This month I have been writing every morning as a personal practice. Brush, floss, neti, and then write. I start by writing five things I am grateful for in a small red notebook 8 Limbs Managing Director Ashley gave me for Christmas. I note when I got up, how I felt, and any dreams that come to me. Then I turn to creative writing. This morning I wrote about the The Koshas, one of the subjects I teach in the 8 Limbs Teacher Training and that I will be sharing in the Virtual Yoga Conference and the Wedgwood Thursday Master Class in March.

The basic concept of this system from the Upanisads is that all beings have a true self, or soul, that exists deep within. Our atman is always there, shining and unchanging, but the realization of this pure and clear aspect of that Self can be covered, or sheathed, obscuring our true nature and diverting our attention to the coverings themselves. These coverings are called The Koshas, and go from gross to subtle in the following order:
Annamaya Kosha: the physical sheath
Pranamaya Kosha: the energetic sheath
Manomaya Kosha: the wisdom sheath
Vijnanamaya Kosha: the personality sheath
Anandamaya Kosha: the bliss sheath

The practices of yoga systematically address each these koshas, clearing the way for a lasting relationship with our true self. Asana, pranayama, chanting, meditation and prayer are tools that tend to these layers of the human condition and help us to access our potential.

One way to use begin one’s study of this construct is to take a personal inventory of how each dimension is operating. We can note what is working as well as what is stuck, or creating opacity, in each layer of our being.
How is your alignment? How is your metabolism? How curious and open are you? How well is your character navigating its relationships? What nourishes you and brings you bliss?

This model can also be stretched to the workings of our little yoga business. Like any living organism, 8 Limbs has to be cared for to function optimally. After launching some huge projects (Phinney Ridge studio, website revamp, 500-hour Teacher Training) in less than a year, we took time in the fall to look at how all of our systems are working and look at the big picture of our business and our place in the community.

We asked “how is our physical sheath (Annamaya Kosha), where can we make facility improvements in 2011?” We looked at how we spend our energy (Pranamaya Kosha) as a team, and are in the midst of a reorganization of admin staff (email info@8limbsyoga.com to hear about our Communications Director Job Posting!). The flow of information and institutional knowledge was audited to address our wisdom sheath (Manomaya Kosha). We underwent a branding exercise to clarify our personality as a business (Vijnanamaya Kosha), which helped us to remember with the bliss of why we are in this business in the first place, to create connections (Anandamaya Kosha).

Out of this investigation, we are pleased to announce our new mission: 8 Limbs is dedicated to creating community in Seattle with a non-denominational approach to yoga. And our call to action: “eight limbs, many paths, find/follow yours.”

Step by step, we keep caring for our organism.

Want to learn more about The Koshas? Next week I join 100 other speakers to teach from a virtual yoga classroom in the Virtual Yoga Conference, February 8 – 12. Be sure to use code APP219 to receive $50 off conference registration. Thursdays in March I will teach The Koshas at 8 Limbs Wedgwood during our “Master Class” series (this month Jay is teaching The Bandhas), 7:15-8:30pm. Class is included in memberships/class passes or open to drop-ins. See you there!

Posted by: Anne Phyfe Palmer

Neighborhood Studios