Subtle Body

Definition - What does Subtle Body mean?

In yogic and Hindu philosophy, the subtle body is one of three bodies that together constitute a human existence. It is also known by the Sanskrit name, sukshma sharira, and is sometimes called the astral body (linga sharira). The other two bodies are the physical body and the causal body.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the subtle body is described as a combination of the mind, the intellect and the ego, and it is the subtle body that controls the physical. Through the subtle body, the yogi experiences pleasure and pain.

Yogapedia explains Subtle Body

Each of the three bodies plays a role in transporting the self along the path to liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. Through yoga, one can control the energies of these bodies, beginning with the physical and subtle before connecting with the higher Self through the causal body.

Each body is associated koshas, or layers of awareness that hide the true Self. As the yogi discovers each layer and removes it, he/she moves closer to oneness with the universe and his/her true Self. The yogi peels back these layers in the subtle body through three of The Eight Limbs of Yoga: pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyhara (sensory withdrawal) and dharana (concentration).

The subtle body is sheathed by the pranamaya kosha (vital layer related to hunger, thirst, hot and cold), manomaya kosha (mental layer related to delusion, thinking, doubt, anger and depression) and vijnanamaya kosha (intellectual layer related to ego and decision-making).

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