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The ancient Yogic tradition says that we have five bodies, or “koshas”:

  • Physical body – Annamaya kosha: This is the densest aspect of our being, and consists of a complex combination of cells, tissues, organs and systems. Pain and physical illnesses manifest on this level. The physical body can embed in itself memories that last for numerous years, preventing us from overcoming past situations. We need to learn how to relax, purify and heal.
  • Energetic body – Pranamaya kosha: Also called the bio-energetic aura. This body is made of the subtle energy of life, called Prana or Chi. It contains the life-force in our body that strongly correlates with the breath and subtle anatomy such as chakras and meridians. It nourishes the physical structure with the energy and information that is necessary for its harmonious development, which is why illnesses can be detected at this level well before they manifest at a physical level. The chakras will strongly influence our perceptions and determine the quality of our experiences in life.
  • Emotional body – Manomaya kosha: Also known as the astral body or the inferior mental body. This is the level of processing thoughts and emotions. It is frequent to have unprocessed impressions in the mind. The refinement of our emotions will allow us to experience the world in a very different way. When we sleep, we often leave the physical body and enter into the astral, however - unless trained to do so - we are usually unaware during those experiences.
  • Mental body – Vijnanamaya kosha: Also called the superior mental body. This is the intellectual aspect of the mind with the capacity for discriminating, evaluating and deciding. It does not refer to normal thinking but to the superior activity of the mind which takes place in abstract mental processes, intuitions and meditations. It enables us to establish a direct connection with inner vision and a deeper truth, reaching profound understanding.
  • Bliss body – Anandamaya kosha: This is the most subtle of the five bodies and comprises the peace, overwhelming happiness, ecstasy and pure love, which naturally resides at the centre of our being. Experiences regarding this elevated level appear in deep states of communion with the ultimate Reality. It is the last veil that covers the true “I”, (“Atman” in Sanskrit), the divine essence of any human being.