Yoga Glossary

A large amount of yoga terminology is in Sanskrit. Here is an explanation of such terms that will unlock the mystery of the language of yoga.

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

Abhyasa practice - the act of practicing
Acharya teacher
Adwaita a philosophy according to which there is no duality - only a singular state of consciousness
Agni fire
Agnisar kriya one of the shatkarmas (cleansing practices) -intestinal cleansing
Aham ego
Ahimsa non-violence, non-injury - one of the yamas of ashtanga yoga
Ajapa japa spontaneous repetition of 'soham' mantra
Ajna chakra energy center located behind the forehead, also called psychic centre - one of the seven energy centers
Akasha ether, space
Anahata chakra energy center located in the heart region; also called pranic centre - fourth of the seven energy centers.
Ananda bliss, ecstasy
Antar inner, internal
Antar dhauti internal yoga cleansing (shatkarma) techniques
Antar kumbhaka internal breath retention. The stage of pranayama where breath is retained after inhalation.
Antar mouna internal silence - a meditation practice.
Anubhava experience, realization
Ardha half
Ardha dhanurasana half bow yoga pose
Ardha matsyendrasana half spinal twist yoga position
Ardha padmasana half lotus pose
Asana yoga position or yoga pose, also called yogasana. A balanced position for smooth energy flow in specific areas of the body and mind.
Ashrama residential place of people living together in yogic tradition.
Ashtanga yoga the eight fold path of yoga as outlined by Patanjali: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi
Ashwini mudra practice of contracting the anal sphincter.
Atman soul.
Aum see Om
Avidya ignorance
Bahir outside, external
Bahir kumbhaka external breath retention. The stage of pranayama where breath is retained after exhalation.
Bahiranga trataka concentrating the attention (gaze) upon an external object such as a candle flame.
Bandha a posture in which organs and muscles are contracted to create energy lock in a specific area.
Basti a colon cleansing technique (shakarma), yogic enema
Bhagvad Gita a part of the famous Hindu epic 'Mahabharata'. Teachings of Lord Krishna to his disciple Arjuna at the commencement of the battle of Kurukshetra, with explanations on sannyasa yoga, karma yoga, bhakti yoga, and jnana yoga.
Bhakti devotion
Bhakti yoga the yoga of devotion.
Bhastrika pranayama 'bellows' breathing technique in which the breath is forcibly drawn in and out through the nose in equal proportions, like the pumping action of the bellows.
Bhramari pranayama breathing practice in which a soft "humming-bee" sound is produced during exhalation to stimulate the Ajna Chakra
Bhujangasana cobra' pose.
Brahman supreme consciousness, absolute reality.
Chakra literally meaning circle or wheel, in yoga this refers to the energy centers lying along the confluence of the nadis (energy channels) 
Chandra moon
Chandra nadi ida nadi
Chidakasha psychic space in front of the closed eyes, just behind the forehead.
Chin mudra hand gesture in which the first finger is kept at the root of the thumb, the last three fingers are unfolded.
Danda stick
Danda dhauti one of the cleansing techniques (shatkarmas), used to clean the oesophagus with a stick.
Danta dhauti teeth cleansing technique
Dhanurasana bow' pose; backward bending yoga pose
Dharana practice of concentration; sixth of the eight fold path in ashtanga yoga
Dharma duty, righteous path
Dhauti second of the shatkarmas; cleansing technique of the eyes, ears, tongue, forehead, oesophagus, stomach, rectum and anus
Dhyana meditation; single-pointed focus of mind on either a form, thought or sound.
Diksha initiation given by the guru.
