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UNDERSTANDING OUR PANCHA KOSHA

A Report on the Summer Intensive 2014 Classes at YOGNAT


Every year, the young ones of Pondicherry look forward to the advent of summer when they
get their academic holidays and more importantly an opportunity to further their yoga and
dance abilities through the May Intensive classes at Yoganjali Natyalayam (YOGNAT). This
has been the pattern for the past 20 years and this year was no exception. More than 120
youngsters took part in Shlokam chanting, Yoga theory and practical sessions as well as
Bharatanatyam classes conducted under the direction of AMMAJI, Yogacharini Meenakshi
Devi Bhavanani. Dr Ananda led the a special programme focusing on the theoretical and
practical applications of Pancha Kosha (the five aspects of our existence) as well as special
Bharatanatyam lessons imparting skill, stamina and new compositions in collaboration with
Yogacharini Devasena Bhavanani. The intensive began on the 5
th
of May with traditional
Puja to our Guru Yogamaharishi Dr Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj. Every day the
classes started at 2.45pm with Ammaji leading the students through 108 sacred names of
the Guru Parampara followed by the chanting classes led by Yogachemmal Smt Meena
Ramanathan who guided them through Srimad Bhagavadpada Adi Shakaras
Achchutashtakam that consists of eight verses in praise of Lord Krishna and Rama.
Dr. Ananda then guided the young ones through an exploration of the Pancha Kosha the
Five Spiritual Potentialities of human life. This beautiful ancient concept of actualizing
human potential deals with the Annamaya Kosha (a strong, healthy conscious body),
Pranayama Kosha (a vibrant, lively energy field), Manomaya Kosha (a focused, alert
consciousness), Vijanamaya Kosha (effective use of prefrontal lobes of the human brain
the seat of wisdom, discrimination and rational thinking) and Anandamaya Kosha (centering
the individual in the cosmic structure). These high concepts were presented in a digestible
form with lots of fun and humour filled moments that were thoroughly enjoyed by all the
kids. The theory covered in the course included Pancha Koshas and Trisharira, Pancha Maha
Bhutas, Sapta Dhatus, Tridoshas and Trigunas, Prana Nadis, Prana Vayus, Jnanendriyas and
Karmendriyas, Chitta Bhumi, Bindus, Chakras and the integration of Raja, Karma, Jnana and
Bhakti Yoga in our human existence. The practices taught in the month in an integrated
manner included Hasta and Pada Jathis ,Tala and Hasta Kona Kriyas, Shiva Surya Namaskar,
Padottana Kriya and Asana, Hakara Kriya, Malla Kriya and Toppukaranam Super brain
Yoga, Vajra-Veera Vajra with Mudras, Pachimottana-Purvottana Asanas, Pada Uttana and
Pawan Mukta series, Baddha Padma- Yoga Mudra Asana, Vyagraha pranayama, Pranava
Pranayama, Brahma Mudra, Trataka and Chakrshu Drishti (Moola, Nabhi, Kanta, Nasagra,
Brumadhya, Bindu Nadi and Trikuti Bindus) as well as Spanda-nishpanda and Kaya Kriya.
The much awaited 3-day residential camp was held at ICYER from 16-18
th
of May and
attended by 40 students and teachers. The regular Ananda Ashram schedule was observed
with all rising at 5am and having a full day of classes on the beach and in the Ashram
premises. Many team events of the Swami Gitananda Youth and Child Award competitions
were conducted including the Yoga quiz, Yoga dumb charades and team Yogasana
competition. Many fun filled moments were had by all as the children enjoyed the waves,
the sun and the sands to their hearts content. The bonfire on the beach was another gala
evening with fun and frolic and much singing as all enjoyed their popcorn too. Shantis and
Chiras cooking always captivates the taste buds of our young ones and this time was no
exception as each and every child enjoyed the tasty and healthy ashram food.
The valedictory function for the intensive was held on June 1
st
at Yoganjali Natyalayam and
the children showcased their skills for the dignitaries who included Thiru V Sivashanmugam
(Retired Deputy Secretary, Govt of Pondicherry), Pulavar I Pattabiramanar, Dr N Ardhanari,
Dr Vanaja Vaidyanathan, Shri CK Manoharun, Smt Mangala Gowri and others. Selvi
YUVARANI was adjudged the BEST STUDENT OF THE INTENSIVE while DHIVYA PRIYA and
ANANDRAJ BHAVANANI topped the prizes for most points garnered with Vidyashankari and
Pratheebha bagging second and Pragathi and Nirmal received third prizes in senior and
junior categories of the intensive. More than 30 students also received special prizes for
their 100% attendance without missing a single class.
