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



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


a preceptor; a spiritual teacher, guide or leader.


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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


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.”


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.


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

Return to Yoga Glossary Index



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).


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


to bind; restrict; lock; to hold together


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.


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


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


psychic aperture at the crown of the head


higher intellect; the seat of wisdom and understanding in man

Return to Yoga Glossary Index



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.


student; pupil; disciple of a Guru.


the storehouse of memories and experiences; the unconscious (subconscious) part of mind, filled with Samskaras (conditioned thoughts, repeated actions, habits, instincts, etc); mind stuff.
Return to Yoga Glossary Index



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


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


God; celestial being.


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).


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.


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


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




aversion; repulsion to objects (or persons) of the material world; one of the Pancha Kleshas (five “hindrances” to spiritual growth)
Return to Yoga Glossary Index


Return to Yoga Glossary Index


Return to Yoga Glossary Index



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.


refers to the teacher-student relationship.


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.

Return to Yoga Glossary Index


Return to Yoga Glossary Index



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.

Return to Yoga Glossary Index



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


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.


knowledge; wisdom

Jnana Yoga Kriyas

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

Return to Yoga Glossary Index


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.


one of biological humors in Ayurveda; phlegm.


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).


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


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.


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.
Return to Yoga Glossary Index

The Yoga Worm
A Comprehensive Online Yoga-Sanskrit Dictionary