Welcome to the next 5 weeks where we will be discovering the Koshas. Koshas mean Sheaths – referring to the protective covering of a sword called a scabbard. They are coverings or layers over the true self, in this case called the Atman. This comes from the Taittiriya Upanishad that lays out a map, to guide us through the physical, subtle and causal bodies. The goal of studying the Koshas is to cultivate awareness, understanding and effective skills in maintaining, utilising and clearing these bodies…Living out our purpose (dharma) and refining our actions (karma).
This week we will focus on the AnnaMaya Kosha. Anna means Food, Physical Matter, Maya means “made of”, “consists of”, so a loose translation of the term AnnaMaya is “food body”. What you eat, you become and eventually, when you die, you will become food for someone else. The Annamaya Kosha is said to be made of the 5 Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether. Yogis understood the laws of nature to attain greater health, power, knowledge, wisdom and sustain a joyful embodiment.
Annamaya Kosha demands a lot of energy. Prana – Life Force or Vital Energy as a Flame. Agni – Heat of the Flame. Tejas -Light Radiance from the Flame. Ojas – Candle Wax or Fuel of vital nutrients that gives energy, strength and immunity we need to sustain the Flame. So focusing on the Prana Vayu, the direction of energy and how it moves within our bodies. Prana Vayu is the movement of energy of ingesting, receiving Vital energy, impressions, and information. Apana Vayu, eliminates the waste of the impressions, energy removes that which doesn’t serve us any longer…Physically, Energetically and Mentally. Asana serves to balance, stabilise and purify the body. Choosing the right food, the right amount of Prana to function physically and support Asana and to Pranically sustain that energy is what Annamaya Kosha is all about.
So what builds a strong Annamaya Kosha is: Asana, diet, vitamins, minerals, ayurvedic herbs, mastery of 5 senses to be fully aware of the bodies needs, regular exercise and the building of Ojas (some suggestions are rest, self-care, massage, moderate sex, yoga nidra and dreamless states of sleep). Making these lifestyle choices help build a strong Annamaya Kosha and will ensure that your Pranic Flame burns bright, effectively becoming self-sustaining and you will benefit from the heat that will motivate you to do life well.
A few thoughts to focus on for an Annamaya Kosha based practice– Feel and sense the Physical Body. Reflect on how well you treat it. What foods, sleep, exercise, pleasure, connections with others you give it? Do you nurture it or battle with it? Do you listen to your body to make better choices?