Posted by on October 29, 2016 in Blog | Comments Off on UNDERSTANDING YOGIC ANATOMY


The term anatomy in common language is the science that deals with the human body. In the science of Yoga however, anatomy covers much more than just this body. The Yogic anatomy divides an individual into five sheaths or layers: body, breath, mind, wisdom and soul. These 5 layers are arranged in order from gross to subtle; the body being the grossest and the soul the subtlest. Gross things are those that can be touched, seen clearly, have mass etc. while the subtle things can only be felt and experienced.

Another important point to note about these layers is that the subtler they get, the vaster their field will be. For instance, the field of the human body is very limited, it has 206 bones, 78 organs (countable) and a very limited structure. Compared to this the human mind, though it cannot be seen or touched, is enormous and can absorb and contain vast information. A direct implication of the limitation of the gross and the vastness of the subtle is that the subtler layers pervade the grosser ones. Again for instance, the breath pervades this body, the mind pervades both the body and the breath and so on. So basically, Yogic anatomy involves studying and analyzing all five layers that exist in an individual.

Out of these 5 sheaths, the layers of body, breath and mind constitute Prakruti while the soul and the wisdom are the Purusha. What is Purusha and what is Prakruti ? Purusha represents consciousness, the experiencer, the ultimate containing everything and eternally present. Prakruti manifests from the Purusha; there cannot be Prakruti without Purusha. Prakruti is the Nature – that can be experienced, it changes continuously and perishes. So to classify anything as Prakruti we can simply do this test; if something changes with time, it is definitely Prakruti. This is why our body, breath and mind have been classified as Prakruti. We need no proof that our bodies change. How about our breath? It changes too, sometimes it is fast, sometimes slow, sometimes deep, sometimes jerky. And the mind? The mind is also changing continuously with thoughts arising and vanishing continuously! The wisdom and the Soul are the Purusha in an individual, they thus remain unchanged, untouched and always in bliss. For this creation to exist and function both Purusha and Prakruti are required.

As we live this life, we get so caught up in the creation that we begin to lose awareness and start to completely identify ourselves with the Prakruti part of us. The result? We become very limited and egoistic, identifying ourselves as different from the rest. And we begin to think that we will perish too. These limited patterns create blockages in our body, breath and mind. Yoga is an effective solution for this as it clears the imprints that exist on our body, breath and mind with the application of Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing techniques) and Meditation respectively. The approach is to re-establish our connection with the soul and the wisdom and with awareness to clear the blockages that exist because ultimately we are that consciousness, we are that which is the cause of all manifestation and neither can we take birth nor can we perish! The realization of this fact can free us from all our bondages and suffering.


Blog written by Navya

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