What is the Subtle Body?

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Course Overview

How can gaining an understanding of the subtle body and doing subtle body practices improve our life and enhance our yoga practice? In this program, tantra yoga educator Jeanne Heileman teaches you about the five koshas (the “layers” or “sheaths” that yoga tradition describes as making up the whole of our individual beings), the prana vayus (“pathways for the breath”), and the power of mantra and pranayama (breathwork) in cultivating vitality in daily life. 

You’ll learn about each kosha—the etymology of their names, some of their origin stories, and  how they can affect our everyday actions. Jeanne gives you real-life examples and tips to consider as you reflect on your own connection to the subtle body. To enhance your understanding of these concepts, she offers you mantra, pranayama, and meditation practices that are designed to bring you to a place of greater equanimity and peace.

This program includes eight short lectures, one long lecture, and two practices: Annamaya Kosha (the physical sheath); Pranamaya Kosha (the life force sheath); Manomaya Kosha (the the “lower mind” sheath); Vijnanamaya Kosha (the wisdom sheath); Anandamaya Kosha (the bliss sheath); A Look at the Big Picture: Gross Body, Subtle Body, Causal Body; The Prana Vayus; Let’s Explore Mantra; The Practice: Integrated Pranayama; and The Practice: Mantra Meditation.

Enjoy this nuanced yet grounded approach to whole-being concepts that will enliven your yoga practice and your outlook on your personal journey.

Certificate of completion

3 CEU’s Upon Completion

Self Paced Learning

Course Outline

1.3hr to complete

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Section 1
  • Jeanne introduces you to the program and gives you an overview of the subtle body.
  • The first kosha (sheath) is the annamaya kosha, the physical body. Jeanne explains the etymology of the word annamaya and how food, digestion, and asana are all part of this layer.
  • The second kosha is the pranamaya kosha or “the life force body.” In this lecture, Jeanne discusses how the life force (prana) manifests in daily life and how breathing practices, bandhas, and mudras can help us cultivate vitality. You’ll also learn about ayurvedic and yogic concepts that can help you understand the movement of prana in the body.
  • The third kosha is the manomaya or the “lower mind” kosha. Learn more about the meaning of the word manomaya and the lens yoga philosophy provides for contemplating the nature of our physical bodies, our thoughts, and our emotions. Jeanne also offers suggestions for how to “still our minds” with a few practices that you’ll learn more about in upcoming videos.
  • Vijnanamaya kosha is the “wisdom sheath.” In this lesson, you’ll learn about the process of connecting to your “higher intelligence”—or buddhi—with meditation. Jeanne also explains how a step-by-step meditation practice can help us move toward a more satisfying reality in day-to-day life.
  • The fifth kosha is anandamaya kosha, the “bliss body.” Jeanne tells you one of the yogic stories about this kosha and how it can lead us to understanding our truest self and that which is real and unchanging.
  • How do we incorporate the knowledge of the subtle body into our lives? In this lecture, you’ll learn about the connection between the koshas and the gross, subtle, and causal bodies, and how this understanding can bring us to a deeper internal wisdom. Jeanne uses a few examples to illustrate how asana, pranayama, and our outlook on life can help us to access new ideas and perspectives.
  • In this lecture, Jeanne teaches you about finer points of breath regulation so you can use your breath to calm your mind. Then she introduces you to the five prana vayus or “pathways for the breath” and the role they can play in our physical, mental, and emotional lives. You’ll learn about apana vayu (which governs elimination), samana vayu (which governs assimilation), prana vayu (which governs energy), udana vayu (which governs growth), and vyana vayu (which governs our hearts and our sense of ourselves in the world).
  • Jeanne introduces mantra as a tool for quieting the mind. You’ll learn how our thoughts are connected to our actions, about self-study, and how mantras like om and so ham can help us move away from thinking patterns and habits that don’t serve us and move toward ones that do.
  • Jeanne guides you through a vayu-focused meditation practice that incorporates ujjayi and sama vritti pranayamas. You can do this practice seated or lying down.
  • In this pranayama practice and mantra meditation, you’ll do ujjayi breathing and silently chant the so ham mantra. Jeanne gently guides you through this sensory experience.

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Meet Your Teacher

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Jeanne Heileman
Hi! I’m Jeanne. I love studying, practicing, and teaching yoga and have been at this for a long time,... Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely, you can include this course in your Yoga Alliance training hours, with each hour equivalent to one continuing education credit.
This course is entirely self- paced, allowing you to learn at your convenience.There are no imposed deadlines or time constraints for Course completion.
No prerequisites are required; this course is open to anyone interested in deepening their knowledge and practice.
No, the course is accessible to all individuals interested in enriching their understanding and practice of yoga.Yoga teaching certification is not a prerequisite.

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