Most of us wake up, brew coffee, saunter to our car, drink coffee, drink more coffee, eat something cheap and fast for lunch, drink more coffee, finish work, drive home, wait in traffic, become frustrated, finally get home, eat something cheap and fast for dinner, watch television, and go to bed. Every.Single.Day. We are putting our bodies and minds under constant stress by refusing to deviate away from our humdrum, static lifestyles. We begin to throw off our natural equilibrium, which puts our health and wellness at stake. As time goes on, illnesses and chemical imbalances start to set in, and instead of finding the root cause of why our bodies are breaking down, we settle for pain killers and mood stabilizers to make us “feel better.” Sound familiar?? How about we recognize that we are killing ourselves and try to take some control over our health and well-being?
Yoga therapy is a form of integrative medicine that combines holistic and modern approaches to healing, by first discovering the source of the problem. Reestablishing the balance and communication between mind, body, and spirit is a foundation in yoga therapy.
Getting to the Root of Yoga Therapy
The word Yoga is a derivative of the Sanskrit word yug, which means to “to bind closely,” “join,” “concentrate,” and “to bring under yoke.” This unity is based off of one’s own web of homeostasis, binding mind, body, and soul, and the “individual self, uniting with Cosmic Consciousness or the Universal Spirit” (MedIndia).
Scholars and archaeologists have been striving for over a century to pinpoint the detailed origin of yoga. Soapstone seals with yogi-like depictions were unearthed in the 1920s in the ruins of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, where the largest society in early antiquity, the Indus civilization, flourished. These carvings are dated back to 3000 B.C.E., hence the revolutionary discovery that Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago. By way of the Vedas, Hindus brought yoga to modern times, where it is now being practiced by over 20 million Americans.
The Koshas: The intertwining layers that make up our physical, mental, and spiritual self
Beginning with the outermost layer, we find our way to the Atman, or true self, by moving through and beyond each kosha.
Annamaya kosha- Physical: This is the “food” sheath. This layer is how we could describe the visible, or physical, appearance of our entity. It is made up of our integumentary, skeletal, muscular system, and other organs that provide our corporeal makeup. We must nurture this outmost layer of ourselves and explore it during meditation and train ourselves to go move inward toward our True Self.
Pranamaya kosha- Energy: This is the “breath” sheath. The elusive ambiances relating to breath is the driving force that allows our body to operate. By way of energy channels (nadis) in our body, this kosha allows our inner self to function in the physical world, or the external world, giving our still consciousness the appearance of a moving human body. It is important to train and regulate the Pranamaya kosha in order for this level to flow efficiently.
Manamaya kosha- Mental: The “lower mind.” Within this level, we process our dynamic emotions and feelings. It directs the thoughts that are created by our physical senses. It is not in control processing deeper awareness, and thus it can create illusions and qualms. It receives instruction from deeper levels, and its ability to function is dulled if it is clouded by illusions from the Mental kosha.
Vijnanamaya kosha-Wisdom: The “higher mind.” This level embraces higher levels of consciousness. This kosha does not just think, it is ego consciousness. It has a sense of self, giving it the power of decision, judgement, and knowledge. It maintains positive strength when it is not confused with memories and dulled by the illusions from the Mental layer.
Anandamaya kosha – Bliss: It is the innermost kosha that surrounds the Atman or the self, which is the everlasting, conscious core. It is outside of the mind, where we are separated from stimuli that cause a blissful reaction. It is a being of love, joy, and peace on its own.
Now that we understand how complex the dimensions of our existence is under yogic ideals and philosophies, it changes how we approach treatment. Without knowing the source of the illness or problem, we are limiting ourselves to partial healing. Regain homeostasis and well-being. Find out more about Integrative approaches to healing by Dr. Jorge Bordenave at http://www.miamiintegrativemedicine.com/
Bharati, Swami J. “Koshas or Sheaths of Yoga Vedanta.” SwamiJ.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://www.swamij.com/koshas.htm>.
Feuerstein, Georg. “A Short History of Yoga.” Swamijcom., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://www.swamij.com/history-yoga.htm>.
Kessler, Jody. “The 5 Koshas.” Singing Heart Yoga. N.p., 31 May 2011. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://singingheartyoga.blogspot.com/2011/05/5-koshas.html>.
“Origin of Yoga.” MedIndia. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Aug. 2013. <http://www.medindia.net/yoga-lifestyle/yoga-orgin.htm#ixzz2b5BqpMyi>.
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