Ann Becks, a fellow yoga teacher, sat with me after class last week. She told me that when she learned about the koshas the 5 circles representing each layer were drawn with dashed lines to represent the ease of flow from one to the other. I really appreciate this addition and it makes sense to me.
The Manomaya Kosha (Manamaya Kosha) is the third layer in the Kosha model. Manas is a Sanskrit word for mind. We looked at the physical body in the Annamaya Kosha, then the energetic body in the Pranamaya Kosha and now we bring awareness to the mind.
The manomaya kosha takes in information from the senses and processes it. Our thoughts, emotions, memories, decisions and intellect are directed by the manomaya kosha.
In a yoga practice we can bring focus and clarity to the mind with meditation. Often this is done sitting in silence and stillness, while limiting distractions. In the 8 Limbs of yoga philosophy this focus inward is called pratyahara.
Using and Replenishing the Manomaya Kosha
We know that babies and children are curious about the world around them and constantly learning. This new learning stimulates the brain. Science tells us that this doesn’t end in adulthood. In fact, as adults this continued education is vital to the brain’s neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural pathways).
The capacity to learn can help to improve our yoga practice and overall wellbeing. For example, I experienced pain associated with my Sacroiliac Joint and so I learned about the anatomy of the pelvis. I now know how to keep my pelvis symmetrical. I use this understanding in my yoga practice and with daily movement.
In contrast, when we sleep, the brain regenerates. If we are not giving enough time for quiet and sleep we may start to feel imbalanced by overstimulation. Restorative yoga, savasana and meditation are some of the tools that we use to calm the nervous system and allow for rest to happen.
How the Manomaya Kosha Learns
Before humans recorded information in books, knowledge was shared through stories and songs. Ancient yogis used chanting and mantra in this way. Mantra is a tool used to focus the mind (in the 8 limbs this is dharana).
I remember my first yoga class with chanting. I felt awkward and strange singing unknown words with a room full of other people. Even when I started my 200-hour teacher training I had similar feelings towards mantra. I loved to sing, but I wanted to understand the meaning of the words and many of the chants were in Sanskrit. In yoga teacher training we began to learn the meaning of the mantras. I began to really love mantra and chanting. I studied more about sound and toning from other traditions.
Scientists continue to share the healing effects of sound. Sound vibration therapy is proven to affect the body on a cellular level – it can relax muscles, release tension, improve circulation, maximize flow of energy and alleviate pain.
Yogis believe that there are different phonetic sounds for each part of the body, including the chakras. The pitch, volume and pace that you use will also have different effects.
Chanting and mantra is one aspect of yoga. Find what suits you. Modify when you need to, just like you would a challenging yoga pose.
I would like to leave you with a few questions and a quote.
What songs are drawn to?
What lyrics do you love to sing?
What mantras are you repeating to yourself in your mind?
What emotions are evoked when you listen to certain sounds or songs?