Holistic approach of Yoga

By Anandhi Venkateshan, Yoga teacher & Therapist
Published May 09, 2023

What is the holistic approach of yoga

Yoga is not only limited to asanas! It is a combination of the practice of Asanas and Pranayama. Interestingly, the practice of Yoga extends beyond physical movement and breathwork. The theory i.e. principles of yoga mentioned in ancient texts elucidate a thoughtful and detailed perspective on life.  It is really amazing that so much was known to our ancestors. We should take advantage of the treasure trove of information they have shared with us! 

Panchamaya Model 

This holistic approach of yoga has been beautifully described in the Panchamaya Model of Yoga. This model describes 5 interconnected “Koshas”, that is, layers or sheaths within all of us. Yoga philosophers believe that the human body is multidimensional. It is much more than just the physical body and so has more needs than  physical needs.

Five Koshas in the human body-

  1. The first layer or "kosha" is Annamaya kosha which means the physical body. This is the layer that we can actually touch and feel. It deals with our body and its relationship with the outside world. This layer is the starting point of our experience with yoga. Yoga helps us to nourish this layer for us to have energy and to stay fit using the yoga tool of the Asanas.
  2. The second layer or kosha is "Pranamaya kosha", or energy body which is concerned with the physiological functions like the bodily functions, stress and sleep. These functions are affected by the flow of "prana" along the body. Our breath is considered the physical expression of prana. Yoga helps us to balance this flow of prana through the tools of Pranayama and breath centered Asanas.

  1. The third layer or kosha is “Manomaya kosha”, or the emotional body, or the mind. The intellectual mind has tremendous power to influence the entire system and functions of the body. Once it is educated through tools like chanting and text study, it is able to acquire knowledge, make choices, direct and maintain attention to interact with the outside world.
  2. The fourth layer or kosha is "Vignanamaya kosha" or wisdom body, which deals with our personality. Our personality is not just based on our inherent tendencies but also keeps developing throughout our life based on the experiences we face and also has great potential for transformation. With the tools of yoga of meditation and self reflection, we can build our personality and condition our mind too.
  3. The fifth layer or kosha is "Anandamaya kosha" or bliss body, or the emotional layer. It is the layer through which we can achieve happiness, joy and fulfillment by connecting to everyone around us through yoga tools like ritual and prayer.

Our layers are connected!

Yoga is holistic in nature. Regular yoga practice will help keep all layers intact and increase your stamina, improve your deeper physiological functions as well as your immunity levels. Consistent practice can change the patterns of mind that are translated into the body as each individual experiences the posture in a different way. It will positively influence your personality, steady your mind and take you towards joy and fulfillment. Integrating breathing will energize and relax the body. This connection between the body, breath and mind increases the joy of practice and in turn helps us sustain the practice of yoga regularly.

Asanas and Metabolism

Asanas like urdhva prasarita padasana, apanasana, dwipadapitam, jatara parivritti etc strengthen the abdominal organs, uterus, back and legs and they also increase your metabolism.

A holistic yoga practice creates “navasarira samskara” or the reconditioning of the body, and “sarira samyama” or balance and alignment of the body. Both these enable you to understand your body, help us make away with the old patterns and habits and help you experience a new you. When you experience an asana with the 5 layers integrated you experience stillness in posture with your mind absorbed in the experience with the body. This helps you to be present in the moment, stay calm and experience mindfulness.

The practice of yoga, if started under the guidance of a teacher, can help you to not only understand, but also implement these principles in your daily practice. Yoga is a way of not just a physical experience. A certified yoga therapist can help you to aid in the discovery of the interconnections between these koshas. This can help you to address your needs through your yoga practice and eventually progress towards self practice.

At Elda, we understand the purpose behind Yoga philosophies and why integrating them into our lives is nourishment for the mind and the body. We have certified trainers that can guide you through your practice and help you reap all the benefits yoga can offer. Download the Elda App and contact your care manager now!