Dosha three humours of the body; see kapha, pitta, vata
Dugdha neti nasal irrigation or cleansing technique using milk
Ghrita neti neti (nasal cleansing technique) performed with ghee
Gomukhasana cow's face' posture
Gorakshasana Yogi Gorakhnath's' pose
Guna quality of nature viz. tamas, rajas, sattwa
Guptasana the 'secret' pose
Guru spiritually enlightened soul, who can dispel darkness, ignorance and illusion from the mind and enlighten the consciousness of a devotee/disciple
Hatha yoga science of yoga which purifies the whole physical body by means of shatkarma, asana, pranayama, mudra, bandha and concentration
Hridaya akasha psychic space of the heart centre
Ida nadi one of the main energy channels running on the left side of the spine from the mooladhara (base) chakra to the ajna chakra in the head.
Jala water
Jala basti the yoga technique of enema using water - one of the yoga shatkarma
Jala neti a shatkarma technique - cleansing of the nasal passages with water by alternating the flow of water in the nostrils, preferably using a neti pot.
Jalandhara bandha throat lock' to restrict the flow of bereath through the throat - done by resting the chin on the upper sternum (chest).
Japa continuous chanting i.e repetition of a mantra
Jihva dhauti one of the shatkarma techniques for cleansing the tongue.
Jnana knowledge, understanding, wisdom
Jnana mudra the gesture of knowledge - in this the index finger is bent so that its tip is joined with the tip of the thumb, the other three fingers are spread out.
Jnana yoga the yoga of knowledge - attained through spontaneous self-analysis and investigation of abstract and speculative ideas.
Kapal skull or cerebrum
Kapalbhati pranayama a breathing technique aimed at cleaning the frontal part of the brain; also called skull polishing - done through rapid breaths with more force on exhalation.
Karma action; the act of doing
Karma yoga the yoga of action - aims at supreme consciousness through action; discussed in Bhagavad Gita
Karna dhauti one of the shatkarma which involves cleansing the ears.
Kati chakrasana waist rotating' pose.
Kevala kumbhaka spontaneous cessation of breath without any conscious effort.
Klesha afflictions or tensions - according to yoga there are 5 such afflictions present in humans from birth
Koormasana tortoise' pose - an advanced posture.
Kosha sheath or body; realm of experience and existence.
Kriya activity, dynamic yogic practice
Kriya yoga  the practice of kundalini yoga
Kukkutasana cockerel' pose
Kumbhaka breath retention
Kundalini man's retained energy or potential energy and consciousness
Kundalini shakti refers to the human's potential energy lying dormant in mooladhara (base) chakra like a coiled serpent. When awakened it rises up through the sushumna nadi.
Kundalini yoga philosophy expounding the awakening of potential energy and inherent consciousness within the human body and mind.
Kunjal kriya a shatkarma (cleansing) technique that involves the cleansing of the stomach by drinking in water and then expelling it by inducing vomiting.
Laghoo shankhaprakshalana a shatkarma technique - also referred as the short intestinal wash. Involves the drinking of several glasses of water and the expelling it through stool after a series of exercises (asanas); in the process a thorough cleansing of the colon takes place.
Laya yoga union with the supreme consciousness through pranayama or devotion. Literally, union by absorption
Maha great 
Maha bandha the great lock - combines the three locks in yoga - the moola bandha, jalandhara bandha and uddiyana bandha - together with breath retention.
Maha mudra the great gesture - combines the practice of moola bandha, shambhavi and khechari mudras simultaneously.
Maha nadi literally means 'great nadi', which is the 'sushumna' in yoga
Makara crocodile
Makarasana crocodile' pose
Manas chakra the energy center above the ajna chakra - is depicted with six petals
Manipura chakra the energy centre in the spinal column located behind the navel - corresponding to the solar plexus.
Mantra subtle sound vibration, which through repetition aims at expanding one's awareness or consciousness.
Mantra shakti the power of mantra
Matsyendrasana a spine twisting pose
Mayur peacock
Mayurasana peacock' pose - advanced pose aims at strengthening the arms and stimulating the manipura chakra.
Moksha liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Moola root
Moola bandha energy lock created by the contraction of the perineum in the male and the cervix in the female.
