and relates to how we nutritionally feed our body, however the feeding of our body aspect can also include our inner dialogue, our conduct or whether we engage in gossip.

Pranamaya Kosha – The energy body

Pranamaya Kosha is much more subtle than our physical body, it is our energy body, prana or life force energy moves around our bodies via channels known as nadis.  We can cultivate energy within our body via food and water, but it may also come into the body via our breath.

Manomaya Kosha – the mental body

Manomaya Kosha is our mental body it is the part of us that creates meaning out of the world we inhabit, this layer takes care of our instinctual needs and individual desires compromising of passing thoughts, images, perceptions, and emotions within which we think, fantasize and daydream.

Vijnanamaya Kosha – The wise body

Vijnanamaya Kosha is our wisdom body it is the layer where we connect to a deeper level of intuition, greater internal wisdom and a sense of higher knowledge. It’s where you can stop identifying with your powerful thoughts and self-descriptions, and just witness your mind and your life.

Anandanmaya Kosha – The bliss body

Anandanmaya Kosha is our bliss body, it is the most hidden part of us and provides us with the instinctive sense that life is worth living, that to be alive is good, it is the level where we no longer feel separate, and we are One and the Same.

Death is not total. The physical body dies or the mind dies, but not the soul” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

So how on earth can we work with the Koshas?

The Panacha Maya Koshas are almost like an instruction manual for living a yogic lifestyle in that working on one aspect leads to the next and so on until we reach Samadhi or Bliss.

Move your body, put on your favourite song and dance, focus on the movement and how those moves feel, this is Annamaya Kosha this kosha can also relate to how we feed and nourish our bodies, with food as well as emotionally nourish our bodies with kind words and thoughts. “What we think about ourselves or others can be as powerful as any physical attempt to harm”

Out of breath from all that dancing? have a seat and take a few deep cleansing breaths, how do you feel, how do those breaths feel? this is Pranayama Kosha where we begin to focus on our energy and work with the breath to bring our energy levels up or down helping to maintain a calm mind and balanced emotions.

Prana is the basis of life and can be directly controlled through the breath” “ When prana moves, chitta (the mental force) moves. When prana is without movement, chitta is without movement. By this (steadiness of prana) the yogi attains steadiness and should thus restrain the vayu (air)” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Once you have your breath back you may feel like closing your eyes and taking your awareness further into the breath this is Manomaya Kosha Where we use meditation in conjunction with asana (movement) and pranayama (breathing) to go further into ourselves. “Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence” “When the mind has settled, we are established in our essential nature, which is unbounded consciousness” – The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

And maybe whilst your still and your eyes are closed your favourite song pops into your head and swirls round and round your mind taking you further into Manomaya Kosha this is Vijnanamaya Kosha using a mantra as your focus during pranayama (breathing) and meditation.  Of course if you really want to up your yoga game then there are lots and lots of ancient mantras.

Saha Navavatu would be an ideal mantra to use whilst working on Vijnanamaya Kosha,

Sa ha na vava tu “May god protect us both (the teacher and the student)”

Sa ha nau bhunak tu “May god nourish us both”

Sa ha viryam kara vava hai “May we work together with energy and vigor”

Te jasvi nava hita mas tu, Ma vid vish ava hai “May our study be enlightening and not give rise to hostility” 

Finally Anandanmaya Kosha is the state and experience of bliss we are said to experience after working through the four previous koshas, it is said to be the most spiritual or subtle of the five Koshas,

Perhaps after all that dancing, catching your breath, closing your eyes and bringing your awareness to your breath, allowing your favourite song (or yogic mantra) to swirl around your mind you experience a moment of happiness (bliss) then maybe, just maybe you have experienced a little look into Anananmaya Kosha!

Above all whatever you do have fun 🙂

With all my love, Linda xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reflection

I don’t know about you but I am feeling as if there is a definite change in the air, the nights are slowly beginning to draw in and summer seems to be coming to an end.

