Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Taste of Kosha

In yoga philosophy there are 5 koshas, or sheaths.  The Mind Body Green has a good description of these:
The koshas are energetic layers or sheaths that move from the outermost layer of skin to the deep spiritual core. The koshas provide a framework for conceptualizing ourselves. Much like the chakra system, the kosha layers come packaged with their own individual physiological function and psychology. In some respects, the kosha layers mirror the psychology of the chakras
The five koshas are:
1. Annamaya kosha - physical body
2. Pranamaya kosha - subtle body or energetic body
3. Manomaya kosha - emotions, deeper in the mind
4. Vijanamaya kosha - wisdom, awareness, or deeper desires and motivations
5. Anandamaya kosha - transcendence, bliss, connection to all things

These layers provide a framework for us to think about how we interact with the word.  When we practice asana, we become keenly aware of our physical and energetic koshas and sometimes our emotions.  When we spend time with loved ones, go for a peaceful walk on a nice day or experience gratitude we often feel the interaction in deeper layers beyond emotions -- that sensation we get when we feel connected to others or to nature.  I'm particularly interested in how these layers affect health and our understanding of the science of food and nutrition.
If we look at the interaction we have with food, we can start with the five sense: seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, and hearing.  Culinary instructors have taught me that we definitely "taste" with our eyes first and then with our nose even before food enters our mouth.  Then we get the sensation of taste on the tongue which, of course, correspond to the five tastes.  How we hear food may not be so obvious, but after reading Michael Moss' book, it's clear that the sound of produced by our teach plays an important role.  Think of the irresistible crunch of crispy food, for example, and how satisfying they can be.  We definitely hear food too.
Similarly, we can make direct connections between consuming food and the first kosha, which is sometimes called the food body.  Food also gives us energy, carbohydrates and sugars provide fuel for both the mind and the body.  There is a ton of research on the emotional connection we have with food.  The unconscious connection to food choice is illustrated brilliantly in in the work of Doug Lisle's Pleasure Trap -- interesting, that there are also 5 phases here :-)

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