Practical Yoga Philosophy [5 Dimensions of Human System]

Are you interested in exploring positive benefits of a regular yoga practice with practical yoga philosophy?

Whether you are a complete beginner or a veteran practitioner, I believe this article can aid you in your journey. In the following article, I would like to share with you a yogic perspective on the human system. It is represented in a five-dimensional bird model (Pancha Maya).

Yoga is a Science of Life

You can think of these levels as a series of Russian “matryoshka” dolls. Each doll is embedded within the others. As we unravel matryoshka dolls, we go from the outer to the inner layers in greater and greater levels of subtlety.

This article is based on my notes from the Chase Bossart workshop.

5 Dimensions of Human System:

Bird Model (Pancha Maya)

The five-dimensional (Pancha Maya) system is a heart of a yoga practice.  According to this model, there are five dimensions or layers in the human system:

Physical Body – Annamaya 

Breath or Life Force – Pranamaya 

Intellect – Manomaya 

Personality – Vijnanamaya 

Feelings [which are the seat of bliss] – Anandamaya 

Each dimension consists of five additional layers.  A bird model is used to represent a human system. Given that, a bird is a symbol of freedom and can only fly when all its parts are functioning properly.

This model helps us to work efficiently with a limited number of broad categories. It is also very useful in maintaining and restoring health.

Physical Body (Annamaya)

This layer represents a physical body or the “gross” expression of it. What we can see, touch and feel. The word Anna means food, and the word maya means appearance.

This layer is nourished and created by food.

Seven Tissues 

The physical body consists of seven tissues (dhatus) that hold the body:

  1. Essence or Plasma  – Rasa 
  2. Blood – Rakta 
  3. Muscle – Mamsa 
  4. Fat – Meda
  5. Bone – Asthi
  6. Bone Marrow and Nerve – Majja 
  7. Reproductive Fluid – Shukra

The essence tissue (rasa dhatu) is formed from the essence of the food that we take. We can think of this essence (rassa) as a stew. It is very light but cooks for a very long time.

Food can have six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Furthermore, it can be consumed in three forms: chewable, swallowed and drinkable.

Also, there are five elements of nature in our food.  The essence is dependent on the balance of these five elements: space, the wind, fire, water, and earth.

These are the basic representation of food essence. When we talk about “earth” element, we refer to hardness and heaviness; while water represents wetness, coldness, etc. In other words, the basis of the theory is to lay the fundamental categories. We won’t be delving any further into the elements of food (rassa) since this subject is very broad and beyond the scope of this article.

The Digestive System is the Foundation for the

Healthy Human System.

Equally important, all seven tissues (dhatus) are inner-connected. To have a sound reproduction, we need to have a healthy digestion.  In fact, the digestive system is the foundation for the healthy human system. The byproducts of the essence (rasa) transforms into blood (rakta). Consequently, blood nourishes all the tissues (dhatus) up to the reproductive tissues (shukra). The reproduction (shukra) is the essence of all previous fabrics.

The digestion is the foundation of the human system. Your are not what we eat, but you are what you don’t exert.

So, digestion is the first step towards greater health. It starts with food preparation, the thoughts of food, smells, and how it tastes. Also, it is important where, when and with whom you choose to eat. Additionally, our food intake is one of the few things we have complete control.

Furthermore, excretions play an essential role in balancing all our tissues. When a digestive system is out of balance, our body will show signs of aggravation eventually leading to states of imbalances and diseases.

To summarize, tissues of the body are regularly formed getting their nutrition from the food we take, destroyed in due course of time and once again replaced. The quality and quantity of food, digestion, absorption, and transformation of nutrition in the cells, all contribute to the tissue health.

Ten Organs of Perception (Karana)

The mind reacts to every movement, image, sound, smell, touch, taste and other messages. It perceives reality through the senses.

There are 11 sensory organs (indriyas): five organs of sensual perception (jnanendriyas), five organs of action perception (karmendriyas)  and the mind (manas).

Five sense organs of sensual perception (jnanendriyas):

  1. Ears  (Shotra)
  2. Eyes (Chakshu) 
  3. Nose (Grahna)
  4. Tongue  (Jivha)
  5. Skin (Tvak)

Five organs of action perception (karmendriyas):

  1. The ability to grasp (Pani)
  2.  Locomotion (Pada)
  3. Mouth (Vak)
  4. Reproductive organs (Upastha)
  5. Elimination organs (Payu)

Practical Application

The practice of physical movement (asanas), breathing exercise (pranayama) and meditation align our entire system. As a result, we gain the ability to focus the mind. In other words, we can reach the state of yoga or the state of sustained attention. We free ourselves from being constantly pushed and pulled by our senses. Instead, we can gain focus and clarify.

Thanks for reading! I would really love to hear your comments!



  1. I think it makes a lot of sense that the image of a bird is used to describe the functioning human body, and I had to chuckle when I saw the picture of the frogs with the toilet paper 😉 I actually pinned it to my “Raw Feeding” board on Pinterest. After all, the same logic can be applied to K9 nutrition as well.

    Have you written some blog posts or done videos on/of breathing exercises? I would find that helpful.

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