Yoga Sanskrit Glossary

This yoga glossary gives definitions of the sanskrit words found throughout this website, with links to the places where they are used.

For a comprehensive yoga sanskrit dictionary, with over 3,500 yoga terms, see our publication entitled The Language of Yoga.

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Conscious mind; thought; the mental vehicle


from the roots Man, which means “mind”, and Tra, which means “tool”; Lit. “a tool of the mind”; a Divinely charged sound; verbal or non-verbal utterances which unite the sub-consciousness, consciousness, and super-consciousness; 3 forms of mantra: Likhita (written form, in silence, while concentrating inwardly on the meaning of the mantra), Vajikha (spoken or chanted), Manacikha/Ajapa (internal or mental).




liberation; the complete freedom from the human sense of limitation, incompleteness, inadequacy.


gesture; seal; from the root Mud, which means “to commune; to bring together; to bring pleasure to”; Lit. “joining (of the Lower Self with the Higher Self)”; though these are mainly thought of as specific hand positions, they can take form using many body parts and positions.


liberation; freedom from the bonds of Karma, and hence, the cycle of birth and re-birth; Sadyo Mukti – instant liberation; Krama Mukti – gradual liberation

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channel; river; Prana Nadi – refers to channels of subtle energy (Prana) flow within the Pranamaya Kosha.


ethical observances; the second of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of Yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga); the cultivation of certain higher qualities, a process which leads to the dissociation from that which is not the “True Self.”

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Pancha Klesha

the “five hindrances” to spiritual growth: Avidya (ignorance), Asmita (egoism), Abhinivesha (clinging to life), Raga (cravings), Dwesha (aversions); also considered the “five roots” of all problems of human existence; the motivating factors which drive humans to act in such ways as to produce and perpetuate Karma.

Pancha Kosha

the “five bodies,” or discernible “aspects” of man, arranged successively from the grosser to the increasingly more subtle. They are Annamayakosha (the physical tissues or the cellular structure), the Pranamayakosha (the ‘energy sheath’), the Manomayakosha (mental sheath), Vijnanamayakosha (the sheath of higher intellect), and the Anandamayakosha (the body of ‘Cosmic Consciousness’).


bile; one of the three biological humors in Ayurveda.


a method of action; a technique

Prana Nadi

(see Nadi)


the cosmic sound “AUM”; considered to be the “Mantra of Mantras”; from the roots Pra (pre), and Nava (new); Lit. “that which existed before anything (that is new)”, or “that which existed before existence itself”; according to the Nada Bindu Upanishad, it consists of 3 ½ measures: one for each of the Bijas (Aa, Uu and Mm), with the additional half-measure as the ending “nasalized” echo sound of the “Mm”.


the practice of breath control as a conscious attempt to stabilize the flows of Prana and Apana (whose dynamic movements are intimately linked to the breath), and bring them into a state of “polarity” or “harmonious interaction”; the fourth of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga) Pratyahara withdrawal of the senses; the fifth of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of Yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga)


withdrawal of the senses; the fifth of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of Yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga)

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craving; attraction and attachment to experiences and objects of the material world; exterior attachments; passion; desire, emotions/feelings; one of the Pancha Kleshas (five “hindrances” to spiritual growth).


one of the three Gunas (qualities) that comprise the manifest universe; characteristics: active; lightness; energetic; constantly mobile; ambitious; propelled by desire for dominance and power.


tongue; the organ of taste.


Lit, “seer”; one who sees; the great sages of ancient India who, in deep states of meditation (communion with the cosmos), and through spiritual experimentation, discovered the underlying, fundamental truths of the Universe, and whose teachings formed the basis for the spiritual culture of the ancient Vedic civilization.


form; shape; appearance; sight; vision

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spiritual aspirant; seeker of the highest truth; student on the spiritual path.


same; equal; tranquility; mental calmness; equanimity


super consciousness; complete absorption into the absolute, Universal Consciousness; the separation of Manas (mind) from the body, and its union with the Paramatma (Universal Consciousness, God); the complete “forgetting” of the “small self” (Jivatman) and mergence with the unchanging “higher self” (Paramatma) The eighth of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of Yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga).


patterned or conditioned behaviours; subconscious tendencies; worldly life.

