Yoga courseware: Glossary

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Yoga Glossary

Words in Sanskrit/Hindi Meanings in English
Abhyantara Internal
Abhyasa practice – the act of practicing
Acharya teacher
Adwaita a philosophy according to which there is no duality – only a singular state of consciousness
Agni fire
Agnisar kriya one of the shatkarmas (cleansing practices) -intestinal cleansing
Aham ego
Ahamkara Pride, Ego
Ahimsa non-violence, non-injury – one of the yamas of ashtanga yoga
Ajapa japa spontaneous repetition of ‘soham’ mantra
Ajna chakra energy circle located behind the forehead, also called psychic centre –

one of the seven energy centers

Akasha ether, space
Alasya Laziness
Anahata chakra energy circle located in the heart region; also called pranic centre

– fourth of the seven energy centers.

Ananda bliss, ecstasy
Anandamaya kosha The sheath of bliss
Annamaya kosha Anatomical sheath of man
Antar inner, internal
Antar dhauti internal yoga cleansing (shatkarma) techniques
Antar kumbhaka internal breath retention. The stage of pranayama where breath is retained after inhalation.
Antar mouna internal silence – a meditation practice.
Antaranga-sadhana Practice concerning the internal quest
Antaratma-sadhana Practice concerning the innermost quest
Anubhava experience, realization
Anusasanam Discipline
Aparigraha Freedom from greed
Arambhavastha Beginners stage
Ardha half
Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana Half hold/stretch lotus pose
Ardha dhanurasana half bow yoga pose
Ardha matsyendrasana half spinal twist yoga position
Ardha padmasana half lotus pose
Asana yoga position or yoga pose, also called yogasana.A balanced position for

smooth energy flow in specific areas of the body and mind.

Ashrama residential place of people living together in yogic tradition.
Ashtanga yoga the eight fold path of yoga as outlined by Patanjali: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi
Ashwini mudra practice of contracting the anal sphincter.
Asteya Non-stealing
Atman soul.
Aum see Om
Avidya ignorance
Avirati Desires
Bahir / bahya outside, external
Bahir kumbhaka external breath retention. The stage of pranayama where

breath is retained after exhalation.

Bahiranga External quest
Bahiranga trataka concentrating the attention (gaze) upon an external object such as a candle flame.
Bandha a posture in which organs and muscles are contracted to create

energy lock in a specific area.

Basti a colon cleansing technique (shakarma), yogic enema
Bhagvad Gita a part of the famous Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’. Teachings of Lord Krishna to his

disciple Arjuna at the commencement of the battle of Kurukshetra, with

explanations on sannyasa yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga.

Bhakti devotion
Bhakti marg Path of devotion
Bhakti yoga the yoga of devotion.
Bhastrika pranayama ‘bellows’ breathing technique in which the breath is forcibly drawn

in and out through the nose in equal proportions, like the pumping action of the bellows.

Bhramari pranayama breathing practice in which a soft “humming-bee” sound is produced during exhalation to stimulate the Ajna Chakra
Bhranti darshana False ideas, delusions
Bhujangasana cobra’ pose.
Brahmacharya Celibacy
Brahman supreme consciousness, absolute reality.
Buddhi Intelligence
Chakra Energy circle or wheel, in yoga this refers to the energy centers lying

along the confluence of the nadis (energy channels)

Chandra moon
Chandra nadi ida nadi
Chidakasha psychic space in front of the closed eyes, just behind the forehead.
Chin mudra hand gesture in which the first finger is kept at the root of the thumb,

the last three fingers are unfolded.

Chitta Consciousness which comprises mind, intellect
Chitta vritti Movement of the mind/consciousness
Danda stick
Danda dhauti one of the cleansing techniques (shatkarmas), used to clean the

oesophagus with a stick.

Danta dhauti teeth cleansing technique
Dhanurasana bow’ pose; backward bending yoga pose
Dharana practice of concentration; sixth of the eight fold path in ashtanga yoga
Dharma duty, righteous path
Dhauti second of the shatkarmas; cleansing technique of the eyes, ears, tongue, forehead, oesophagus, stomach, rectum and anus
Dhyana Meditation
Diksha initiation given by the guru.
Dosha three humours of the body; see kapha, pitta, vata
Dugdha neti nasal irrigation or cleansing technique using milk
Dukha Misery, pain
Ekagra Single pointed concentration
Ghatavastha Intermediate stage of yoga,
Gheranda Samhita Text on yoga, written by the sage Gheranda in the 15th century
Ghrita neti neti (nasal cleansing technique) performed with ghee
Gomukhasana cow’s face’ posture
Gorakshasana Yogi Gorakhnath’s’ pose
Guna quality of nature viz. tamas, rajas, sattwa
Guptasana the ‘secret’ pose
Guru spiritually enlightened soul, who can dispel darkness, ignorance

