Most of the time we identify with the body as our true “self”. But is this actually where our true nature lies? Yoga gives us the model of the koshas as a way to navigate the different layers of being. Below is a brief description of each of the five layers or sheaths.
Anna maya kosha. Anna means food. This is the outermost layer of the body and consists of the muscle and bones. It is the most gross/dense and the least likely to change.
Prana maya kosha. Prana means energy. It is the vital force that produces the subtle vibrations related to breath, circulation, and the nervous system.
Mana maya kosha. Mana means mind. It is the level of processing thoughts and emotions. It controls, through the prana, the physical body and the senses.
Vijnana maya kosha. Vijnana means knowing. It is the sheath of wisdom and intuition that is underneath the processing, thinking aspect of mind.
Ananda maya kosha. Ananda means bliss. This is the most subtle layer and is the residence of the soul. It is the felt experience of peace, joy, and love. Anandamaya pervades each of the previous outer sheaths, but is only experienced if we are able to peel the illusions of each sheath away to reveal our true nature.