Thursday, April 29, 2010

the layers of you ~

Yoga philosophy says that we are like an onion (I like to imagine a Walla Walla sweet oninon) with many layers.

The outermost layer of our onion is the Annamaya Kosha, or physical self. This is the layer we hydrate, stretch, strengthen, and worry about. The Annamaya Kosha is what at first glance, makes us very unique.

In from the Annamaya Kosha is the Pranamaya Kosha, or energetic sheath. This layer is compromised of breath and energy. It gives us life, power, the ability to do.

Next is the Manomaya Kosha, or the mind layer. This layer is what makes us interesting and causes many problems. It jumps around like a monkey, having fun and exhausting us all at once. When we meditate, this is the layer we try to let go of attachment to, since it pulls us around so much.

The layer of wisdom comes next, the Vijnamaya Kosha. When we meditate and study and look inward, we nourish this layer. This is the layer of “I am”. When this layer grows clear, we come very close to the truth of who we are.

The final layer moving inward is the Anandamaya Kosha, or the blissful sheath. This is where joy and love reside, without any doing or trying, just being.

At the very center of our onion - self, is our true Self, called Atman. Atman is light. Atman is at the very basis of understanding and being. Atman is indescribable because its light changes quality as it shines through all 5 layers.

Atman is beyond your cells, beyond your actions, beyond your worries, beyond your studies, and beyond your happiness. When all of your layers become clear through yoga practice, study, and meditation, the true light of Atman will shine through you in a most amazing way.

let me know when that happens!



Emma said...

is that a small child unhappily eating an onion?

eva b said...

oy! My husband said the exact same thing! I found the pic on a website bestowing the virtues of Walla Walla sweet onions. I think she is supposed to be happy, but I guess that is up for debate...I wonder which layers of her are happy and which are not?...:)

Susan said...

One of my oldest friends has always described me as an onion. She has no yoga experience but she's pretty deep to me. And yes Eva, I agree that the child pictured looks fairly unhappy, maybe only on the surface or Annamaya Kosha?

Anonymous said...

There's also a nice metaphor about the koshas being like lampshades, each tinting the pure light that shines from the atman in its own characteristic way, (svaroopa?)
We strive for the best balance of the layers that allows the light to shine through most beautifully.

eva b said...

susan, I have an old friend also who's never taken a yoga class and is so yogically wise! I think I wrote a blog post about her a while ago, about her "oh, well" mantra.
I think its very sweet that she likened you to an onion.
Oh, maybe I should change that picture....

eva b said...

Jason, that is a lovely metaphor...sometimes when I teach I imagine that all my student's layers are a different kind of plaid, and that through the practice we are lining them up so the plaids coincide and their lights can shine. Thank goodness for the light!