The Yoga Tradition provides many answers to the question Who Are You? One is the model of the 5 koshas. This is a particularly useful model for Hatha Yogis because it deepens the physical practice.
Kosha translates to "sheath" or covering. Think of these like layers of an onion or stacked Russian dolls and each one takes you deeper into your self.
1. Annamaya Kosha - the sheath of materiality, "food", the physical body. This is the layer we most easily and consistently identify with. It’s easy to see and feel, but difficult to change.
2. Pranamaya Kosha - the layer of prana. This is the animating force of the body, the vital energy that causes your heart to beat, food to digest, and neurons to fire. Yoga even has a whole science dedicated to engaging and improving the flow of prana within our body - Pranayama. This is the interface between the body-mind.
3. Manomaya Kosha – the layer of “mana” or mind. This is the sensory-processing and emotional response covering. Without awareness, this part of the mind is very conditioned and highly reactionary which makes it vulnerable to outside influences.
4. Vijanamaya Kosha - layer of wisdom, intellect or "buddhi". This covering is associated with higher intelligence and witness-consciousness. This is often an unexpected bonus of yoga practice because when activated this layer illuminates the reactionary mind. As you become more established in wisdom, your life (and your mind) feels more manageable. You gain greater access to your free will and the power of discernment.
5. Anandamaya Kosha- layer of bliss. This is the abode of great saints and sages. The poetry of Rumi chronicles his experiences here. It's the ground of being and your essence nature. It’s like the treasure locked deep inside. The practice guides you in the direction of this part of yourself. You may get occasional glimpses and every once in a while a big gulp. Over time, with dedicated practice, you remove what keeps you from experiencing this truth consistently.