The second of the five koshas is pranamaya kosha—the energy body. The vital energies of the body—also known as prana—on the physiologic level and on a more subtle level, are contained within this kosha. Prana does not necessarily “reside” within the body, as it pervades throughout the body and the immediate surroundings. But energetically, this kosha lies within the first sheath, anamaya kosha, due to its more subtle nature.
Although pranamaya kosha is subtle, it can be easily felt. You know the feeling that an easy, deep breath brings. You also know how it feels when your breathing is labored. To develop the pranamaya kosha, breath awareness must be cultivated. This can begin in yoga class as you continually bring your attention to the breath. Let your focus deepen as you become aware of how your body moves in response to your breath, and how your breath feels throughout the practice. Let that awareness follow you off the mat and into your life.
Similarly, the energy you feel in response to emotions is also part of the pranamaya kosha. The energies that underlie conversations, thoughts, and actions must also be controlled if we are to truly develop the pranamaya kosha. These energies have a profound effect on us, which is why it is crucial that we gain awareness of them so that we may be better able to magnify our positive words, thoughts, and actions, and minimize the negative ones. This practice is a part of understanding the pranamaya kosha.
Meditation practice is a perfect method to develop pranamaya kosha because the subtle pranic energies come together as we sit quietly with our breath. Thoughts arise and fade away, and we are more able to notice it. The breath is a powerful tool that is accessible to us every moment of every day. When pranamaya kosha is used in the right way, the potential for finding peace within us is great.