Here's a glossary of Yoga terms for those new to
the discipline. They should help you to understand some basic concepts
and principles related to
the practice of Yoga.
Asana means pose or seat. (The third of the eight limbs of Ashtanga
Ashtanga Yoga is derived from the teachings of K.Pattabhi Jois and is
the Yoga of the eight limbs. These are yama (ethical disciplines), niyama (self
observation), asana (posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal
of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (a
state of joy and peace). Ashtanga Yoga is Yoga with Vinyasa, a unique way of
linking and flowing one asana (posture) into the next.
Bandhas are internal locks within the body.
Bhakti Yoga is the way of love and the emotions. Love is the most powerful,
positive and primary emotion. Our consciousness always expands in Love. Although
this appears simple and easy, it is difficult because pure love is about letting
go of the ego.
Chakras are the energy centres in the astral body and are located at
different places along the passage of the major Nadis.
Dhyana Yoga is the way of meditation, this is a system of silencing
the body, mind and intellect.
Drishti is the point of focus, where the eyes gaze when practising Yoga.
Hatha Yoga is the physical aspect of the Yoga Practice, including postures
(asana), breathing techniques (pranayama), seals (mudras), locks (bandhas)
and cleansing practices (kriyas). 'Ha' means sun and 'tha' means moon. The
object of Hatha Yoga is to balance the flow of the solar and lunar energy in
the human body.
Iyengar Yoga is Yoga practised with the teachings of BKS Iyengar.
Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar with his intellectual and spiritual practices has
masterminded many techniques which can be used by all practitioners of yoga. "Research based experience" and "experience based research" has helped him in evolving "Iyengar Yoga".
He has therefore made it possible for ordinary human beings to experience the
wisdom of the yoga sutras. Iyengar yoga is meant for all and is a way of life.
The use of props, such as wooden gadgets, belts, ropes helps the practitioner
to achieve perfection in any asana.
Japa is the science of mantra repetition.
Jnana Yoga is the Yoga of self-inquiry.
Karma is action and reaction.
Karma Yoga is performing actions as selfless service without attachment
to the results.
Kriya is action and practice, in Hatha Yoga it is the practice of cleansing
Kriya Yoga includes the three preliminary steps in Yoga according to
Patanjali; austerity (tapas), study (svadhyaya) and self-surrender (Isvara
Kumbhaka is breath retention.
Kundalini is the energy stored at the base of every individual's spine.
Mantra is a sound formula for meditation, it's the spoken sacred prayer.
Mantra is a combination of sounds that link us to Cosmic energy. The mantras
come from a Divine plane and are coined by the Rishis (sages). Each mantra
has a different effect. It should not be picked up at random and should always
be received from a spiritual guide.
Meditation is silencing, this is silencing the body, mind and intellect.
The word Dhyana was coined by the Rishis (sages) a long time ago. They called
the intellect, mind and body as the Adi (first), Madhya (middle) and Antya
(last) Koshas (sheaths or bodies). From these words they picked up Dh, Ya and
Aa and joined them as Dhya. Dhya represents the body, mind and intellect. They
added Na which means 'No'. So, Dhyana means no body, no mind and no intellect.
It's purpose is to make them silent.
Moola Bandha is the root lock held at the base of our nervous system,
the spinal column. In men it's the perineal muscle which is located at the
front of the anus and behind the genitals; and in women its near the top of
Mudras are used to signify gestures, a mystic position of the hands,
a seal, or even a symbol. There are also eye positions, body postures and breathing
techniques that are called mudras.
Nadis are the astral vessels that carry the spiritual energy through
the physical body.
OM is the cosmic vibration which includes all other sounds and vibrations,
the basic mantram, the absolute Brahman (the Absolute) as sound.
Patanjali Maharishi was Yogi and sage who compiled the 'Yoga Sutras'
considered to be the 'Father of Yoga'.
Prana-apana is the ascending and descending energy within the human
Pranayama is the practice of controlling the vital life force, usually
through the control of breath (the fourth of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga).
Raja Yoga is the 'Royal Yoga', the system of concentration and meditation
based on ethical discipline.
Samadhi is contemplation, superconscious state, absorption (the eighth
and final limb or culmination of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga).
Sivananda Yoga is based on the philosophies and teachings of Swami Sivananda.
He rarely left the little town of Rishikesh (with only 2 India tours and no
visits abroad) Swami Sivananda's teachings spread quickly throughout our entire
planet. He personally wrote - by hand, no computers at the time :-) - more
than 200 books on topics connected to Yoga and Philosophy. He wrote in a style
that is very direct and bursting with dynamic, spiritual energy. As a result
many who read his books felt their lives deeply touched and transformed and
so came from all of India, all of the world, to learn from him directly, and
to bask in his holy presence. The teachings of Master Sivananda are summarized
in these 6 words: "Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize". In 1957,
Swami Sivananda sent his devoted and industrious disciple, Swami Vishnudevananda
to the West where he then established the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta
Tantra Yoga is a practice using yantram (a sacred geometrical figure
representing a particular aspect of the divine) and mantra (sound formula for
meditation) to experience the union of Siva (God as auspiciousness) and Sakti
(energy, the Divine Mother), or the masculine and feminine energy forces within
The Third Eye is a special faculty through which we perceive things
we cannot ordinarily perceive through the senses. This is located in the forehead
of the Astral Body (this is the spiritual body).
Uddiyana Bandha means flying upward, this is created by exhaling and
drawing up the lower belly in and up while simultaneously lifting up the diaphragm.
Ujjayi means victorious and is a specialised breath used in various
forms of Yoga asana practice. This breathing technique creates a soft sound
at the back of the throat and is used to heat the body.
What is Yoga?
means 'joining', establishing the contact. Establishing the
contact between this
individual Soul and the
Cosmic Soul. It is expanding this limited Consciousness
to the Cosmic Consciousness.
The purpose of Yoga is liberation (Mukti) from
Liberation from the limitations of the Body,
Mind and Intellect.
Liberation from Desire, Anger, Selfishness and
all other negative tendencies.
Liberation from this human plane of Ignorance,
Arrogance and Contentment.
Liberation from exhausting Emotions, the unending
and confusing web of thoughts and unsatiating short-lived
Liberation from the ivory tower of our Ego.
“All that can be known is known, and knowledge is
said to be in the mind.”
Hatha Yoga Pradipika