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Glossary of Terms

  1. Antara Kumbhaka- Inhale with retention.
  2. Asana- The literal translation of this word is “seat.” Taking a seat connects you to the Earth and all manifestations of reality. Asanas are the physical poses we practice in class.
  3. AUM- The first mover. The first and the only sound. The sound of the vibrating universe. The latin word “omne” and the Sanskrit word “AUM” are both derived from the same root meaning. Both words convey concepts of omniscience. “A” represents the waking state. “U” represents the dream state and “M” represents the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit. The entire symbol with the crescent and the dot, which combines all of these states and transcends samadhi. The letters A, U, and M represents speech or (vak), the mind or (manas), and the breath of life or (prana). The entire symbol stands for the living spirit, which is a portion of the universal spirit.
  4. Ayurveda- The science of self-healing. Ayurveda is known as the sister science of yoga. It is based on the balance of the five elements, which is further simplified into the three doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha.
  5. Bahya Kumbhaka- Exhale with retention
  6. Bandhas- A series of internal energy gates within the subtle body, which control pranic flow. Bandhas are energetic concepts, not physical. The breath and the bandhas have a symbiotic relationship.
    • Mula Bandha-In Sanskrit it is defined as “root.”  It is a contraction of the Pubo-Coccygeal muscles or an energetic narrowing of the distance in between the pubic bone, coccyx and the two sitting bones. In layman’s terms is a lift of lower belly to navel. It awakens the latent energy at the base of the spine and moves it upward toward more enlightened portions of the body.
    • Udiyana Bandha (as used in asana practice)- In Sanskrit it is defined as “flying upward.”  It is a contraction of the transverse abdominis muscle which runs horizontally across the abdomen and is used to draw the abdominal contents in against the spine. In layman’s terms it is drawing the navel in towards the spine and up towards the sternum. It facilitates the function of the diaphragm and is directly related to the psoas, which is the bridge between upper and lower body, and serves as the center of gravity in our practice.  Like Mula Bandha, Udiyana continues to lift energy up the sushumna towards more enlightened portions of the body. Udiyana helps with digestion, cleansing internal organs, and cures blockages in manipura chakra.
    • Jalandhara Bandha- In Sanskrit Jala means “net” andhara means “bearing or supporting.” It requires the chin to rest comfortably on the sternum creating neck flexion. The chin should be met halfway by the elevated sternum. Jalandhara Bandha compresses the carotid arties and massages the glands in the throat. Like a net this bandha is meant to catch amrita, the immortal elixir, and to stop it from escaping downwards into the body. It is symbolic for directing consciousness towards higher principals, controlling thought and speech, and ultimately not allowing negative thoughts to poison the body.
  7. Chakra- In Sanskrit, chakra is defined as “wheel.” Chakras are seven focal points of radiant power and vital energy within the subtle body. They are centered around the base of your spine, lower abdominal region, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown of the head. These energetic centers are approximate to nerve plexuses in the physical body.
    • Muladhara- Root support. Located at the base of the spine. Color- Red. Element- Earth. Center of physical stability.
    • Swadhisthana- One’s own dwelling place. Located at the sacral region.  Color- Orange. Element- Water. Seat of emotional stability and creativity.
    • Manipura- City of shining jewels. Located at the solar plexus. Color- Yellow. Element- Fire.  Your body’s stronghold. The seat of willpower and self-esteem. Holds the power of transformation.
    • Anahata- Unstruck. Located at the heart. Color- Green. Element- Air. Seat of unconditional love and compassion.
    • Vishuddha- The pure place. Located at the throat. Color- Blue. Element- Ether. The seat of your sense of truth and spiritual voice.
    • Ajna- The summoning. Located at the third eye. Color- White. Element- Light. The seat of your intuitive wisdom.
    • Sahasrara- Thousand petal lotus. Located at the crown of the head. Color- Purple. Element- Beyond the elements. The seat of timeless existence and the gateway to the universal self.
  8. Drishti- Gaze. Every pose has a gazing point. We use drishti to keep the mind focused during our practice. Your drishti should always follow your nose depending on the shape of the movement.
  9. Granthis- Physic knots inside the body.
    • Brahma Granthi- Represents our attachment to material things. It is located at the base of the spine and can be pierced by engaging Mula Bandha.
    • Vishnu Granthi- Represents our attachment to people. It is located in and around the navel area and can be pierced by engaging Udiyana Bandha.
    • Rudra Granthi- Represents attachment to our siddhis (physic powers) and intuition. It is located in the throat and can be pierced by engaging Jalandhara Bandh
  10. Gunas- The three different kinds of activities in the universe.
    • Rajas- Anything dictated by passion, activity, and mobility.
    • Tamas- Anything dictated by lethargy, inertia, ignorance, restraint.
    • Sattva- Anything perfect, pure, and illuminating.
  11. The Five Koshas- The five coverings of the Atman according to Vedantic philosophy
    • Annamaya Kosha- Food sheath.
    • Pranamaya Kosha- Vital air sheath.
    • Manamaya Kosha- Mind sheath.
    • Vijnanamaya Kosha- Wisdom and mind sheath.
    • Anandamaya Kosha- Bliss sheath.
  12. Mudra- An energetic seal. A mystic position of the hands, however, there are eye positions, body postures, and breathing techniques that are called mudras as well.
  13. Nadi- An energy channel. Nadis are a network of energy channels that exist throughout the body and carry prana. We have anywhere from 72,000 or possibly 300,000 of them according to different historical texts.
  14. Prana- The universal life force energy that animates and unites all living beings.
  15. Pranayama- Prana means life force.  Ayama means extending or stretching. In our context it means extension of the breath.
  16. The 5 Winds of the Prana- Movements or functions of prana known as vayus or winds.
    • Prana. Area of the body- Chest and head. Function- Governs intake, inspiration, propulsion, forward momentum.
    • Apana. Area of the body- Pelvis. Function- Governs elimination, downward and outward movement. *When we engage the abdominal locks, we lift apanic energy towards pranic energy, meeting at Samana. It is said this union creates a window to divine consciousness.
    • Samana. Area of the body- Navel. Function- Governs assimilation, discernment, inner absorption, and consolidation.
    • Udana. Area of the body- Throat. Function- Governs growth, speech, expression, ascension, upward movement.
    • Vyana. Area of the body- Whole body. Function- Governs circulation on all levels, expansiveness, pervasiveness.
  17. Vinyasa – In Sanskrit, “vi” denotes in a special way and “yasa” means to place. It is the interconnection of breath and movement. Evenness of breath and evenness of movement creates an even state of mind.
  18. Yoga- Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj” which means to “yoke, join, or connect.”
  19. Yoga Chikitsa- Primary series of Ashtanga Yoga. It is defined as yoga therapy.
  20. Nadi Shodhana- Second series of Ashtanga Yoga. Defined as nerve cleansing.
  21. Sthira Bhaga- Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth series Ashtanga Yoga. Defined as strength and grace.