abhinivesha Survival instinct.
ananda-maya-kosha The bliss sheath and fifth sheath of existence.
anna-maya-kosha The physical body and first sheath of existence.
apana A type of prana; the vital energy of excretion that flows downward and out of the body, ridding it of impurities.
aparigraha One of the yamas; nongreed.
ardha baddha padma pashchimottanasana Bound half lotus pose; a seated forward bending pose.
ardha baddha padmottanasana Standing half bound lotus pose; an advanced balancing pose.
asanas The postures, or exercises, of yoga designed to help you master control of your body.
asmita Ego or individuality.
asteya One of the yamas; nonstealing.
avidya Incorrect comprehension.
baddha konasana The butterfly; a sitting posture.
baddha padmasana The bound lotus; a meditative pose.
bandha Literally "to bind" or "to lock," bandhas are muscular locks used during postures and breathing exercises to intensify the energy of prana so it can eliminate impurities from the body.
Bhagavad Gita One of India's most beloved and famous sacred texts, this is the epic story of Arjuna, a warrior-prince who confronts moral dilemmas and is led to a better understanding of reality through the intercession of the god Krishna.
Bhakti Yoga Sincere, heartfelt devotion to the divine is the primary focus of this type of yoga.
bhastrika Literally "bellows," bhastrika is a breathing technique that imitates the action of a bellows.
bhramari Also known as bee breath, this breathing technique imitates the sound of a bee.
bhujangasana The cobra; a backbend. brahmacharya One of the yamas; chastity or nonlust. brahman The absolute, or divinity itself. buddhi The intellect.
chakras Centers of energy that exist between the base of your spinal column and the crown of your head.
cakrasana The wheel; a backbend.
dandasana The staff; a sitting posture.
dhanurasana The bow; a backbend.
dharana Orienting the mind toward a single point.
dhyana Meditation, or the process of quieting the mind to free yourself from preconceptions and illusions.
duhkha Pain, suffering, trouble, and discomfort; a mental state during which limitations and a profound sense of dissatisfaction are perceived.
garudasana The eagle; a balance posture.
ghee Clarified butter, or butter from which all solids have been removed, leaving only the oil; a traditional Indian food.
gomukhasana The cow; a sitting posture.
gunas The three primary qualities existing in the universe—sattva, rajas, and tamas—can apply to the mind and to influences on the body, such as food.
guru Literally "dispeller of darkness," a guru is a personal spiritual advisor who helps direct the yogi toward enlightenment.
halasana The plough; an inversion.
Hatha Yoga A type of yoga primarily concerned with mastering control over the physical body as a path to enlightenment; Hatha Yoga combines opposing forces to achieve balance.
Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika A fourteenth-century, comprehensive guide to Hatha Yoga. ida A channel on the left side of the spine through which prana moves. ishvara-pranidhana One of the niyamas; centering on the divine. jalandhara bandha A bandha that locks the throat. janu shirshasana Sitting one leg; a forward bend.
japa The process of repeating a mantra over and over for the purpose of clearing the mind.
Jnana Yoga This type of yoga emphasizes questioning, meditation, and contemplation as paths to enlightenment.
Jupiter chakra Located on the spine near the genitals, this energy center involves water, sexuality, passion, the creation of life, and taste.
kali yuga The fourth of four ages (yuga means "age"), and the age in which we are now living; the shortest of all the ages, kali yuga is 432,000 years long.
kapalabhati A cleansing ritual for the respiratory tract, lungs, and sinuses; also called skull shining.
karma The law of cause and effect, or the movement toward balanced consciousness; everything you do, say, or even think has an immediate effect on the universe that will reverberate back to you in some way.
Karma Yoga Selfless action and service to others are emphasized in this type of yoga.
Kevali Kumbhaka A pranayama technique involving retaining the breath, it helps increase breath control and lung capacity.
koshas The five sheaths of existence that comprise the body.
Krishna A popular Hindu god.
Kriya Yoga The yoga of action and participation in life.
kundalini Literally "she who is coiled," kundalini is a psychospiritual energy force in the body that is often compared to a snake lying curled at the base of the spine, waiting to be awakened. When fully awakened, it is said to actually restructure the body, allowing the yogi to control previously involuntary bodily functions.
Kundalini Yoga This esoteric and mystical form of yoga is centered around awakening and employing kundalini energy.
kurmasana The tortoise; a forward bend.
mandalas Beautiful, usually circular, geometric designs that draw your eye to the center and are used as a center of focus in meditation.
mano-maya-kosha The mind sheath and third sheath of existence.
mantra A sound or sounds that resonate in the body and evoke certain energies during meditation.
Mantra Yoga The chanting of mantras characterizes this type of yoga. maricyasana The half spinal twist; a twisting pose.
Mars chakra Located on the spine behind the navel, this energy center is associated with digestion or "gastric fire," your sense of self, and physical actions.
matsyasana The fish; a backbend.
Matsyendra A Hindu sage and one of the first teachers of Hatha Yoga.