and illusion from the mind and enlighten the consciousness of a devotee/disciple

Guru-sishya parampara The tradition of teaching, where a Guru imparts his knowledge to his desciples
Hatha yoga science of yoga which purifies the whole physical body by means of shatkarma, asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha and concentration
Hathayoga Pradipika Treatise on yoga compiled in the 12th century by the sage Svatmarama
Hridaya akasha psychic space of the heart centre
Ida nadi one of the main energy channels running on the left side of the spine from the mooladhara (base) chakra to the ajna chakra in the head.
Isvara pranidhana Surrender to God
Jala water
Jala basti The yoga technique of enema using water – one of the yoga shatkarma
Jala neti a shatkarma technique – cleansing of the nasal passages with water by

alternating the flow of water in the nostrils, preferably using a neti pot.

Jalandhara bandha throat lock’ to restrict the flow of bereath through the throat – done by

resting the chin on the upper sternum (chest).

Japa continuous chanting i.e repetition of a mantra
Jihva dhauti one of the shatkarma techniques for cleansing the tongue.
Jivatma The individual self
Jnana knowledge, understanding, wisdom
Jnana marg Path of knowledge
Jnana mudra the gesture of knowledge – in this the index finger is bent so that its tip

is joined with the tip of the thumb, the other three fingers are spread out.

Jnana yoga the yoga of knowledge – attained through spontaneous self-analysis and investigation of abstract and speculative ideas.
Kaivalya Eternal emancipation
Kapal skull or cerebrum
Kapalbhati pranayama a breathing technique aimed at cleaning the frontal part of the brain;

also called skull polishing – done through rapid breaths with more force on exhalation.

Karana sharira Causal body, one of the three layers of the body
Karma action; the act of doing
Karma marg Path of selfless service without thought of reward
Karma yoga the yoga of action – aims at supreme consciousness through action;

discussed in Bhagavad Gita

Karna dhauti one of the shatkarma which involves cleansing the ears.
Karya sharira Gross body, one of the three layers of the body
Kati chakrasana waist rotating’ pose.
Kevala kumbhaka spontaneous cessation of breath without any conscious effort.
Klesha
Klesha afflictions or tensions or Trouble – according to yoga there are 5

such afflictions present in humans from birth

Koormasana tortoise’ pose – an advanced posture.
Kosha sheath or body; realm of experience and existence.
Kriya activity, dynamic yogic practice
Kriya yoga the practice of kundalini yoga
Ksipta Distracted
Kukkutasana cockerel’ pose
Kumbhaka Retention of breath
Kumbhaka breath retention
Kundalini Divine, cosmic energy which is latent in every being
Kundalini shakti refers to the human’s potential energy lying dormant in mooladhara(base)

chakra like a coiled serpent. When awakened it rises up through the

sushumna nadi.

Kundalini yoga philosophy expounding the awakening of potential energy and

inherent consciousness within the human body and mind.

Kunjal kriya a shatkarma (cleansing) technique that involves the cleansing of the

stomach by drinking in water and then expelling it by inducing vomiting.

Laghoo shankha prakshalana a shatkarma technique – also referred as the short intestinal wash.

Involves the drinking of several glasses of water and the expellingit through

stool after a series of exercises (asanas); in the process a thorough cleansing of the colon takes place.

Laya yoga union with the supreme consciousness through pranayama or devotion. Literally, union by absorption
Maha great
Maha bandha the great lock – combines the three locks in yoga – the moola bandha,

jalandhara bandha and uddiyana bandha – together with breath retention.

Maha mudra the great gesture – combines the practice of moola bandha, shambhavi

and khechari mudras simultaneously.

Maha nadi literally means ‘great nadi’, which is the ‘sushumna’ in yoga
Mahabharata The oldest of the Indian epics, dating to the first millennium BC
Makara crocodile
Makarasana crocodile’ pose
Manas The Mind
Manas chakra the energy center above the ajna chakra – is depicted with six petals
Manipura chakra the energy centre in the spinal column located behind the navel –

corresponding to the solar plexus.

Manomaya kosha The mental or the emotional sheath, one of the five sheaths of the body
Mantra subtle sound vibration, which through repetition aims at expanding one’s

awareness or consciousness.

Mantra shakti the power of mantra
Matsyendrasana a spine twisting pose
Mayur peacock
Mayurasana peacock’ pose – advanced pose aims at strengthening the arms and

stimulating the manipura chakra.

