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Viewing the Human Being Through the Lens of Yoga Therapy: Using the Panchamaya Kosha Model

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Everyday we seek simpler solutions to our issues and more efficient ways to succeed. While the appeal rests in having less of what we don’t want and getting more of what we want, why not face - and possibly embrace - the complexities that make up the nature of being human? We are multifaceted, complex, and wonderful beings capable of experiencing what is before us - and - creating what we experience!

Yoga is a science, a method for obtaining the highest level of existence known to man:

enlightenment. Yoga therapy offers the individual seeking enlightenment - whether their

enlightenment is seen as improved health, reduced pain, or greater strength - a system to

navigate their issues and direct them towards success.

There is a lens through which we can view the human being called the panchamaya kosha

model. This translates from Sanskrit into “the five embodied sheaths.”

This model demonstrates how a person’s behaviors, hopes, and environment all have

considerable influence on their state of health and well-being. Let us use an example. A client seeks yoga therapy as a means to alleviate back pain which has been caused by a herniated disc. We explore the physical body (annamaya kosha) and its influences: physical activity, diet, weight, age, and other health and genetic conditions.

Most likely we can pinpoint yoga postures and movement which directly affect the physical body and the symptomatic pain of the slipped disc.

Let’s now explore the energetic body (pranamaya kosha), including breath, sleep, and energy levels. How will this help with the physical pain and healing process? Well, breath brings our bodies the healing component of oxygen, sleep affords our bodies the space and time to heal on its own, and monitoring our daily energy levels gives us insight for choosing time to commit to our physical therapy and exercises and time to rest. And for the sake of the example, let’s choose to explore one more kosha, the cognitive body (vijnanamaya kosha), made up of our relationship with ourselves and surroundings. We are talking about the back, the support structure of our physical body.

Where in our lives do we feel supported? Do we have people we can call on to hold us up in times of need and share the journey with in times of celebration and


Believe it or not, these aspects of our lives will contribute to our overall and physical healing. Because each layer is interrelated and integrated, the holistic approach of the panchamaya kosha model uses the ripple effect to heal the symptoms and causes of suffering. This model allows for an integrative interview process, one which offers a yoga therapist insight to yogic tools which may assist the client on their journey, and more importantly serves to empower the person with a view of their own journey.

The process of healing, reaching goals, and the path to enlightenment is not a quick and simple one-and-done; it involves the acts of listening, implementing, and allowing. It is the journey itself.

Are you ready to take the journey?

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