Mercury chakra Located in the throat, this energy center governs communication.
moon chakra Located behind your head at the base of your skull, the moon chakra complements the sun chakra. Energy enters the moon chakra, travels down to the Saturn chakra, then rises up and exits the sun chakra.
mudhasana Child's pose; a forward bend.
mudras Hand gestures that direct the life current through the body. mula bandha An anal lock.
murccha kumbkhaka A pranayama technique also known as third eye breathing, this exercise involves breathing with a focus on the third eye, or the area between and just above the eyebrows (the sixth chakra).
nadi shodhana A breathing exercise in which nostrils are alternated for inhalation and exhalation.
nadis Subtle vibratory passages of psychospiritual energy.
namaste mudra A mudra in which the hands are placed together in prayer-like fashion to honor the inner light.
naukasana The full boat; a balance pose.
nauli A cleansing ritual for the inner abdomen.
niyamas Five observances or personal disciplines, as defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras; the niyamas are shauca, santosha, tapas, svadhyaya, and ishvar-pranidhana.
Om A sacred syllable commonly used as a mantra during meditation and representative of the absolute or oneness of the universe; a rough approximation of the sound of the universe's vibration.
padma shirshasana The lotus headstand; an inversion.
padmasana The lotus pose, a meditative posture in which the legs are crossed and each foot is placed on the opposite thigh; the pose is said to resemble the perfection of the lotus flower.
parshvottanasana The side angle stretch; a standing posture.
pavana maktasana Also called wind relieving pose, this standing pose brings the knee to the chest, with head extended toward the knee.
pingala A channel on the right side of the spine through which prana moves.
prana A form of energy in the universe that animates all physical matter, including the human body; the vital energy of respiration and the soul of the universe.
prana-maya-kosha The vital body and second sheath of existence.
pranayama Breathing exercises designed to help you master control of your breath.
pratyahara Withdrawal of the senses.
purvottanasana The hands to feet pose; a variation of the plough; an inversion. raga Attachment.
Raja Yoga Also known as The Royal Path, this type of yoga emphasizes control of the intellect to attain enlightenment.
rajas The quality of high activity and agitation; a guna.
Rig-Veda Literally "Knowledge of Praise," the Rig-Veda consists of 1,028 hymns and is the oldest known reference to yoga, and possibly the oldest known text in the world.
samadhi The state of meditation in which ego disappears and all becomes one; a state of absolute bliss.
samyama When in a state of samyama, the yogi has investigated, concentrated on, meditated upon, and contemplated an object or subject until everything about it is known and understood.
santosha One of the niyamas; contentment. sarvangasana The shoulderstand; an inversion. sattva The quality of clarity and lightness; a guna.
Saturn chakra Located just above the anus at the base of the spine, this energy center involves elimination and your sense of smell.
satya One of the yamas; truthfulness.
setu bandha sarvangasana The bridge; an inversion.
shat kriyas Purification rituals.
shauca One of the niyamas; purity, or inner and outer cleanliness.
shavasana Also known as the corpse pose, this pose is meant to bring the body and mind into total, conscious relaxation.
shirshasana The headstand; an inversion.
shodhana Yogic cleansing rituals.
sitali A breathing technique involving rolling the tongue, then inhaling through it like a straw; a cooling technique.
sitar A stringed instrument from India, similar to a mandolin.
sthira Steadiness and alertness.
sukha Lightness and comfort.
sukhasana Easy pose; a meditative pose.
Sun chakra Located in the middle of your brow, this energy center is also known as the third eye, or center of unclouded perception.
surya namaskara Sun salutation; a vinyasa.
sushumna A hollow passageway between pingala and ida that runs through the spinal cord, and through which kundalini can travel once it is awakened.
svadhyaya One of the niyamas; the process of inquiring into your own nature, the nature of your beliefs, and the nature of the world's spiritual journey.
svamin A title of respect for a spiritual person who is master of her- or himself rather than others.
swami The Anglicized form of svamin.
Swami Vivekananda A guru from India who addressed the Parliament of Religions in 1893, and quickly became a popular figure; he was followed by a number of other swamis who came to the United States to teach and guide Westerners along the Eastern path of yoga.
tadasana The mountain; a standing posture. tamas The quality of heaviness and inactivity; a guna.
Tantra Yoga This type of yoga is characterized by certain rituals designed to awaken the kundalini.
tapas One of the niyamas; self-discipline.
thousand petaled lotus chakra Located at the crown of the skull, this energy center is the core of self-realization, perspective, unity, and enlightenment.
Transcendental Meditation Also known as TM, this form of meditation involves the mental repetition of a mantra.
trikonasana The triangle or happy pose; a standing posture. uddiyana bandha A bandha that locks the abdomen.
ujjayi A breathing exercise that produces sound in the throat with the inhalation; literally, "she who is victorious."
Upanishads Scriptures of ancient Hindu philosophy.
urdhvamukha shvanasana The upward facing dog; a backbend ustrasana The camel; a backbend.
utkatasana The lightning bolt; a standing posture.
uttanasana Standing head to knee; a forward bend.
uttanatavasana Leg lifts.
vajrasana Kneeling pose; a meditative pose.
vashisthasana The arm balance; a balance posture.
Venus chakra Located behind your heart, this energy center is the seat of your compassion.
vidya Correct understanding.
vijnana-maya-kosha The intellect sheath and fourth sheath of existence.
vinyasa A steady flow of connected yoga asanas linked with breathwork in a continuous movement; a particularly dynamic form of yoga.
virabhadrasana The warrior; a standing posture.
virasana The hero; a sitting posture.
vrikshasana The tree; a balance posture.
yamas Five abstinences that purify the body and mind, as defined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras; the yamas are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha.
yoga mudra A forward bend.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali The source of Patanjali's Eightfold Path, this collection of succinct aphorisms has largely defined the modern concept of yoga.
yogi Someone who practices yoga.
yogic An adjective describing things that are associated with yoga. yogini A female yogi.
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