Yoga Terms & Definitions


Apana - Outgoing, cleansing breath/eliminated energy.

Asanas - Easy, comfortable sitting posture or as in Hatha Yoga, the physical postures or yoga poses (108 asanas) that should be repeated until mastered by the student Asana also means to remain steady and motionless while in a yoga posture according to Patanjali the asana should be "steady and pleasant"

Ashanti - Absence of peace; suffering and anxiety

Atma - One's individual soul that is universal and infinite in every being; the reality beind the physical appearance.

Avatar - An incarnation of Brahman or also known as the ultimate point of singularity from which all existence emerges incarnating in a human-like form.

Avidya - Ignorance; absence of true knowledge

Aum/Om - Considered to be the first sound and word that emanated from the Cosmic Creator. AUM: A-Awakening; emerges at throat, U-Dreaming; rolls over the tongue, M-Sleeping; ends at the lips (Alpha, Omega, Mu or Mother). This is the beginning and the end of everything that comes from the one point of singularity perceived as the "Mother" of all creation.

Aura - Considered the 8th chakra that is an energy field in and outside of the body extending several inches or feet from the physical body.

Bhanda - Body lock made by pulling in internal muscles and/organs.

Bhagavan - Lord, God Bhakta - Devotee to God/dess who has self-control, is virtuous and faithful

Bhakti Yoga - Yoga of love and devotion to God/dess

Bij - Meaning = "seed" in Sanskrit. In yoga it usually refers to the primordial sounds of the chakras; esp. AUM/OM.

Brahma - Creator God of the Hindu trinity, the other two Gods being Vishnu and Shiva Brahman - Absolute Spirit or Supreme Being from which all of existence emanates. The 3 aspects are creation, preservation, and destruction.

Brahmacharya - practice of celibacy

Buddhi - Intelligent discrimination of the mind

Chakra - Its literal meaning is "circle". In this context, it refers to the seven esoteric, energy centers located along the spinal column beginning with the muladhara chakra (root/elimination) at the base of the spine, followed by svadhisthana (sacral/reproductive), manipura (solar plexus/creative energy), anahata (heart/ love & healing), vissudha (throat/right speech/truth), ajna (third eye/connection to infinity), sahasrara chakra (crown/self-realization).

Chit - Knowledge

Chitta - Subconscious mind

Dharma - Karmic duty or code of conduct in one's life

Dharana - concentration in an introspective manner; fixing the mind so that it has one-pointed focus. This is accomplished through utilization of mantras, mudras, tongue placement in mouth, etc.

Dhyana - Contemplation of dharana practice, reflection and contemplation of the dharana practice; the mind processing subject matter from dharana experience (this is usually also a one-pointed focus)

Diksha - Spiritual initiation

Ganesha/Ganpati - Elephant-headed God who is the son of Lord Shiva. Clears the path for the aspirant. He is the destroyer of bad habits, ignorance, and greed.

Gopi(s)/Gopika - The milkmaids/companions/devotees Brindavan and Sri Krishna

Granthi - Psychic knot in the Braham Nadi that is difficult for the Kundalini to pierce

Gunas - Three primary qualities of a human: Satvik/Satva - peaceful, Rajasic/Raja - active, Tamasic/Tamas - heavy and dull.

Guru - Spiritual teacher who guides an aspirant on their spiritual journey.

Hanuman - Anthropomorphic demi-God who is both man and monkey, and devotee of Lord Rama. He is considered to be still active and his disciples are said to receive Hanuman's darshan or blessing.

Ida - Nadi running from the left side of the spinal column and all the way up to the Ajna/third eye chakra.

Indra - King of the Gods.

Hatha - A yogic path which focuses on the physical postures of in order to emphasize the development of human will.

Japa - A repeated sound vibration/mantra as is used in meditations.

Japa Mala - Repeating or chanting a particular mantra, using a set of mala beads to assist in keeping count of the mantra being recited.

Jnana - Knowledge that leads to wisdom

Jnana Yoga - The yogic path of wisdom which has an emphasis of discrimination of obtained knowledge. The awareness of one's identity with the Cosmic Source.

Kali - The destroyer aspect of Shakti who is often depicted as black female deity (not the skin tone black, the color black).

Kanda - The source of all the nadis.

Karma - The fruit of one's actions. For every reaction, there is an equal and opposite reaction from an infinite energetic source that can neither be created nor destroyed.

Kirtan - Sacred or spiritual music. Devotional hymns or mantras to God, usually repeating names of God.

Krishna - Avatar of Vishnu. He said to have been born or incarnated around 5,320 years ago.

Kriya - This is a completed action for a particular purpose, effect, or affirmation that uses asanas, mantras, and pranayama (breath).

Kriya Yoga - Yoga that uses certain techniques such as pranayama, asanas, mantras, and mudras intended to create a certain effect toward a particular action or an intentional communion with God from the aspirant.

Kundalini - From the root kundal meaning "the lock of hair of the beloved". Referring to the coiled creative, positive/latent energy located at the base of the spine of an individual. The feminine creative power of God or Shakti. Upon awakening it can lead the aspirant to self-realization. This is the intended end result of releasing the latent energy.

Laya Yoga - The aspirant uses certain techniques to concentrate on the Anahata sounds in an effort to achieve self-realization.

Mahatma - A purified soul.

Mala - A string of beads or seeds, usually in necklace form with 108 beads/seeds, used to assist in repeating a mantra a particular amount of times, usually 108 times.

Manas - The mind.

Manav - Human

Mantra - This is mind-guided sound currents that assists in fine-tuning the vibrations of the mind and thought patterns. Ex: Aum/Om

Mauna - Observing silence.

Maya - The illusion of the sensory reality we are experiencing all around us and throughout the world. "Be in the world, not of the world."

Mudra and the Attributes of the Fingers: Mudra - A mudra is a symbolic gesture and/or seal that is typically made with the fingers and hands in certain positions and can even include the entire body. The hands and fingers have different attributes and archetypes applied to them and are used as such in kriya exercises, meditations, mantras, etc.

Finger Attributes: -

~ Index Finger - Jupiter: knowledge and expansion -

~ Middle finger - Saturn: patience, transforming emotions to devotion, responsibility 

~ Ring finger - Sun: physical vitality, health, beauty -

~Little/Pinky finger - Mercury: communication; functioning in the world

~ Thumb - positive ego - higher self


Prana - Life Force that comes through the air that we breathe.

Pranayam - Specific breathing techniques used in yoga.

Sadhana - A daily spiritual practice that is usually performed at dawn just before sunrise; ideally 4:00 am if sunrise is happening between 5:30 and 6:00 am. Can be done at any time though.

Samadhi - The state when the conscious mind merges with the Infinite creating a state of bliss.

Sanskrit - The ancient and sacred Indian language still in use today especially in temples, texts, ceremonies, etc.

Shabd - A sacred word and the sound current it creates.

Tapa - The inner psychic heat that is created with prana when repeating a mantra.

Tattvas - The five elements from which everything is made: ether, air, fire, water, and earth.

Yoga - The literal meaning is the union of the mind, body, and spirit.