Derived from Sanskrit, kosha means "sheath" or "covering." As such, the koshas are often called the five sheathes. The annamaya kosha, which translates as “sheath consisting of food” or “foodstuff sheath,” is the sheath of the physical. The yogi who understands him/herself within this kosha would define him/herself as a physical body: blood, flesh, bones, fat, and eating and drinking to sustain the body.
Within the annamaya kosha, there are three other koshas:
- Sthula (physical) – where one realizes the taste and importance of food
- Sukshma (subtle) – where the importance and effect of food is felt
- Karana (causal) – in which the mental impressions (or samskaras) of food are preserved
It is believed that an individual’s physique as well as their personality traits stem from the health of the annamaya kosha. Although the annamaya kosha is the first and most basic layer of one's self, discovering each kosha is believed to bring the individual closer to oneness with the universe and the true Self.