Mooladhara chakra lowest energy centre in the human body where the kundalini shakti (serpent power) resides - situated in the perineal floor in men and the cervix in women.
Moorchha pranayama fainting or swooning breath' in which the breath is inhaled slowly and retained for an extended period.
Mouna silence - the practice of silence
Mudra literally means 'gesture' - mudra expresses and channelizes cosmic energy within the mind and body.
Nadi energy channels in the body, similar to the meridians in acupuncture
Nadi shodhana pranayama breathing technique - is the 'alternate nostril breathing' or 'balanced breathing' - balances the energy flow in the channels and purifies the energy channels (nadi) by balancing the flow of breath through the right and left nostrils.
Nasagra/nasikagra mudra hand gesture adopted during pranayama to alternate the flow of breath through the nostrils.
Nauli abdominal massage' - a cleansing technique (shatkarma) involving the contraction of the rectus abdominal muscles.
Neti kriya another shatkarma (cleansing technique) - involves cleaning of the nasal passages or sinus irrigation; jala neti forms a part of the various neti kriyas.
Nidra sleep
Niyama rule; there are 5 rules described in the Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali.
Om the universal mantra; cosmic vibration of the universe; represents the four states of consciousness
Pada foot; section of a literary work
Padmasana lotus pose - a seated meditative posture
Pancha makara the five tantric practices : mansa(meat), madhya(wine), matsya(fish), mudra(grain), and maithuna(sexual intercourse)
Pancha tattwa the five elements - earth, water, fire, air and ether
Param highest, supreme, God
Paramatma the supreme atma; God
Parichaya avastha stage of perception of nada
Paschimottanasana back stretching pose
Patanjali author of the Yoga Sutras and preacher of the eight-fold (ashtanga) yoga
Payaswini nadi energy channel terminating at the right big toe, between poosha and pingala channels
Pingala nadi one of the main energy channels running on the right side of the spine from the mooladhara (base) chakra to the ajna chakra in the head by intersecting various chakras on the way.
Plavini pranayama breathing technique which involves gulping air and swallowing it into the stomach and retaining it
Poornima full moon night
Prakamya fulfillment of desire
Prakasha inner light
Prakriti nature
Pramana proof
Prana vital energy force sustaining life and creation
Pranayama technique of breathing and breath control which regulates energy flow and aims at maintaining energy balance
Prasad an offering usually food to and from the guru or higher power
Pratyahara sense withdrawal; first stage of concentrating on the mind during meditation
Pravritti nature of the mind
Prithvi tattwa the earth element
Purana eighteen ancient  books consisting of legends and mythological narrations dealing with creation, recreation and the genealogies of sages and rulers
Purusha man; pure consciousness
Purushartha purpose of the consciousness, of man's existence- the four basic needs or desires, arth, kaama, dharma, moksha
Raja yoga yoga in which union is achieved through concentration of mind
Rakta bindu red bindu, same as beeja(seed) bindu, shakti bindu; the potentially creative bindu from which creation springs; often refers to the ovum.
Rechaka exhalation
Rudra Lord Shiva ; Rudra is said to have sprung from Brahma's forehead and is one of the holy trinity
Sahasrara chakra highest energy centre located at the crown of the head
Sakshi witness
Samadhi the final stage of ashtanga yoga in which concentration becomes one with the object of concentration; supreme union.
Samskara impressions stored in the mind that form the basis of our beliefs, attitudes and personality.
Sankalpa spiritual resolve.
Sannyasi one who has renounced the world in seek of self-realization.
Santosha contentment
Saraswati Goddess who bestows knowledge of fine arts and power of speech
Sarvangasana shoulderstand - an inverted posture
Sat truth
Satguru guru who has attained self-realization
Sattwa guna quality unwavering purity
Satya truth-one of the yamas
Seetkari pranayama Breathing technique which involves hissing leading to a  cooling effect upon the whole body.
Shabda Brahman cosmic causal state.