A special Pancha Kosha song was composed by Dr Ananda and choreographed into a dance
that was taught to the young ones. The song Anandamey paramanandamey teaches us
that bliss manifests when all the five Koshas are integrated. This helps us to understand the
body through Annamaya, emotions through Pranayamaya, control thoughts through
Manomaya and finally attain the integration of all three powers of intelligence in
Vijnanamaya. We finally then can realize the vast universe within us in Anandamaya!










When you can do your work with love, passion and motivation producing happiness not only
for yourself but for others too - then you are truly blessed in your life! We at YOGNAT are
tremendously blessed by our Gurus, for, we are ever busy doing stuff that we love and
enjoy. This also gives us the chance to constantly evolve ourselves on the path to liberation,
the goal of human existence. Work is worship said our illustrious Guru Yogamaharishi Dr
Swami Gitananda Giri Guru Maharaj and he makes sure we are busy worshiping the Divine a
lot for he keeps us ever busy with newer plans every day. We at YOGNAT are truly blessed
to be Sishyas of such a visionary founder and are constantly motivated towards excellence
by our dynamic director and Guru, Puduvai Shakti, Ammaji, Kalaimamani Yogacharini
Meenakshi Devi Bhavanani.
Excerpts from one of Dr Anandas classes
Anything with a form/structure is a body represented by the Annamaya Kosha and when it
functions, it is as if it has a Pranamaya Kosha. It is like a fan that has a structure, but only
runs when electricity flows through it. Prana enables the structure to function. It gives the
Shakti to do the activities as per the capacity of the structure. The physical heart is a part of
the Annamaya and when the Prana flows, it beats because the Annamaya and Pranamaya
are working in unison. But when we are human, there needs to be something more in
addition to a basic structure and its functionality. That is MIND, the Manas that makes us a
Manushya, Manithan, Maanav or human being. This is the potential of the Manomaya
Kosha.
An ability to know and respond to the surroundings accordingly is the lower part of the mind,
something that is found even in animals. They respond or rather react to heat/cold,
pain/pleasure, hunger, thirst, sound, sight etc. This is a typical reptilian, old brain response to
stimuli that is part of us for millions of years. It is deeply ingrained in us too. That is why the
four hungers are common to all living beings, desiring food, water, sleep and sex. What
distinguishes them for us? What makes us a human/man/woman? It is Manas, the higher
aspect of the Manomaya Kosha. This enables us to respond rather than react.
The Annamaya kosha is the physical potential that we have as a human being. How much
can we do? How far can we stretch? How much endurance/ strength/ flexibility do we have?
But the actual potential is always much more than what we manifest. We are constantly
growing, always a work in progress. All the physical practices we do in Yoga, enable this
potential to manifest exponentially as best as possible within our limitations. We keep
pushing our physical limits, breaking new barriers with each moment of our conscious life.
Annamaya Kosha is made up of the Sapta Dhatus, the seven important component tissues
providing the framework for our lives. Asthi is the bone tissue, the structural framework given
by the skeleton, the joints and their interactions. The physical practices enable us to
maintain skeletal health and to sustain a free mobility. That which is not used, is lost says
the law of atrophy and this is very much applicable here. Maamsa refers to the muscle
tissues/ flesh that give shape to the body and bestow movement potential. Remember the
movements will only occur when Prana comes into the equation. We increase this physical
potential for work with the yoga
practices, utilising it at the
appropriate time in an appropriate
manner. The muscles have the
potential for internal and external
movement and may be either
voluntary or involuntary in action.
With conscious effort, we build up
this potential and enable our free
mobility throughout life. This
enables us to expand our
capacities, while preventing
imbalance between groups of
opposing muscles that otherwise
result in tremors.