I’ve recently been journalling which is an awesome way of letting go of thoughts and making sense of the crazy ideas I hold onto, I would highly recommend it, keeping a journal has helped me reflect and I’ve found that I’ve begun looking at things with love and gratitude.

This week I have been super grateful for my friends and family – those awesome people keep me grounded and sane

Keeping a journal is simple, my journal is just a super tiny notebook I carry everywhere with me, anytime I have a random thought I pop it in there, getting all those little thoughts out definitely makes all the difference to my mood and mindset.

Do you journal? share your top tips with me below 🙂

With all my love Linda xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lost and found

Recently I’ve been feeling lost, I know that sounds pretty vague but I’m sure we’ve all had that feeling, especially if you feel stuck in the same old routine almost as if everything you do has no meaning, like whatever you say isn’t authentic or valid.

but when did everything have to become so complicated? when did we have to be found?

Its absolutely ok to feel this way!

At times like this I love to disappear, to not look at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram I love to just spend time actually engaging in real conversation with real friends away from phones and computers.

So if you’re feeling a little lost, here are a few simple ways to find yourself again.

Look after you, its taken me years to realise that you cant please everyone so saying no to things you don’t want to do isn’t you being selfish its you showing yourself some kindness and love.

Listen to music, sing and dance like no one is watching, I love to practise yoga to music and doing funky yoga dances defo makes me grin.

Or even..

Just sit, honour your feelings and know its ok to feel like this, write all the stuff down and let it go.

Breathe, its automatic, if we didn’t breathe we wouldn’t be here BUT its very easy to forget to take a real deep breath.

How do you find yourself when you’re feeling lost?

Heres a little recording of my fav relaxations from one of my classes!

With all my love Linda xxx

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Spring Equinox

Today marks the first day of spring for countries in the Northern Hemisphere and spring is most definitely in the air, I’ve spotted some daffodils, crocus and even some teeny tiny lambs already,  I don’t know about you but Winter seems to get longer and longer the older I get so I’m super glad were moving out of that darker phase and into lightness!

What is Spring Equinox?

The equinox occurs because of the tilt of the Earth in relation to the Sun, this means that  nights get a little shorter and days a little longer – yay!

Celebrate and throw some shapes!

The Spring Equinox has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth, here are some awesome yoga poses to help you through this season.

Balasana

Balasana (Childs Pose) a great one to help you reconnect with your body and mind.

All Fours

All Fours use this pose to centre yourself and decide where your going next.

Anjaneyasana

Anjaneyasana (Lunge) a gentle hip opener guaranteed to wake up the legs and the hips.

Anjaneyasana Twist

Anjaneyasana twist (Lunge Twist) use this pose to awaken the internal organs, this one is said to help detox the body.

Down Dog

Ardho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) this pose gives you a full body stretch!

Tadansana

Tadasana (Mountain Pose) an awesome grounding pose that brings awareness to the whole body allowing you to stand tall.

VB1

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I)  A super strong pose that builds strength in the legs as well as opening the hips.

Vriksasana

Vriksasana (Tree Pose) A very grounding pose which has the added benefit of being a hip opener.

Uttanasana

Uttansanana (Standing Forward Fold) an intense stretch for the calves, hamstrings and glutes.

Turn those shapes into a little spring flow!

Spring flow lunge

Take a few deep breaths in Child’s Pose.

Before coming up to All Fours.

Step a foot forward and hang out in Anjaneyasana.

Twist towards your bent knee, extending the opposite hand upwards into Anjaneyasana Twist.

Step the front foot back to find All Fours.

Rest and breath in Child’s Pose.

Repeat on both sides. Spring Flow Dog 2

From Childs Pose come up into All Fours.

Tuck the toes under and raise your bum up into Down Dog, stay here for a few breaths.

before stepping the feet forward and rising up into Mountain Pose.

Spring Flow Warrior

From Mountain Pose step one foot forward to come into Warrior.

Step the foot back to come into your Tree Pose

Stand tall in Mountain Pose

Before folding from the hips with a big bend in the knees to find Uttanasana

Take a deep breath and come back up to Mountain Pose

Repeat on both sides.