Shakti vital force; energy
Shambhavi mudra a yoga gesture in which one focusses at the mid-eyebrow centre
Shashankasana moon pose
Shatkarma the six yogic techniques of purification of the body, viz. neti, dhauti, nauli, basti, trataka, kapalbhati
Sheetali pranayama cooling breath' - a pranayama technique that lowers the body temperature by inhaling through the mouth while letting the breath flow in over the tongue.
Shishya disciple; student
Siddha yoni asana the female counterpart of the siddhasana meditative posture, in which the left heel presses the entrance to the vagina
Siddhasana a meditative seating posture in which the left heel presses the perineum (stimulating the mooladhara chakra); also called as the adept's pose or the 'pose of perfection'.
Sirshasana inverted pose - the 'headstand' in which the body is inverted and balanced on the crown of the head
Soham represents a mantra in meditation; literally means, 'I am That'. Represents the Psychic sound with the sound 'so' during inhalation and 'ham' during exhalation.
Soma chakra sixteen petalled chakra situated above ajna and manas chakras
Sukhasana a comfortable meditative pose; also called the 'easy pose' or simply the cross-legged pose.
Surya bheda pranayama breathing technique in which inhalation is done through the right nostril ; increases vitality
Surya nadi see 'pingala nadi'
Sushumna nadi main energy channel in yoga, in the centre of the spinal cord through which kundalini shakti flows.
Sutra neti yogic technique to cleanse the nasal passage using a special thread
Swadhisthana chakra second chakra in the spinal column, above the mooladhara.
Swastikasana auspicious pose -meditative posture similar to siddhasana
Tadasana palm tree pose- standing posture
Tamas the quality of inertia, laziness, procrastination.
Tiryaka bhujangasana twisting cobra pose
Tiryaka tadasana swaying palm tree pose
Trataka one of the cleansing techniques (shatkarma) in which the gaze is focussed upon an object such as a candle flame.
Uddiyana bandha abdominal retraction lock'; drawing in of the abdomen towards the backbone after exhaling
Ujjayi pranayama a kind of breathing technique which produces a light sonorous sound.
Utkatasana squatting position
Uttankoormasana Tortoise pose
Vajrasana the 'thunderbolt' pose; a kneeling posture with buttocks resting upon the heels.
Vama swara flow of breath in the left nostril
Vaman dhauti yogic technique to cleanse the stomach by voluntary vomiting. There are two types: kunjal kriya (regurgitating of water) and vyaghra (regurgitating of food)
Varisara dhauti yogic cleansing technique in which a large quantity of water is drunk in conjunction with asanas to cleanse the entire digestive tract; also known as shankhaprakshalana.
Vashitva ability to control all objects, living and non-living
Vastra dhauti yogic detoxification technique in which a specially prepared cloth is swallowed and removed after ten minutes, in order to remove mucus from the stomach
Vatsara dhauti a cleansing technique in which the air swallowed into the stomach is belched out.
Vayu tattwa air element
Vedas four ancient texts- Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva, which are further divided into Samhita, Brahmana, Aranayaka and Upanishads. They were revealed to the sages and saints of India which explain and regulate every aspect of life from supreme reality to worldly affairs.  The oldest books in the library of mankind.
Veerasana hero,s pose - for concentration and discrminative thinking.
Vishuddhi chakra one of the energy centres located in the spine behind the throat and connected with the cervical plexus, tonsils and thyroid gland.
Yamuna river emanating from Yamnotri in the Himalayas and joining Ganga near Allahabd, North India;refers to pingala nadi in the pranic body.
Yoga state of union between two opposites - body and mind; individual and universal consciousness; a process of uniting the opposing forces in the body and mind in order to achieve supreme awareness and enlightenment.
Yoga abhyasa practice of yoga.
Yoga nidra a deep relaxation technique also called 'yogic sleep' in which mind and body is at complete rest but with complete awareness.