The koshas as a model of self-care

One of the many things I enjoy about my work as a health educator is expanding knowledge about self-care. When teaching, I often joke that my students will get angry with me when they learn that I’m not just going to tell them to go to the spa. While many definitions exist, the self-care I advocate for takes a holistic approach, and often involves doing some of the “stickier” work of examining how aligned our daily actions and choices are with our goals, values and ideals.

If you are a follower of the blog, you may have noticed that I often go to my background in yoga studies for self-care strategies. The yoga tradition views each dimension of the human being as one layer of the whole. The yogic model of the koshas serves as a self-care map to take care of our physical, energetic, phycho-emotional, wisdom, and bliss bodies.

Kosha can be translated as “sheath” or “layer”. These layers work in two ways: they allow us to express our inner self, and they cushion the inner self from the challenges of the outer world. There are five koshas, which we will explore individually over the next five weeks. While we separate them for the purpose of study, they are all intertwined.

We will explore them from the outermost layer inward. The health of each kosha affects the other both from the subtle to gross layers and in the opposite direction as well.

Tune in next week as we turn our attention to the outermost layer, the Annamaya kosha.