You made it! We’ve reached the fifth, and innermost layer – Anandamaya Kosha. This is the “bliss body”. It is here where the veil is finest between our individual self and the central part of us that is one with all. In this subtlest of bodies, we experience a deep connection with all beings and free ourselves from our own suffering. This layer is rarely experienced by the average yoga practitioner on a day to day basis, but it exists within us always. While we may only glimpse it in fleeting moments, it never goes anywhere and we never walk without it. The challenge here is not to build it or make it stronger, but simply to remember that it’s there.
In this layer, there is a perfect harmony between physical reality and spiritual bliss. Our small self in our physical body experiences a deep and constant embrace with the divine. Usually, this layer is experienced most clearly during or after deep meditations, in fleeting moments of divine realization. It’s as though for a moment, we’re plugged in to the shared consciousness of every being that has ever lived. It is often so unfamiliar that we might not even recognize it when it happens, and as soon as we see it, it’s long gone. It’s far from being black and white and can be realized to various degrees. But even when it is only shown to us rarely and briefly, we can see instantly that it is our identity just as much as our body, our mind or our breath.
When we are in this layer, we are filled with wisdom, deep happiness and love for all beings. We are able to forgive on any and every level and we are able to wipe away anger, sadness, and loneliness with ease and grace. We are fearless and full of courage and light. The most important thing for most of us to remember about this layer of being is simply that it exists. When we are afraid, angry, impatient, hurt, jealous, or lonely, that is when we need this inner knowing most deeply, and often when it is hardest to find. To create the circumstances for remembrance during these times, we need to focus on the nourishment of the Anamaya Kosha, Pranamaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, and Vjnanamaya Kosha. These four together create the ground from which this final layer can emerge. Without them, this layer is power without a vehicle or a purpose, unable to create change in the physical world because it has no connection to the physical plane.
All of the many practices of Yoga can be used to help us remember that this layer exists and that we are safe, held and loved. Feed the Anamaya Kosha with good food, clean water, and the natural world. Help the Pranamaya Kosha to its fill of conscious breath, movement, and light. Honor the hard labors of the Manomaya Kosha and be generous with the rest that renews it. Practice the Yamas and Niyamas to refine your moral compass and befriend Vjnanamaya Kosha as a trusted inner guide. Create a safe and sacred vessel within mind and body to receive bliss, and allow it to flow through you when it comes without attachment or longing. With all of these tools and many more, Yoga gives us everything we need to find our way.
At Vikasa, we aim to make it easy for you to nourish all of these layers within you and evolve into your greatest self. If you’re interested in joining us for a retreat or Teacher Training, we would love to welcome you to our island paradise!
About the Author
Inanna Jessup is a Yoga teacher, traveler and writer originally from Colorado. Ever since she quit her corporate job managing Yoga studios in 2017, she’s being roaming the planet searching for experience, wisdom and connection. She works remotely and enjoys the freedom and constant learning that come with her lifestyle. She believes deeply in the awareness, humility, tolerance and compassion that can be developed through the practice of yoga and meditation and through the experience of travel.