Hermitage-usually a yoga centre, a retreat, where the principles of
yoga are taught and practiced.
Asht-“eight” and anga-“limb”. The eight branches
into which the sage Patanjali divided Yoga. Asthanga Yoga leads to mastery
of the mind and to yoga final goal, the Kaivalya-“Absoluteness”,
in which the yogi realizes the Truth.
“Postures”. Physical movements improving one's posture,
preparing the body for sitting in meditation, and allowing the free
flow of energy. These postures keep the body strong, flexible, and relaxed.
In yoga all posture names end with the word asana. For example, the
word Dandasana, the staff posture, comes from danda-“bamboo staff”-,
which is the symbol of the spinal column.
From Ayu-“life” and Veda-“knowledge”. Ayurveda
science is grounded in the Vedas, which date back to 3000 B.C, and still
is the traditional natural medicine of India.
Indian version of our Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita is a part of the Mahabharata
epic. The Bhagavad-Gita tells the story of Krishna and his disciple
Internal body locks where certain parts of the body and organs are contracted
and controlled. Bandhas assist the practitioner not only in retaining
a pose but also in moving in and out of it. Bandas prevent the dissipation
of prana (energy).
The three main bandhas are:
Jalandhara bandha, throat lock, is achieved by lowering the chin slightly
while raising the sternum and the palate bringing the gaze to the tip
of the nose. It should be the first bandha to be mastered as it is also
performed during pranayama.
The udiyana bandha is a grip of the muscles of the lower abdominal area.
Litterally meaning flying up, it is in fact the lift of the diaphragm
that is pulling the abdominal organs back and up toward the spine. This
bandha is considered the most important bandha as it supports our breathing
and encourages the development of strong core muscles.
The mula bandha, or root lock, is performed by tightening the muscles
around the pelvic and perineum area.
From brih-“expand”, Creator (God).
Chakras are located along the spinal column where the nadis cross each
other and is said that prana rises up through the charkas. Each chakra
contains a definite number of nadis and governs a different portion
of the body. The seven charkas are: Muladhara, Swadhisthana, Manipura,
Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna, and Sahasrara.
The three Ayurvedic constitutional body types: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata.
Drishti, or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention.
The most common is Urdhva, or upward gazing, where the eyes are lifted,
with the spine aligned from crown to tailbone. This technique is employed
in a variety of postures.
There are, in total, nine drishtis that instruct the yoga student in
directing his or her gaze. Each pose is associated with a particular
Angusta Ma Dya: to the thumb
Broomadya/Ajna Chakra: to the third eye
Nasagrai: at a point six inches from the tip of the nose
Hastagrai: to the palm, usually the extended hand
Parsva: to the right/left side
Urdhva: up to the sky, or inwards
Nabi Chakra: to the navel
Padhayoragrai: to the toes
Quality. A term that has numerous meanings, including "virtue";
often refers to any of the three primary "qualities" or constituents
of nature (prakriti): tamas (the principle of inertia), rajas (the dynamic
principle), and sattva (the principle of lucidity).
Spiritual teacher. From gu-“darkness” and ru-“that
which dispels”, the guru is the dispeller of darkness.
Hatha: to bring balance to the body. Ha-“Sun or physical side”,
balanced with Tha-“Moon or mental side”. Hatha yoga is the
path to reach Self-realization through the attainment of perfect health
of the body and control of the breath. Nowadays, Hatha has become a
very general term that encompasses many of the physical types of yoga.
Hatha yoga classes are usually slow-paced and gentle.
Iyengar yoga is probably the best known and widely practiced system
of Hatha Yoga today. Based on the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar, this type
of yoga is most concerned with postural body alignment in order to obtain
the maximum benefits from the poses. The result is improved circulation,
a light and strong body and a calm mind. Typical of this type of yoga
is also the use of props, such as yoga blankets, blocks, and belts to
help to accommodate any special needs such as injuries or structural
imbalances. Teachers of this discipline must go through an intense,
rigorous 3-year training program for certification.
From jyot-“light” and isha-“lords”, the Vedic
The Hindu God of desire. Desire is the chain that binds man to the karmic
law. This is why the material desire is considered the greatest enemy
to the happiness of man.
From kri-to do, the effects of past bad actions in this or a former
The law of Karma is the natural principle of cause and effect.
It is worth to be mentioned that the doctrine of reincarnation was part
of the Christian religion until A.D. 553 when it was declared a heresy.
The five sheaths are said to cover the self. The koshas are listed below:
Annamayakosha (Gross Body)
Pranamayakosha (Vital Air Sheath)
Manomayakosha (Mental Sheath)
Vigyanamayakosha (Intellectual Sheath)
Anandmayakosha or Karanamayakosha (Causal Sheath)
India’s greatest prophet who lived in the 3100 A.C. Krishna is
an incarnation of Vishu-“God”. He is often portrayed playing
From Kri-to do, to act.
