The Third Sheath is the mental body, the Manomaya Kosha. From a Western point of view when we think of the mind or the concept of mental, we identify it with the brain. In the Yogic Tradition mental incorporates the brain, the nervous system, and the sensory organs. Manas means mind, and maya means made of. The Manamaya Kosha gives us the sense of I or me. It also connects us to the sensation of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste.
The Annamaya Kosha is our meat suit or physical body. It begins in the gestational phase of our existence and ends upon our death when our body deteriorates to dust. The Pranamaya Kosha is our energetic body, our life force. It begins with our first breath at birth and ends on our last exhale. The Manomaya Kosha, however, turns on and off periodically. Every night when we go to sleep, or when we go deep into meditation the conscious mind, the sense of I or me, and the sensations turn off as well explore the deep rich inner world of the subconscious mind.
The whole purpose of Hatha yoga is to purify and control our senses. It is the ultimate science of helping us discover what lies behind the apparent reality of body and mind. ~ Phatabi Jois
When we viewed the 8-Limb Path, we discussed Pratyahara. The withdrawal of the senses and how Desikachar said that it wasn’t something that we could control, but a level of consciousness that we can explore when the right conditions that foster the ability to go deep within are present. The practice of Pratyahara allows us to take our attention and sensations from the external world and explore the internal.
Many times, people get caught up in the desire to appease the senses. Grabbing for external validation, or satiety. But when we are slaves to the ego or sensations we are limiting ourselves in our ability to be happy. To get to a place of contentment and be on the middle path we don’t need to let go of pleasures, only recognizing that they are temporary. Being okay with stillness or not doing. Knowing no matter what may happen, we are enough.
The Manomaya Kosha gives us the ability to go within. Each of the first three bodies, make self-realization accessible. We need a body, a life force, and to be sentient in order to access the highest sense of consciousness.