One of my favorite teaching moments happened when a new student began his first private yoga session by explaining the three reasons why he didn’t like yoga: “I’m not spiritual,” “I’m not flexible,” and “I’ve had a bad experience with yoga.”
After Savasana (final relaxation), he slowly sat up, rubbed his forehead in disbelief, and then passed his hand back through his hair. He lifted his gaze and with a totally perplexed look he said, “I think I liked that?”
Hehe. That’s a gem of a moment.
He became a lifelong friend and stuck with me for the seven years I was on Long Island. He recommended me to many of his friends, and so the pattern continued and my business grew and grew. Each person having his or her own experience, getting specifically what he or she needed. Most people coming to me with the thought that yoga probably isn’t for them.
There’s a way for all of us to feel better no matter what our perceived qualifiers are. The key to making magic happen on and off the mat is… the Koshas.
Yoga says that we have five Koshas, or veils, that block us from our divine essence.
I like to say:
We have five defined access points to our clearest self.
The Koshas are pictured as concentric circles from the center of the body out. They are presented in this order:
The bliss body (Anandamaya Kosha)
The discriminant body or witness consciousness (Vijnanamaya Kosha)
The mental body (Manomaya Kosha)
The energy body (Pranamaya Kosha)
The physical/food body (Annamaya Kosha)
Accessing any one Kosha will affect all the others. However, transformative moments happen when multiple Koshas are engaged.
In science this is known as the synergistic effect.
In yoga classes we ask you to move your body, which inevitably increases flexibility, strength, circulation, and all the good neurotransmitters (physical body). We ask you to access your breath, affecting the nervous system, hormones, and energy levels (energy body). We ask you to observe your thoughts (witness consciousness), and then choose your thoughts or set an intention (mental body). When you enter the zone during class or in Savasana, you’re experiencing the bliss body.
Any one of these is fine, but together there tends to be more of a release as well as an expanded and extended sense of calm and clarity.
Have you ever teared up in a class for no explicable reason? Have you had a moment of clarity or emotional release while stretching, breathing, and observing your thoughts? Have you ever felt elevated and content as you rise from Savasana? Have you experienced extended calm and clarity post-class?
These are simply examples of what happens when the veils (Koshas) are lifted. It’s not woo-woo. The physiological and energetic effect of tapping into multiple systems to purposely release and rewire into a life where you have more agency, courage, and equanimity is quantifiable.
Accessing all five Koshas yields the highest return, on or off the mat.
Let me give you an off-the-mat example.
Do you recall the best meal you’ve ever had? I’m guessing you took time to really taste your food (physical body), engage in great conversation (mental body), breathe between bites (energy body), laugh (bliss body), and if you were fortunate enough, you paused and took a mental snapshot of the moment and felt the gratitude seep in (witness consciousness). Throughout the night, you felt fully alive. You were accessing all five Koshas.
When union (yoga) of the Koshas has been achieved, our relationships improve. Our ability to stay calm, reflect, step forward with courage, speak our truth, consciously navigate hard times, get clear, and step into our highest form are all possible.
We often isolate and rush. This asks you to integrate and slow down
So, whether you’re with your kids, playing golf, traveling, or making a presentation, it’s worth asking yourself, “Am I accessing all five Koshas? Am I yielding the highest return, or am I only half in?”
I make sure all of my sessions, my teachings, and my trainings access all five points. It’s a non-negotiable, and it makes the difference.
What part of your life feels a bit flat? Use the Koshas to approach it in a new way. It’s not a dogmatic religious practice; it’s experiential, reflective, individual, and super practical. Plus… magic tends to happen!
Tools of Gold for the Embodied Feminine is my newest program that I’m thrilled to share with you. I designed it with all five of the Koshas in mind. These days will feel like mini-retreats for my New England friends who desire sisterhood, transformation, and nourishment while also wanting to stay close to home. You will have connections, releases, and revelatory moments that will seep into all aspects of your life. Here’s to clarity and feeling fully alive!
If you don’t live close but want to be a part of the course, reply to this email and I’ll give you the details. I’m leaving five spots open for virtual participation.
Karen Kenney is coming up. She understands how to approach a human being to create the biggest impact in the shortest period of time. She made me laugh, cry, think, move, and feel. I remember every detail of her story and the processes of letting go that she taught. Her power was unforgettable, which is why I invited her to present for Leverage Events. Check her out here.