Annnnnnd rest, I really hope you’ve enjoyed these mini flows, let me know your favourite way to welcome the change of the seasons below, With all my love Linda xxx

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Only Love

February is the month associated with love, you can’t go anywhere without being surrounded by love heart balloons, teddies, cards, and chocolates. Even though its really lovely to declare our undying love to our partners, friends or children why just make one day about that?

The closest definition of love within yoga is Ahimsa, Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word and is described in the dictionary as:

(in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jainist tradition) respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others.

Lets reflect on the above for just a moment, typically, Ahimsa can be summed up as non harming, and yep definitely avoiding violence which is a super strong word, isn’t it? violence isn’t just your typical punching people violence, that is absolutely frowned upon! This violence is also violence towards yourself and others through your thoughts, your words and your actions.

•Have you ever gotten caught up in office gossip and gone home that night and thought about it over and over?

•Have you ever had an argument with your friend or partner and spent the day replaying it all over and over in your head, perhaps even cursing yourself for not saying something you’ve thought of after the event?

•Maybe you’ve been the subject of gossip.

•Maybe someone has been unkind to you.

For a moment think back and reflect how these have made you feel.

Then spend a moment reflecting on how have they made the other person feel?

I’m guessing it doesn’t make you feel great, knowing that we’ve caused distress to ourselves or others is quite a shitty feeling.  THIS is violence.

Why not join me in spending the month of February and beyond being kinder to ourselves and others?

This famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi says it way better than I ever could..

MG

It may help you feel lighter, it may reduce any stressy feelings you have, above all spreading love helps you feel loved!

With all MY love Linda xxx

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Overcoming those dreaded January blues

After all the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year I tend to hit a bit of a wall and begin feeling down – those dreaded January blues. It’s not full-blown depression but a ‘meh’ feeling which looms over the month of January. And it turns out that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Typically January is the time of year for the ‘New Year, New Me’ mentality. Gym memberships sky rocket and we proclaim that we’ll be shinier, better versions of ourselves.

2017 for me was a whirlwind of teacher training courses, yoga classes, yoga workshops and family time with a bit of house renovation thrown into the mix. This year I plan on slowing down a little and pencilling in time for myself, I love the idea of starting January with a fresh new outlook and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.

Here are my five self-care tips for helping you sail through the month of January


Ditch the goals

Is that a gasp I hear! 2017 for me was all about the goals, and yes goals do work for me. However fixating on goals and worrying about goals doesn’t work so well.

This year rather than setting myself major goals I have decided to list my achievement’s each month, these don’t need to be major achievement’s  even the little things count.


Turns those frowns upside down

I recently downloaded an app called 3 good things, you can set daily prompts to remind you to list (yep you’ve guessed it) three good things that happened each day. It’s really shifted my focus from all the doom and gloom to the actual lovely things that have happened.

You can find it here


Put the phone down

Looking at your phone (or any screen for that matter) at night can trick our bodies into thinking its morning, this not only disturbs our sleeping patterns but can also kick start our tummies into I want food mode, causing us to eat or snack at times we wouldn’t normally.

January is the perfect time of year to hibernate, so if you can, put your phone down and try to go to bed a little earlier and get up a little later.

Trust me your body and mind will thank you.


Make some time for you

It’s an old cliché and I almost flinched writing this but as the old saying goes ‘you cannot pour from a cup that’s empty’. Taking time out can do wonders for your mind as well as your body, so why not run a big bath and read a good book, if you’ve got candles why not go the whole hog and create your own spa experience.


Get out and about

Wrap up and go for a walk, gentle exercise such as walking helps our bodies’ release those feel good endorphins that help us feel great, personally I love the crispness of the air this time of year, it feels great to be out wandering about.

Whilst out use the experience of walking as your focus, notice objects around you, notice the wind, the sun and the rain, the sounds of nature of other people and machines and become aware of your body.

And guess what? Hey presto, a little walking meditation!


I really hope this blog post has made you smile, here’s to an absolutely wonderful 2018 where for once you look after you!