Samyama Yoga

that aspect of yoga comprised of the Antarangas, the final three stages of Patangali’s Ashtanga Yoga: Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.


A committed resolution, definite intention, or desire of the will. A thought or idea based on interested motives, generally for one’s betterment. =”history-of-yoga.html#sanghas”>Sangha divine fellowship; spiritual community.


Lit. “composed, refined, made perfect”; the sacred and literary language of ancient India.


from the roots Sat (truth) and Sangha (spiritual community); Lit. “in the company of saints and sages (truth bearers)”; refers to a gathering in which teachings are imparted by a Guru or spiritual master.


one of the three Gunas (qualities) that comprise the manifest universe. Its characteristics are quietness; calmness; peacefulness; cleanliness.


service; action performed out of pure appreciation, love and gratitude.


Lit. “power”; Kriya Shakti – power of action; Jnana Shakti – power of wisdom; Iccha Shakti – power of the will


Lit. “that which commands and teaches”; the authoritative text (for a particular science, art, philosophy, etc); spiritual scripture.

Shat Karma Kriyas

the six purification actions: Dhauti, Vasti, Neti, Trataka, Nauli, Kapalabhati.


feeling at ease; pleasant; relaxed; comfortable

Surya Namaskara

Lit. “salutation to the sun”; a dynamic kriya in Hatha Yoga which evolved from the vedic ritualistic worship of the sun. The practice, which is comprised of between 11 and 14 different positions, is derived from the traditional early morning ablutions of the Hindu Brahman (priest). There are 17 or more variation of the surya namaskara kriya commonly practiced.

Sushumna Nadi

the central channel, or nadi, in the subtle body (Pranamaya Kosha), along which the Chakras are located. It corresponds to the space occupied by the spinal chord in the physical body (Annamayakosha).

Svadhisthana Chakra

the second of the seven primary Chakras; from the root Sva, which means “self”. Lit. “the location of the self”, or “the lotus of one’s own abode”; associated with Apas, the “water” element; physically related to the pelvic region and associated with the hypogastric/pelvic plexus and the adrenal glands.

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one of the three Gunas (qualities) that comprise the manifest universe; the inert state; characteristics are dullness; inertia; laziness; immobility; darkness.


rudimentary element; subtle elements; pancha tanmatra are the five root energies of smell, taste, sight, touch, and hearing.

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the scriptures of Vedanta; texts dealing with the ultimate truths and its realization, as expounded in the Vedas. They are 108 in number, with 10 regarded as the principle Upanishads.

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air; one of the three biological humors in Ayurveda.


Lit. “the end of the Vedas”; one of the Shat Darshan (six schools of spirituality in India); the philosophy of absolute monoism, reflected in the study of the philosophy and science contained within the Vedas, the Brahma Sutras, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita.


the collective name for the sacred scriptures (or collection of hymns) of ancient India, which form the foundation of Hinduism. They are four in number: Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda.


of or pertaining to the Vedas, or Vedic period (4,000 – 6,000 BCE).

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ethical restraints; the first of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of Yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga).


from the roots Yan, which means “change”, and Tra, which means “tool”; Lit. “a tool of (for) change”; the esoteric science of number, name and form; complex geometrical form used for meditation.

Yoga Drishthi

drishthi means “sight,” or to “see”; Yoga Drishthi is the yogic view; perception according to the yogic way of understanding or viewing reality.

Yoga Sutras

the classic yogic text of Ashtanga Yoga, written by sage Patanjali. It consists of 196 aphorism, outlining the 8 stages of yoga (Ashtanga Yoga).

Yoga Vidya

the science of yoga; yogic knowledge.

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