In the Taittriya Upanishad, an ancient Tantric yoga text, a human being is described as having five sheaths or koshas which are interspersed with each other, encasing the soul just like the layers of an onion.
The outermost layer is the food sheath or ‘annamaya kosha’ followed by the vital energy sheath or ‘pranamaya kosha’. The third layer of existence is the mental sheath or ‘manomaya kosha.’
The manomaya kosha entails the processing of thoughts and emotions. The mind is constantly chattering as we go about our life. It is like a running commentary in the backdrop of all our actions. Basically our mind makes constant assumptions and judgments based on a one sided perception of our experiences.
Any yoga asana session is designed to take one’s attention inwards as one goes through the physical practice with a careful, dedicated attention on the breath. The constant attention and focus on the breath helps in bringing the distracted mind to state of stillness as the thoughts begin to fade away. This is a technique which one can apply to life once off the mat as well.
The third kosha is the bridge between the two lower and upper two sheaths of the five layers of human existence, as per yogic philosophy.
Getting caught up in the mind’s constant commentary is one of the main reasons for distress and unhappiness. Through yogic practices it is possible to train one’s mind so it snaps out of the unnecessary thoughts that take away our energies.
As Sri Sri Ravishakar ji says, ‘At all cost save your mind!’ Hence working on keeping the manomaya kosha healthy and vibrating positively is the essence of any yoga practice.