Yoga Glossary





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

Yoga Dictionary Index

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N

O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z



[A]

Abhinivesha

clinging to life; the instinctive urge for survival at all costs; one of the Pancha Klesha (five “hindrances” to spiritual growth).

Acharya

a preceptor; a spiritual teacher, guide or leader.

Adhi

the highest; more subtle; sometimes refers to the mind.

Adhikarin

one who is considered fit to receive the teachings of yoga and capable of walking the spiritual path.

Advaita

non-duality; oneness; the teaching that there is only “one reality” commonly referred to as atma or Brahman – as found in the Upanishads; see also Vedanta.

Anahata Chakra

the fourth of the seven primary Chakras; Lit. “the centre (lotus) of unstruck sound”; it is associated with Vayu, the “air” element; physically related to the heart region and associated with the cardiac plexus and the thymus glands.

Ananda

Ineffable bliss; an unshakable joy; a feeling of contentment and well-being which results from the experience of the ultimate reality of Advaita, or oneness.

Antaranga

denotes the “internal aspects” of yoga; from the roots: Antara, meaning “inner” and Anga, meaning “limb”; in Patanjali’s Classical Ashtanga Yoga system, it refers to the final three “limbs” of Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi.

Apana

one of the type major forms of “Universal Energy” (along with Prana) that sustain the human organism; the lunar energy, whose primary characteristics are cooling, silvery, reflective, inhibiting and feminine.

Aprakasha Bindu

the respiratory centre (medulla oblongata) situated in the pons and medulla of the human brainstem; it governs autonomic breathing.

Asana

from the root Asi, which means “to be”; Lit. “a state of being”; refers to the physical poses or postures of Hatha Yoga; the third of sage Patanjali’s “eight limbs of yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga).

Ashram

a hermitage; the home or communal dwelling where spiritual teachings were imparted by a guru to his students. Chatus Ashrama (ashrama dharma): The four stages of life in the Vedic tradition, including brahmacari (student/disciple), grhastha (householder), vanaprastha (forest dweller), and sannyasi (renunciate).

Ashtanga Yoga

The eight-limbs of yoga, as codified by maharishi Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras; consists of: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.

Asmita

egoism; the false sense of the individual “I”; one of the Pancha Kleshas (five “hindrances” to spiritual growth)

Atman

the indwelling “Self”; the transcendental, eternal soul; the true nature or identity of man – the innermost essence, which is identical with Brahman (God); also referred to as “param-atman.”

Avidya

ignorance; mistaking the false for the true, or vice versa; one of the Pancha Kleshas (five “hindrances” to spiritual growth); said to be the “mother klesha” from which all others spring forth; the root cause of all suffering.

Ayurveda

one of India’s two traditional systems of medicine (the other is the siddha medical system of South India).

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[B]


Bahiranga

from the roots Bahihi, meaning “outer”, and Anga, meaning “limb”; the “externalized” aspects, or “outer limbs” of yoga; in Patanjali’s Classical Ashtanga Yoga system, this refers to the first five “limbs” of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, and Pratyahara.

Bhagavad Gita

the most famous scripture of Indian history. Embedded within the great Indian epic, Mahabharata, it is the conversation between Lord Krishna and Prince Arjuna, which took place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra before the commencement of the great battle. It is comprised of eighteen chapters, wherein Lord Krishna instructs the warrior prince on the proper yogic attitude to take towards every human crisis. Within these teachings are explanations on karma yoga (selfless action), Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Jnana Yoga (knowledge/wisdom) and Sannyasa Yoga (renunciation), along with the principles of Transcendental Mind (Vijnana Yoga), devotional service to the Absolute (Taraka-Brahma Yoga), the principles of meditation (Dhyana Yoga), and the principles of the Divine Manifestation and its extensions (Vibhuti Yoga).

Bhajan

devotional music (song); hymns in praise of the Divine.

Bandha

to bind; restrict; lock; to hold together

Bhakti

devotion; from the root Bhaj, which means “to be attached to God”; Lit. “Attachment to the worship of God”; signifies a supreme love of God, and is displayed as the flow of uninterrupted thoughts toward the Divine. Bhakti Yoga is the spiritual discipline of “love and devotion” as a means for evolution, as expounded , for instance, in the Bhagavad Gita and other scriptures; the seminal work on Bhakti Yoga is the Naradha Bhakti Sutras, by Veda Vyasa.

Bija

seed sound; source; a “single unit” sound that has infinite potential.

Brahman

the absolute reality; the supreme, indivisible, infinite, all-pervading, eternal existence; cosmic consciousness; God.

