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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.

GLOSSARY:

Asana means pose or seat. (The third of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga).

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 techniques.

Kriya Yoga includes the three preliminary steps in Yoga according to Patanjali; austerity (tapas), study (svadhyaya) and self-surrender (Isvara pranidhanam).

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 the cervix.

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 body.

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 Centers.

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 individual.

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?

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 all limitations.

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 pleasures.

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
(iv:60)