What is Annamaya Kosha in Yoga
Yoga means to unite the body mind and spirit to bring a person into a healthy state of being. When we practice yoga using the Koshas as a foundation then we directly and indirectly begin to clear our body of toxins, the mind of past and present mental difficulties then it brings us a little closer to understanding the nature of mind and spirit.
The meaning of koshas directly translates into English as meaning sheath and the first sheath is called the Anna Maya Kosha. Anna means food, Maya means composed of, so the Anna Maya Kosha is composed of food which we take from our Mother, the earth. If we nourish this Kosha then our experience of life becomes dramatically enhanced and so all of the systems of the body become balanced, where as if we just feed the body with toxins then all of the systems of the body become out of sync and our experience changes completely.
When we start the practice of yoga then we usually start with the body as this is the vehicle of our experience and if we are not very experienced at driving it, then we have many Ashtanga Yoga Postures to learn that allow us to drop our awareness into the foundation of the feet. Think about when we are in warrior posture, a warrior is solid in her stance and builds that solidness from the bottom up. In the warrior posture we would use muscle activation and release so that we can begin to train each and every fibre in the muscles and it is surprising to notice that after a few yoga classes we can suddenly increase the length of time we hold the posture for.
This might sound like basic beginners yoga knowledge but when it comes to the Anna Maya Kosha and the time we spend in class using it to enhance our experience we often spend most of our time stuck in or heads with what is coming next or the things that need to be done after class, or even when is this going to end which is a very common thought to pop into the mind. Because we can spend an awful lot of time lost in our thought processes and if the experience is intense sensation or shall we call it pain, then that moves the awareness into our heads and out of the body in a split second. We have to remember that the nature of the mind is to find pleasure and avoid pain, so if we are experiencing intense sensation then all is lost as we are doing nothing more than giving the body, mind the experience of suffering.
If we develop a relationship to our bodies that is based on kindness and compassion by giving the body a gentle experience of sensation then the mind will begin to connect with the breath and the breath will lead the mind to the sensation. The mind at this point becomes curious about the sensation and the patters of thought and thinking change into a whole body mind and spirit experience.