Gain More Insight Into Yoga By Understanding The Terms

Gain More Insight Into Yoga By Understanding The Terms

As you continue on your journey of discovery in yoga, you’ve no doubt probably come across a few terms that are unfamiliar to you, either from your yoga instructor, classmates or in books and magazines you might have read on the subject.  Some terms might refer to yoga moves or poses, or they may refer to concepts particular to yoga.

If the terms seem strange to you, don’t worry.  Like many activities, yoga has its own set of terms unique to the practice that become familiar to yoga enthusiasts as the years go on.  Many of the terms (if not all) are Hindu in origin and might be difficult to grasp (or even pronounce) at first.  But the deeper one gets into the practice of yoga, the words will become familiar and relevant.

Below are a few terms related to the practice of yoga that you might find helpful.  This list is, of course, in no ways a complete one, but it might provide a useful overview of the concepts of yoga.

Abhyasa simply means “practice”, as in the regular and constant spiritual practice of yoga.

Acarlya refers to a instructor or guide, primarily one in religious areas, but it is also used in yoga.

Ananda is the state of bliss and ultimate joy.  It is named after one of the most famous and devout followers of the Buddha.

Asana is the name of the actual poses in yoga, which are designed to promote a sense of well being and harmony of the mind and body.  There are numerous asanas that promote different types of flexibility or mental relaxation.

Ayurveda is an Indian study of medicine that  has a long tradition.  While it has many practitioners around the world, it is considered an “alternative medicine” by many Western doctors.

Bhakti Yoga, or the “yoga of devotion”, is a major branch of yoga that focuses on forming a devotion to a personal form of God.  Within Bhakti, there are three schools: Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism.

Bodhi means “awakening” or “enlightenment” and is the state of the awakened Buddha.

Buddah is a title presented to someone who attains enlightenment and inner peace.  Is it the honorary title of the founder of Buddhism, Gautama.

Chakra, which means “wheel”, refers to the various psycho-energy areas on the body.  Buddhism yoga maintains there are five chakras on the human body, while Hindu yoga practitioners believe there may be seven or more.

Diksha is the initiation process that gives insight into the hidden aspects of yoga, which may include being given a mantra by a guru of Hinduism, Buddhism or Jaimism.


Goraksha was the founder and first teacher of hatha yoga.  Today, the term also refers to someone who has reached the upper levels of yoga and mastered the more challenging poses and movements.

Guru is an advisory and spiritual teacher.

Guru-Yoga is the yoga theory that positions the guru as  the center of a yoga student’s learning process.

Hatha Yoga is one of the major branches of yoga that is highlighted by its combination of poses, body cleansing practices and breathing exercises.

Ishvara-pranidhana teaches practitioners to focus on restraint, self-control and dedication to their spiritual side.

Jnana-Yoga is the branch of yoga concerned with wisdom and knowledge.  Jnana-yoga focuses on four paths: developing a discriminating mind, the ability to remain dispassionate when necessary, virtue and freedom from the limits of the earth.

Kaivalya refers to the ultimate goal of yoga: to be free of material constraints and possess the ability to remained “isolated” from them.  People in a kaivalya state are aware of everything around them but have the ability to stand apart from it.

Karma is the belief that any action of any kind will have a subsequent effect on a life.  It is describes the entire cycle of cause and effect in life.

Krishna is the human incarnation of the god Vishnu and whose teaching form the practices of Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavata-Purana.

Kumbhaka is a breathing exercise in which the lungs are filled with air.  The practice is generally done while meditating or chanting.

Kundalini-shakti is the lowest psycho-energy center (or chakra) on the body and is regarded as the key to full enlightenment.  To employ the kundalini-shakti, it must be awakened and guided upward to the center of the crown of the head.

Laya Yoga is a Tantric yoga practice whereby the energy contained in several psycho-energy (chakra) centers is slowly dissolved.

Mandala is a circular design that is created as a representation of the cosmos  and is often used in meditation techniques.

Mantra means a sound or phrase that is sacred and has the power to induce a meditative state when chanted.  Mantras can be sounds or phrases such  as “om” or “hum”.  They are usually given to a student before undergoing a disksha.

Mantra-Yoga is yoga where a mantra is the primary means of meditation and path to enlightenment.

Marman is the area on the body where much of the physical energy is either concentrated or compressed and blocked.

Nada is a sound contained within the body that practitioners of nata or kundalini yoga say is heard during meditation.  Nada is the key to meditation and concentration.

Nyasa is the ability to fill certain areas of the body with the “life force” simply by touching or thinking about the areas.

Om is considered the original mantra and is symbolic of the “ultimate reality”.

Prana is the “life force” or “life breath” that yoga practitioners believe exists in all life on earth.

Prasada refers to a state of mental clarity and pure grace that is reached through meditation.

Recaka is a term uses in connection with meditative breathing and refers to the exhalation of breath and the control of the breath.

Samadhi refers to the unity of mind and body through meditation.  It is the highest level of meditation where the waking, dreaming and sleeping mind are all one.

Samatva refers to balance and harmony in the mind.

Sat refers to the “ultimate reality”.

Siddhi is somewhat related to Sat in that it refers to spiritual perfection and reaching a state of ultimate reality.

Sushumna-nadi is the central life force area in the human body.  It begins at the base of the spine and extends to the crows of the head.

Turiyais the higher state of consciousness that is far beyond the regular states of consciousness such as sleeping, waking and dreaming.  It is often described as the spirit engaging in the human experience and is the object of much meditation.

Upaya refers to the practice of compassion in Buddhist yoga teachings.

Veerasana, additionally referred to as the “hero’s pose”, is regarded as an essential pose for concentration and discriminative thinking.

Yoga is the practice that seeks to bring harmony in the body and mind, as well as individual and universal harmony.  It unites opposing states within the body to reach a higher state of awareness.

WoYoPracMo is an abbreviation for World Yoga Practice Month in which yoga practitioners both new and old promise to practice yoga every day for a month.  Many yoga studios offer special rates and sessions during this month and yoga practitioners help each other with motivation and support.

Linda Adams really loves all things that have to do with health.

One of the very best yoga blogs Linda has found is Kamloops Yoga Instructors, which is a distinctive combination of yoga and exercise.

You can also have a look at Having Trouble Sleeping? Try Yoga! regarding yoga and health related activities.

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