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Exploring the Healing Power of Trauma-Informed Psychotherapy, Mindfulness, and Yoga Nidra through the Pancha Maya Koshas

In the quest for holistic wellbeing and healing, integrating trauma-informed psychotherapy, mindfulness, and Yoga Nidra offers a powerful approach. By understanding and balancing the Pancha Maya Koshas—the five layers of the self—alongside the Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy’s view of Self, we can foster profound healing and transformation.

Yoga Philosophy
The 5 Layers of Self

Understanding Pancha Maya Koshas

The term "Pancha Maya Kosha" derives from Sanskrit: "Pancha" means five, "Maya" translates to "consisting of," and "Kosha" refers to layers or sheaths. These five layers of the self range from the grossest to the most subtle, guiding us through a journey of deep self-awareness in Yoga Nidra meditation.

The Five Koshas and Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra, often described as yogic sleep, is a meditation practice that takes practitioners through these five layers, promoting deep rest and healing.

  1. Annamaya Kosha (Physical Body): This layer, made of food, represents our physical body. In Yoga Nidra, we begin with a "Rotation of Consciousness" or body scan, moving awareness through the physical body to foster relaxation and presence.

  2. Pranamaya Kosha (Energy Body): Comprising prana (life force energy), this layer involves the breath and vital energy. Here, practices like "Prana Dharana" focus on the flow of prana, enhancing vitality and inner balance.

  3. Manomaya Kosha (Mental Body): This layer, made of thoughts, encompasses our emotions and mental patterns. Yoga Nidra engages this kosha through "Pratipaksha Bhavana," which involves meditating on opposite sensations or emotions to cultivate emotional resilience and clarity.

  4. Vijnanamaya Kosha (Wisdom Body): Beyond the fluctuations of thoughts and emotions, this layer represents deeper intuition and wisdom. Visualization and imagery practices in Yoga Nidra help access this kosha, fostering insight and self-awareness.

  5. Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Body): The subtlest layer, this kosha is associated with bliss and the causal body where samskaras (latent impressions) reside. During Yoga Nidra, setting a Sankalpa (heartfelt intention) plants seeds of positive change in this profound layer.

Integrating IFS Therapy and the Koshas

Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy views the mind as a system of parts, each with its own perspective, alongside the core Self, which is characterized by qualities like calmness, curiosity, and compassion. Balancing the Koshas can be seen as aligning with the Self in IFS, promoting harmony among our internal parts.

  1. Annamaya Kosha and Self-Compassion: Through mindfulness and body awareness, we develop a compassionate relationship with our physical body, akin to IFS’s emphasis on Self-leadership and caring for our parts.

  2. Pranamaya Kosha and Vitality: By regulating our energy through breath and prana practices, we support the dynamic equilibrium of our internal system, reflecting the vitality and harmony of the Self.

  3. Manomaya Kosha and Emotional Healing: Addressing emotions and mental patterns with mindfulness and opposite emotion practices aligns with IFS’s goal of understanding and healing our parts, fostering emotional balance.

  4. Vijnanamaya Kosha and Insight: Cultivating witness consciousness through the wisdom body aligns with the Self’s clarity and insight, allowing us to navigate our internal world with greater understanding.

  5. Anandamaya Kosha and Inner Peace: Connecting with the bliss body through Sankalpa setting resonates with IFS’s vision of a harmonious internal family, where all parts feel seen, valued, and integrated.

Practical Applications for Therapists in Clinical Practice

Therapists can integrate trauma-informed psychotherapy, mindfulness, and Yoga Nidra into their clinical practice in several practical ways to enhance client outcomes. First, they can begin sessions with mindfulness exercises, such as breath awareness or guided imagery, to help clients ground themselves and become present.

Incorporating body scans and gentle yoga poses during therapy sessions can help clients develop a deeper connection with their physical bodies, which is particularly beneficial for those with trauma histories. Yoga Nidra can be introduced as a part of homework or self-care practices, providing clients with a structured method to achieve deep relaxation and process emotions safely.

Therapists trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy can use the Koshas framework to help clients identify and connect with their different internal parts, fostering self-compassion and internal harmony. By setting clear intentions (Sankalpa) during these practices, therapists can help clients align their subconscious with their therapeutic goals, promoting lasting change. These integrative techniques create a holistic therapeutic environment, addressing the mind, body, and spirit, and supporting comprehensive healing.

A Simple Yoga Nidra Meditation Script


  • Find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed.

  • Lie down on your back in a comfortable position (Savasana), with your arms resting by your sides and palms facing up.

  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, allowing your body to relax completely.

Beginning the Practice

  1. Settle In:

  • Begin by bringing your awareness to your breath. Notice the natural rhythm of your breathing, without trying to change it. Just observe.

  • Take a moment to set a Sankalpa (intention) for your practice. This could be a simple, positive affirmation such as “I am at peace” or “I am whole.”

  1. Body Scan (Annamaya Kosha):

  • Start at the top of your head and slowly move your awareness down through your body. Bring attention to each part: the forehead, eyes, cheeks, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, abdomen, hips, legs, and feet.

  • As you focus on each part, imagine it relaxing and releasing any tension.

  1. Breath Awareness (Pranamaya Kosha):

  • Shift your awareness to your breath. Feel the rise and fall of your abdomen with each inhale and exhale.

  • Begin to count your breaths from 1 to 10. If you lose count, gently bring your mind back to the breath and start again.

  1. Emotion Awareness (Manomaya Kosha):

  • Bring to mind a feeling of warmth and compassion. Allow yourself to feel this sensation fully.

  • Now, think of an opposite emotion or sensation, such as coolness or neutrality. Spend a few moments experiencing this as well.

  1. Visualization (Vijnanamaya Kosha):

  • Visualize a peaceful place that brings you comfort and tranquility. It could be a beach, forest, mountain, or any place where you feel safe and relaxed.

  • Spend a few moments exploring this place in your mind. Notice the sights, sounds, and feelings associated with it.

  1. Bliss Body (Anandamaya Kosha):

  • Allow your awareness to rest in the feeling of pure being. Let go of any thoughts or sensations, and simply be in this moment of stillness.

  • If a thought or sensation arises, observe it without judgment and let it pass.

Closing the Practice

  1. Returning:

  • Gently bring your awareness back to your breath. Feel the rise and fall of your abdomen.

  • Begin to wiggle your fingers and toes, slowly bringing movement back to your body.

  1. Reflect and Integrate:

  • Take a moment to reflect on your practice. Notice how you feel.

  • When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and bring your awareness back to the room.

  1. Affirmation:

  • Conclude by silently repeating your Sankalpa (intention) three times, feeling it deeply within you.


Integrating trauma-informed psychotherapy, mindfulness, and Yoga Nidra through the framework of the Pancha Maya Koshas and IFS therapy offers a comprehensive approach to healing and well-being. By journeying through these layers of the self, we cultivate a deeper understanding and harmony within, fostering profound transformation and inner peace.

With love, AGLOW

Stacy Ruse, LPC, RYI, EMDR & IFS Consultant

Stacy Ruse, LPC, is an esteemed Evergreen EMDR & IFS-Institute Consultant, and founder of Aglow Counseling. Stacy teaches a therapeutic style that is characterized by the art of EMDR & IFS therapies with a transpersonal twist, transcending the conventional boundaries of traditional therapy. Her holistic approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit allowing individuals to tap into their innate resilience and ignite their personal transformation journey. As a trauma expert, national and international trainer, and clinical consultant, Stacy's approach is deeply rooted in trauma-informed methodologies.

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