Pancha Maya Kosha: Five Layers to Wholeness

Written by JENNIFER REIS – Jennifer is an E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist IAYT, Kripalu School of Yoga and Integrative Yoga Therapy faculty, LMT, Ayurveda and Shiatsu therapist, Bachelor of Fine Arts. Jennifer will host a 50 hour Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra Teacher Training this November. Looking to find out more or register for training? Email the studio at or click here to register.

The Five Koshas are one of the basic models from yoga philosophy that I have found incredibly helpful for understanding both myself and others. With practice, its helped me to get to know myself better, reduced my suffering, and helped me to live my life more fully!

This simple map outlines the layers that make up human beings. From the ancient scriptures of the Upanishads,  these are the five Koshic layers of being that make you who you are:

  • Physical
  • Energy/Breath
  • Mind/Emotions
  • Witness/Wisdom
  • Bliss/Healing
  • (Beyond the Koshas: Light)

The kosha model illustrates a person as multi-dimensional with our source and foundation being the spiritual dimension. We can use this model to address each level of a person individually, and also as an integrated whole. When you feel all parts of who you truly are, then you feel in touch with yourself, your truths, and your heart, able to live with authenticity and potency.

The multi-dimensional model of the koshas is an ideal framework for the theory and practice of Divine Sleep®Yoga Nidra which involves the whole person in the healing and awakening process. In our modern era, almost any lying down guided meditation is referred to as ‘yoga nidra’. While all ‘yoga nidras’ may have some similarities and unique differences, not all yoga nidras are in fact based on the koshas.

Divine Sleep®Yoga Nidra specifically guides you through the Five Koshas in order to help you to get in touch with your whole Self. You can LISTEN AND PRACTICE HERE with a complete Divine Sleep®journey.

In this practice, each level is a doorway that opens you into the next level of being/kosha. As you feel each level, they being to drop into the background to uncover your inner Bliss and Healing, as well as your true Self. In this state of connection within all of your multi-dimensional layers, potent transformation can occur. A state of Wholeness can be felt and recognized.

‘Pancha’ means five. ‘Maya’ translates as  – veil, covering, appearance, power of creation, magical power, mystery – and also – to consist, or pervade. ‘Kosha’ means – sheath, cover, subtle body, treasure, lexicon, and is derived from the root ‘kus’ which means – to enfold. The “maya” of the kosha is experienced both as unreal and as the beautiful manifestation of universal unity. ‘Maya kosha’ refers to layers of enfolding sheaths that cover our True Self.

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