Moksha liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Moola root
Moola bandha energy lock created by the contraction of the perineum in the male

and the cervix in the female.

Mooladhara chakra lowest energy centre in the human body where the kundalini shakti

(serpent power) resides – situated in the perineal floor in men and

the cervix in women.

Moorchha pranayama fainting or swooning breath’ in which the breath is inhaled slowly and

retained for an extended period.

Mouna silence – the practice of silence
Muda Dull, inert
Mudra literally means ‘gesture’ – mudra expresses and channelizes cosmic

energy within the mind and body.

Nadi energy channels in the body, similar to the meridians in acupuncture
Nadi shodhana pranayama breathing technique – is the ‘alternate nostril breathing’ or ‘balanced

breathing’ – balances the energy flow in the channels and purifies the

energy channels (nadi) by balancing the flow of breath through the

right and left nostrils.

Nasagra/nasikagra mudra hand gesture adopted during pranayama to alternate the flow of

breath through the nostrils.

Nauli abdominal massage’ – a cleansing technique (shatkarma) involving

the contraction of the rectus abdominal muscles.

Neti kriya another shatkarma (cleansing technique) – involves cleaning of the

nasal passages or sinus irrigation jala neti forms a part of the various neti kriyas.

Nidra sleep
Nirbija Seedless
Nirodha Restraint
Nispattiavastha State of becoming one with the body, mind and self
Niyama Ethical disciplines
Om the universal mantra; cosmic vibration of the universe; represents the four states of consciousness
Pada foot; section of a literary work
Padahastasana Foot hand pose
Padangusthasana Big Toe Posture
Padmasana lotus pose – a seated meditative posture
Pancha makara the five tantric practices : mansa(meat), madhya(wine), matsya(fish),

mudra(grain), and maithuna(sexual intercourse)

Pancha tattwa the five elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether
Param highest, supreme, God
Paramatma the supreme atma; God
Parichayavastha Third stage of yoga practice, when the intelligence and body become

one, stage of perception of nada

Parigraha Possessiveness
Parivrtta Trikonasana Revolved three angle pose
Parmataman The universal self
Paschimottanasana back stretching pose
Patanjali A sage, the founder of Yoga; believed to have lived some time between 200-500 BC
Pingala nadi one of the main energy channels running on the right side of the spine

from the mooladhara (base) chakra to the ajna chakra in the head by

intersecting various chakras on the way.

Plavini pranayama breathing technique which involves gulping air and swallowing it into

the stomach and retaining it

Poornima full moon night
Prakamya fulfillment of desire
Prakasha inner light
Prakriti Nature
Pramada Carelessness
Pramana proof
Prana vital energy force sustaining life and creation
Pranamaya kosha The vital or the organic body, one of the five sheaths of the body
Pranayama
Pranayama Technique of breathing and breath control which regulates energy

flow and aims at maintaining energy balance, Expansion of the vital

energy through the regulation of the breath

Prasad an offering usually food to and from the guru or higher power
Prasarita Padottanasana extended leg stretch pose
Pratyahara Internalisation of the senses
Pratyahara sense withdrawal; first stage of concentrating on the mind during meditation
Pravritti nature of the mind
Prithvi tattwa the earth element
Purana eighteen ancient books consisting of legends and mythological narrations

dealing with creation, recreation and the genealogies of sages and rulers

Purusha man; pure consciousness
Purusha shakti The Seer or the soul
Purushartha purpose of the consciousness, of man’s existence- the four basic needs

or desires, arth, kaama, dharma, moksha

Raja yoga yoga in which union is achieved through concentration of mind
Rajasic Vibrant quality of nature
Rakta bindu red bindu, same as beeja(seed) bindu, shakti bindu; the potentially creative

bindu from which creation springs; often refers to the ovum.

