Yoga for kids can be geared to teach them the meaning of yoga but with lightness, lots of levity and tons of exploration. Recently, I have been thinking of how to teach the koshas to kids. I have found that studying and teaching Esoteric Anatomy (your energetic anatomy)informs my practice and teaching in a beneficial way. The study of the subtle body’s energies and structures supports my desire to focus inwards. Focusing on the energy inside your body is a great way to notice tensions, relaxation, and a great way to focus inside rather than just externally. I love feeling that the inside of me is just as powerful means for change as the outside.
In yoga, you can describe the functions of the perceptible (corporal) body and you can also describe the functions of the subtle (implied) body. The subtle anatomy of the humans is divided into five energetic sheaths known as ‘pancha kosha’. Pancha, meaning five and kosha, meaning layer or sheath. To explain these layers, I got out my Winnie The Pooh nesting doll-which by luck has exactly 5 layers. The outermost layer is Pooh, then Tigger, Eeyore, Owl and finally Piglet.
- (Winnie the Pooh Body) Annamaya Kosha (Food Sheath/Physical Body)– This describes the physical body composed from the five elements but mainly from food and water. With this layer you experience awareness of sensation. Imbalance can be experienced by: muscle tension, too much or too little body weight, obsession with appearance. To balance: Eat a simple diet, rich in organic foods and unprocessed food and do twists.
- (Tigger Body) Pranamaya Kosha (Pranic or Energy Sheath)-The Pranic or Energy Sheath, comprises the prana vayus*, nadis** and the chakras***. Prana, the vital breath which man lives by, is the bridge between the gross and subtle bodies as well as between the other koshas. Imbalance: nervous stress, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, ADHD, exhaustion. Balance: pranayama, foreword bends for anxiety, backbends for depression.
- (Eeyore Body) Manomaya Kosha (Mental or psycho-emotional Sheath)– Consists of thoughts and emotions. Expressed by ego and personality. Imbalance: fear, vengefulness, clinging attachment, mental illness. Balance: visualization, meditation, mantra chanting, inversions.
- (Owl Body) Vijnyanamaya Kosha (Intellectual Sheath)– Governs intuition. Created by instinct. Imbalance: lack of trust, arrogance, lack of empathy, malcontent. Balance: walking and sitting meditations, solitude, spiritual study, and headstand.
- (Piglet Body) Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Sheath)– The ‘bliss sheath’ is the seat of the inner essence or self and is where we metabolize our experience of Samadhi or a higher level of concentrated meditation. The mind is said to rest in its intrinsic natural state which is pure bliss. In reality (or spiritually) there are no imbalances at this level as the mind is free from ‘chitta vrittis’ or mental confusions and distractions; yet…Imbalance: ungrounded, unfocused, suicidal thoughts. Balance: use all strategies.