Brahmarandhra

psychic aperture at the crown of the head

Buddhi

higher intellect; the seat of wisdom and understanding in man

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[C]


Chakra

Lit: “wheel”; the psycho-energetic centers of the subtle body known as the Pranamayakosha; in yoga there are considered to be twelve major chakras, six higher, and six lower. However, the six higher chakras are typically group as one. Thus seven chakras are commonly spoken of. They are Muladhara Chakra at the base of the spine, Svadhishstana Chakra at the genitals, Manipura Chakra at the navel, Anahata Chakra at the heart, Vishuddha Chakra at the throat, Ajna Chakra the forehead, and Sahasrara Chakra (comprised of the six higher chakras) at the top of the head.

Chela

student; pupil; disciple of a Guru.

Chitta

the storehouse of memories and experiences; the unconscious (subconscious) part of mind, filled with Samskaras (conditioned thoughts, repeated actions, habits, instincts, etc); mind stuff.
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[D]


Dakshina

donation; offering of gratitude to the Guru (also known as Guru Dakshina); right (side); southern; auspicious.

Darshan

holy sight or vision; reverent vision or view (of a Guru, idol, etc).

Deva

God; celestial being.

Dharana

from the root Dhar, which means to “bind together”, “to make stable”; Lit. “that which gives stability”; the wilful act of concentration of the mind; the sixth of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga).

Dharma

from the root Dhar, which means “stability, sturdiness”; cosmic laws/principles; the law(s) of nature; that which upholds the Universe; implies the proper action, right use of everything.

Dhyana

meditation; the seventh of Patanjali’s “eight limbs of Yoga” (Ashtanga Yoga); mystic absorption.

Dosha

in Ayurveda, refers to the three biological humors, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha; defect; fault; impediment

Dvaitam

duality.

Dvesha

aversion; repulsion to objects (or persons) of the material world; one of the Pancha Kleshas (five “hindrances” to spiritual growth)
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[E]


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[F]


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[G]


Guru

the syllable Gu signifies “light”, and the Ru signifies “the destroyer of darkness”; Lit. “the light that destroys darkness”; one who leads from darkness into the light; the dispeller (destroyer) of darkness (ignorance); The illuminator: one who brings (the light of) wisdom.

Guru-Chela

refers to the teacher-student relationship.

Gurukula

Lit. “the womb of the Guru; the home/hermitage of the guru where students lived while being guided along the spiritual path under the watchful eye of the master.

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[H]


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[I]


Indra

chief of the Devaloka (Godly realm); the lord of the senses; the mind or soul Inner yoga-s (see Antaranga Yoga).

Ishvara Pranidhana

surrender to the will of the Supreme (God); one of the Pancha Niyamas (ethical observances), in Sage Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.

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[J]


Jatti

Lit. “a small unit of movement for a specific purpose”; simple (body) movements.

Jiva

a.k.a. “Jivatman” or “Atman”; the soul; the individual self; the individuated consciousness.

Jivan Mukti

the state of liberation while still in bodily, human form; an adept who has attained liberation (Moksha) while still embodied is known as Jivan Mukta.

Jnana

knowledge; wisdom

Jnana Yoga Kriyas

a class of yoga practices for deep relaxation, which belong to the branch of yoga called Jnana Yoga.

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[K]


Kali Yuga

the last of the four Yugas, or ages, which began in 3102 BC with the death of Lord Krishna. It is characterized as a time of “darkness” in which mankind has sunk to its lowest level of consciousness.

Kapha

one of biological humors in Ayurveda; phlegm.

Karma

from the roots Kar, meaning “action”, and Ma, meaning “my”; Lit. “my action”; three categories of karma are: Adhyatmika (That which comes form the self), Adhibhautika (that which arises from the world outside the self), and Adhidaivika (that which results from birth circumstances); karma is of three types: Prarubdha (from birth), Kriyamana (that which we consciously create), and Sanchita (that which we unconsciously create – through ignorance).

Klesha

hindrance (to spiritual evolution/progress); Lit. “knot of the heart”, or “impurities of the heart,” which hinder spiritual growth and higher realizations.

Kriya

a physical action such as seen in Basti, Neti and Nauli. The intent is a cleansing effect of one sort or another via the movement of blood, nervous energy, lymph or subtle Prana; a preparatory practice.

Kundalini

a potent energy that lies in “3 ½ coils” at the base of the spine (the Kanda). This energy is the essence of all the functions of “consciousness” in man, and all that enlivens the human life is a function of kundalini energy.
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A Comprehensive Online Yoga-Sanskrit Dictionary