Who am I? Can Yoga Answer this Big Question?

Ever felt unsure about who you actually are? I mean, what makes you, you? What is the real you? And what defines you?

Is it governed by your career choice? Your hair colour? Your personality? Your food choices? The clothes you wear…You catch my drift. I could go on.

In Feel Good Friday Yoga in Rugby, we are exploring just this. We are going back to vedantic philosophy – Taittiriya yoga text, 6th century BC. According to this text, there are five layers or koshas which cover the true self (or Atman). The koshas are often likened to Russian nesting dolls or the layers of an onion, with the human physical body being the outermost layer.

Starting from the outermost layer and moving through the layers to the core of the self, each body is made up of increasingly subtler degrees of energy: from the physical body, to the energetic body, to the mental body, to the wisdom body, and finally, to the bliss body.

These layers are interwoven, interrelated, and interactive—what happens on one level affects all layers of the body. According to these sages of yoga, any real answer to the question “who am I, really?” involves looking into these sheaths. The practice and philosophical application of yoga into our everyday life help bring all the koshas—body, breath, mind, wisdom, and spirit—into harmony, promoting overall health and bringing you closer to self-realisation and an absolute fullness of being.

When exploring the kosha system, we can see how all aspects of us are so deeply connected, and that the way we feel from day to day isn’t just due to one thing, it’s created by everything we experience and do. All layers of us communicate and connect to create the moment we’re experiencing right now. Through finding balance and harmony in the five sheaths, we can glimpse the stillness and peace of the True Self. In essence, it becomes evident that the sense of bliss and joy we’ve been looking for all along really doesn’t come from reaching outward beyond ourselves, but from looking within.