Rechaka exhalation
Rudra Lord Shiva ; Rudra is one of the holy trinity
Sahasrara chakra highest energy centre located at the crown of the head
Sakshi witness
Samadhi Self Realization, the final stage of ashtanga yoga in which concentration becomes one with the object of concentration; supreme union.
Samshaya Doubt, problem
Samskara impressions stored in the mind that form the basis of our beliefs, attitudes and personality.
Samyama Integration
Sankalpa spiritual resolve.
Sannyasi one who has renounced the world in seek of self-realization.
Santosha contentment
Saraswati Goddess who bestows knowledge of fine arts and power of speech
Sarvaanga sadhana Holistic practice which integrates the body, mind and the self
Sarvangasana shoulderstand – an inverted posture
Sat truth
Satguru guru who has attained self-realization
Sattvic Luminous nature
Sattwa guna quality unwavering purity
Satya Truth
Saucha Cleanliness
Seetkari pranayama Breathing technique which involves hissing leading to a cooling effect upon the whole body.
Shabda Brahman cosmic causal state.
Shakti Vital energy
Shambhavi mudra a yoga gesture in which one focusses at the mid-eyebrow centre
Shashankasana moon pose
Shatkarma the six yogic techniques of purification of the body, viz. neti, dhauti, nauli, basti, trataka, kapalbhati
Sheetali pranayama cooling breath’ – a pranayama technique that lowers the body temperature by inhaling through the mouth while letting the breath flow in over the tongue.
Shishya disciple; student
Shvasa-prashvasa Uneven respiration or unsteadiness
Siddha yoni asana the female counterpart of the siddhasana meditative posture, in which the left heel presses the entrance to the vagina
Siddhasana a meditative seating posture in which the left heel presses the perineum (stimulating the mooladhara chakra); also called as the adept’s pose or the ‘pose of perfection’.
Sirshasana inverted pose – the ‘headstand’ in which the body is inverted and balanced on the crown of the head
Soham represents a mantra in meditation; literally means, ‘I am That’. Represents the Psychic sound with the sound ‘so’ during inhalation and ‘ham’ during exhalation.
Soma chakra sixteen petalled chakra situated above ajna and manas chakras
Styana Lack of interest
Sukhasana a comfortable meditative pose; also called the ‘easy pose’ or simply the cross-legged pose.
Sukshma sharira The subtle body, one of the three layers of the body
Surya bheda pranayama breathing technique in which inhalation is done through the right nostril ; increases vitality
Surya nadi see ‘pingala nadi’
Surya Namaskara Sun Salutation
Sushumna nadi main energy channel in yoga, in the centre of the spinal cord through which kundalini shakti flows.
Sutra neti yogic technique to cleanse the nasal passage using a special thread
Svadhyaya Self study
Svatmarama Author of Hathayoga Pradipika
Swadhishtana chakra Energy centre located above the organ of generation
Swadhisthana chakra second chakra in the spinal column, above the mooladhara.
Swastikasana auspicious pose -meditative posture similar to siddhasana
Tadasana palm tree pose- standing posture
Tamas the quality of inertia, laziness, procrastination.
Tamasic Inertic nature
Tapas Practice with discipline, devotion and religiosity
Tiryaka bhujangasana twisting cobra pose
Tiryaka tadasana swaying palm tree pose
Trataka one of the cleansing techniques (shatkarma) in which the gaze is focussed upon an object such as a candle flame.
Uddiyana bandha abdominal retraction lock’; drawing in of the abdomen towards the backbone after exhaling
Ujjayi pranayama a kind of breathing technique which produces a light sonorous sound.
Utkatasana squatting position
Uttankoormasana Tortoise pose
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana extended hand toe posture
Uttihita Parsvakonasana Revolved side angle pose
Uttihita Trikonasana Extended three angle pose
Vajrasana the ‘thunderbolt’ pose; a kneeling posture with buttocks resting upon the heels.
Vama swara flow of breath in the left nostril
Vaman dhauti yogic technique to cleanse the stomach by voluntary vomiting. There are two types: kunjal kriya (regurgitating of water) and vyaghra (regurgitating of food)
Varisara dhauti yogic cleansing technique in which a large quantity of water is drunk in conjunction with asanas to cleanse the entire digestive tract; also known as shankhaprakshalana.
Vashitva ability to control all objects, living and non-living
Vastra dhauti yogic detoxification technique in which a specially prepared cloth is swallowed and removed after ten minutes, in order to remove mucus from the stomach
Vatsara dhauti a cleansing technique in which the air swallowed into the stomach is belched out.
Vayu tattwa air element
Vedas four ancient texts- Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva, which are further divided into Samhita, Brahmana, Aranayaka and Upanishads. They were revealed to the sages and saints of India which explain and regulate every aspect of life from supreme reality to worldly affairs. The oldest books in the library of mankind.
Veerasana hero,s pose – for concentration and discrminative thinking.
Vijnanmaya kosha Intellectual sheath, one of the five sheaths of the body
Viksipta Scattered and agitated
Virabhadrasasana Warrior Pose
Vishuddhi chakra Energy centre situated behind the throat
Vyadhi Physical ailments
Yama Ethical codes for daily life
Yamuna river emanating from Yamnotri in the Himalayas and joining Ganga near Allahabd, North India;refers to pingala nadi in the pranic body.
Yoga state of union between two opposites – body and mind; individual and universal consciousness; a process of uniting the opposing forces in the body and mind in order to achieve supreme awareness and enlightenment.
Yoga abhyasa practice of yoga.

compiled by – mahendra (www.paramyoga.org)

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