The term “Vijñana”, meaning the art of distinguishing, discerning understanding from within, is found in the old texts where the human being and the cosmos are described as having five layers.
Vijñana maya kosha, is one of the five sheaths (koshas) that make up the Self.
The intuitive knowing quality of Vijñana surfaces when the body, mind and heart come together as one.
The outer layer is called Ana-maya-kosha, this is the physical frame of the body.
Encompassed within the outer layer is the Prana-maya-kosha, the energetic body.
The Mano-maya-kosha is composed of word and thought, this is the mental layer.
The Vijñana-maya-kosha is the deep intuitive intelligence that allows understanding, discernment and embodies insight and wisdom.
The Ananda-maya-kosha is the inner most layer, the bliss self, the essence. The Joy.
This state of seeing and understanding seems to resonate with a way of being, seeing and acting that is both the means and the objective of our yoga practice.
Through the guiding lines of the seven principles, the practice of sitting, breathing, asanas and the study of texts, we aspire to refine and integrate the body, mind heart and consciousness.
Energy - Pranamaya kosha
The next of the koshas is Pranamaya kosha.
Prana means energy. It is the vital force that produces the subtle vibrations related to breath, and which are the driving force behind the physical aspect of the senses and the operation of the physical body.
It allows the invisible indweller, our True Self to be able to animate in the external world.
At the same time, however, it allows the eternally still, silent center of consciousness to be mistakenly identified as the moving, visible physical body.
For both a healthy life and the practice of meditation, Vedanta says that it is very useful, or essential that this level of our being be trained, regulated, and directed, so that it flows smoothly.
In meditation, we become aware of Pranamaya kosha, explore it, and then go inward, to and through the other koshas.