Yoga: A Whole Health Approach

No matter where you look there’s a new fashion on how to live your life. One thing is certain – people want to live better, happier, healthier lives. Yoga is not new, it’s been around for over 5000 years. If you’ve checked out our last few blog posts you’ll know that yoga is more than just a way to stretch and/or add  body weight exercises into your daily life. We touched on how important breathing is to your overall well being, as well as a few ways to introduce meditation and mindfulness into your lives. These practices can help us find balance in all areas of life: physical, psycho, social, and spiritual. In yoga we have a model for this: the pancha kosha.

I know, I know. Weird Sanskrit words you will not remember, and that’s totally fine. The main point of this is to introduce the model. Pancha – meaning 5, and Kosha – meaning sheath. This is the 5 sheath model. The 5 sheaths are also referred to as “bodies” as well. Over the next 5 months we’ll address each one of these sheaths with a little more detail, but for today we’ll do a quick introduction. 

The first sheath (or body) is the physical body, literally the thing you’re moving about in and reading this blog post with. This is seen as the sheath closest to the body, and from here we move outward.

The second sheath is the energetic body. Think of it as your heart rate, breathing, energy level, blood pressure. Many of these can be measured by a value over time, but not all are measurable with precision.

The third sheath is the mental/emotional body. Think of it as anything that comes in from the head. Maybe it’s a thought, or just a feeling, or a state of mind.

Moving outward to the fourth sheath we step into our discernment. This can be seen in a few forms but simply it’s your connection to yourself and others.

Lastly, we have our fifth sheath: the bliss body. What is it that brings you pure joy?   Where is that pure joy within you?

This is just an introduction to the panchakosha model of whole health.   When we can find health in all of these “bodies,” we can live our best lives. Each body can be looked at individually and together, and the practices that yoga offers can help us find balance in each of the sheaths. 

Stay tuned over the next few months to learn more about each of these koshas (sheaths) and how you can find more wellness in each of these bodies in your life.

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