Rakta refers to the blood cells that are a
part of our connective tissues providing
immunity, oxygen carrying capacity, and
hemostatic abilities etc. Rasa is the fluid
component of the circulatory system and
may be taken to be the plasma as well as
the lymphatics. This is vital to maintain
tissue perfusion and a normal blood
pressure. Majja is the bone marrow, the
seat where blood cells are formed in the
centre of the long bones. This makes sure
that the Rakta components are
maintained at a healthy level. Meda is the
adipose tissue and fat component of the
body. It provides insulation, thus helping
in our resistance to cold environments. It
also provides a stored source of energy, a
safety locker source that can be utilised
in the event of starvation and food deprivation. It is also found in the human brain (remember
the human brain has upto 60% fat) and in the blood as various lipoproteins such as LDL,
HDL etc. Sukra refers to the endocrine hormones, enzymes and other neuro transmitters
and more specifically to the seminal fluids that are referred to as Ojas. The transmutation of
Ojas to Tejas is one of the major roles played by some of the Mudras that are grouped
together in the Gitananda tradition under the term, Oli Mudras or Shakti Mudras.
The Tridoshas, the three humours of the human body are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Kapha
stays in one place with limited/no movement whereas Vata helps movement. Pitta enables
movement from gross to subtle through transformation as when water evaporates into
steam. Water as ice may be described as Kapha, in liquid form as Pitta and in vapour form
as Vata. Kapha is the component that holds things together, the glue that binds. It is the
cohesive element, a combination of water and earth that is represented by mucous in the
lungs, the stomach, joint fluid etc. Pitta is the fire of metabolism, the fire of digestion
represented by the bile that is pushed from the gall bladder into the 2nd part of the
duodenum through the biliary duct. Vata is the wind element that enables body movement to
occur in the joints, and internal movements to occur in the nervous and circulatory systems
as they move energy throughout the body. It is important that all three exist in a proper
proportion for health as otherwise disorders manifest. Tiruvalluvar the great Dravidian saint
says, Miginum kuraiyinum noi seyyum noolor valimudhalaa enniya moondru (941) - If the
three are in excess or deficient, then they cause disease in our body. Yoga enhances the
qualities of strength, endurance and felxibilty in the Annamaya Kosha by balancing the
Tridoshas. The dynamic practices burn up the Kapha while the relaxation and cooling
practices soften the Pitta. Balancing on different body points (tailbone, feet, hands, shoulder,
head) and stability inducing techniques create a sense of grounding to harmonise Vata.


THE FIVE SHEATHS
Taittiriya Upanishad
Paraphrased- simplified- abridged by R.R.Diwakar
[The spirit is, as it were, encased in five sheaths (koshas), one within the other. We first
come across the gross material sheath, and then go deeper to more subtle sheaths, the last
being the sheath of joy or bliss. This teaching occurs in the Taittiriya Upanishad and forms
the subject of a conversation between Varuna and his son.]
Bhrgu was the son of Varuna. He once approached his father and said: Father, impart to
me the spiritual knowledge you possess.
The father said, "Matter, vital airs, eyes, ears, mind, and speech are the things that you
daily come across. You must now know that Reality from which all these things issue and
live, towards which all these move and in which they finally merge. That is the Brahman. You
can know him by tapas or concentration and meditation.
The son obeyed the father and after some meditation came to the conclusion that gross
matter itself is the Brahman. He went and told his father so. But the father was not at all
satisfied with his sons findings and he exhorted him to go again and perform more tapas.
Meditation alone will give you real insight, said the father.
Then the son went away and began to meditate further.
Next he realized that Prana or the vital power was Brahman and that it was out of Prana
that things took their birth and into Prana they finally merged. Prana indeed is the life giving
principle.
But that too was not a satisfactory conclusion. His father asked him to go into meditation
again. He then found that the mind or the psychic plane was the thing from which all
manifestation emerged and merged again into it at the end. It was subtler than gross matter
and prana and could pervade both of them.
He reported this experience to his father. But the father sent him back again with the old
advice to perform more tapas.
Bhrgu again meditated and found that the power of understanding (vijnana) was the thing
from which all things issued and towards which all things moved. But the father was not
satisfied and repeated his advice to his son.
The son again meditated and finally came to the conclusion that bliss or pure joy was
Brahman (Supreme Spirit)- the source and the goal of all creation. All the beings are verily
born in bliss, they exist by the power of bliss, and they all move towards bliss and into bliss
they all merge in the end.
When Bhrgu told his father about this conclusion of his, he was overjoyed and said, Dear
child, this indeed is the highest term of existence. All these five sheaths are there, one more
subtle than the other, but the finest and the subtlest is bliss eternal. These are not mutually
exclusive. They are inter-penetrating. But the basis of all is bliss, the bliss of Brahman, pure
spiritual happiness. He who knows this and realizes it goes beyond all sorrow and death.
This is known as the Bhargavi Varuni Vidya.