Yoga techniques that allow men to achieve identity with cosmic consciousness
and to free themselves from the law of Karma. Kriya yoga teaches the
yogi to control the mind directly through the life force.
“coiling like a snake”. Yoga techniques designed to awaken
and control the release of psychic energy.
Literally “instrument of thought”. Sacred chant which has
a spiritually beneficial power. Today the meaning has enlarged to include
any use of sound coming from the repetition of a word or a phrase to
influence the consciousness.
It is a symbol, usually a gesture of the fingers and the hands.
Refers to the 72,000 nerve passages in the body and their relationships
with the mind. Located in special areas of the body, these energy channels
are similar to the meridians in acupuncture.
There are three major energy channels in the body: Sushumma (which carry
the Kundalini energy up the spine), Pingala and Ida (which carry the
solar and lunar energy respectively).
Literally “the divine in me honors the divine in you.” The
traditional Indian salutation done by pressing the hands together near
the heart and the head bowed.
A technique of purification of the nasal passage.
From Aum, the three letters are to symbolize the divine Trinity. Om
is the creative vibration of light that is heard during meditation.
The Om word is interpreted as having three sounds representing creation,
preservation, and destruction.
Lotus - the water lily of India. This plant gives fruits and flowers
simultaneously and possesses an amazing ability to flourish in a variety
of environments ranging from clear ponds to muddy marshes. Growing from
the mud at the bottom of ponds and streams, the lotus flower rises above
the water and is usually white or pink with 15 or more oval, spreading
petals. The lotus flower is an ancient divine symbol in India: it is
a spiritual symbol for the evolution of the human soul and his enlightenment.
The founder of yoga philosophy. Believed to have lived some time between
500-200 B.C., the ancient sage is the author of Yoga Sutras.
The Yoga Sutras forms one of the six Vedic systems of Indian philosophy.
To know more about Asthanga Yoga, the eight branches of yoga of Patanjali,
go to yoga philosophy.
The cosmic energy that animates everything. Prana is also breath, the
life force sustaining the body and connecting the mind to the senses.
The Chinese call this life force chi. There are five pranas or vital
currents in the Hindu system : Prana, Apana, Vyana, Udana and Samana.
The pranas constitute the second sheath (kosha) of a human being (who
is essentially the Atman or the Self).
Prana is vital energy, and ayama is control and extension of the pranic
The science of breath control. The breath binds the soul to the body.
By learning how to control the flow of energy into the body, we bring
freedom to our soul.
The sages who were the authors of the Vedas.
From sat-“truth” and sanga-“association”. A
gathering for the purpose of chanting, meditation, and listening to
Literally “direct together”. The union of the individual
soul with the Cosmic Spirit.
The mother of all Indo-European languages. Predating Greek and Latin,
Sanskrit is considered to be one of the oldest languages on Earth. The
word "sanskrit” itself translates into perfected, polished,
or refined. In fact, its alphabet called Devanagari consists of fifty
letters, each with a distinctive sound in order to prevent any mispronunciations.
“Perfected being”. He who has evolved from the state of
a jivanmukta-“freed while living”- to the state of a paramukta-“supremely
free”, full power over death. The paramukta is free from any debt
to Nature and rarely returns to a physical body. If he does, he is an
Avatar-“Incarnation”. Ancient Indian Avatars were Krishna,
Rama, Buddha, and Patanjali.
Sun salutations (a series of yoga postures honoring the sun).
Literally “thread”. A book of aphorisms like the Yoga Sutras.
From swa-“self”, “he who is one with his Self”.
A Hindu monk.
Expansion of all levels of consciousness. The main goal of tantra yoga
is the worship of Shakti, the dynamic aspect of Cosmic Mother. According
to tantra, desire-kama- is the motivating force of the universe.
Short summaries of the Vedas. Also called Vedanta-the end of the Vedas.
Steady flow of connected yoga postures linked with breath work in a
continuous movement. For example: sun salutation.
From Vid-“to know”. According to Indian philosophy, God
revealed these 100,000 couplets of chants to the rishis. The Brahmin
priests handed the Vedas orally down generation after generation.
There are four Vedas: Sama, Rig, Yajur, and Atharva.
From yuj-“union”. The goal of yoga is to discipline the
body and to calm the mind to achieve the freedom of the soul. Many people
think that yoga is stretching. But while stretching is certainly involved,
yoga is really about creating balance in the body through developing
both strength and flexibility. Movements and postures are done in a
certain sequence to create heat in the body and increase stamina.
Practitioner of Yoga