Sanskrit Glossary

Sanskrit is an ancient language from India dating back more than 6000 years. To this day, it is widely used in religious and scholarly texts, and even yoga. Our complete sanskrit glossary will help you understand the meaning behind the yoga poses.

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abhyasa: practice; the opposite but also the other half of vairagya, both of which are required to balance the body and mind.
acarya (archarya): a spiritual or religious guide or teacher.
adho: bottom, downward.
Advaita Vedanta: a school of Hindu philosophy that interprets and unifies all Upanishads, or Hindu philosophical texts, into one truth and reality.
advaita: unique, peerless; refers to obtaining knowledge of the Atman, pure consciousness. In order to obtain Advaita, one must destroy their behavioural tendencies, or vasana.
agni: fire, god of fire.
ahamkara (ahagkara): individualization, thinking of self, but also conceit, arrogance and pride. One of the four parts of the antahkarana, or “inner organ” (IE soul, heart, mind), the ahamkara represents the ego which must be removed or transcended.
ahimsa: harmlessness, safeness, security; one of the most important tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism that requires the respect of all living things for a non-violent, peaceful unity.
akasha: sky, space, ether, heaven; the essence and composition of all things in the material world and the first of the five elements (followed by air, fire, water, earth).
amrita: immortal, beautiful, beloved; also god, goddess, ambrosia; referred to as ambrosia, or the nectar of the gods, in Hinduism and other religious texts. In yoga, amrita is said to flow from the pituitary gland down the throat when in deep meditation. The benefits are seen as unparalleled for health and bring us closer to our divine body.
anaha: breathing freely, healthy, length.
Ananda: happiness, joy, delight, pleasure; Ananda is also the name of a direct disciple and attendant of Buddha.
ananta: infinite, eternal, unending.
anga (agga): limb, body part.
angusta: big toe.
anjali mudra: joining the palms together in reverence; a hand gesture where the palms are brought together typically in front of the chest, fingers pointing upward and thumbs at the sternum; this gesture is incorporated in many yoga postures and also used as a greeting and indicator of respect throughout Asia.
Anjaneya: Hanuman, son of Ajanna.
antahkarana: inner organ, soul, heart, mind; made up of four parts including the ahamkhara (ego), buddhi (intellect), manas (mind) and chitti (memory).
ardha: half, one part.
Arjuna: clear, white, made of silver; Arjuna is also the third of the five sons of Pandu, the victors of a great war now called the Battle of Kurukshetra, and is described as being a great listener, warrior and archer. He was a disciple of Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Supreme God Vishnu.
asana: posture, seat; refers to both the place in which a yogi is sitting and the manner in which he sits.
ashrama: a hermitage, asylum; derived from zrama, meaning fatigue or struggle, indicating a place to relieve one’s burdens; also an age-based social system discussed in Sanskrit texts that regards one lifespan as 107 years, separated into 4 stages.
ashtanga (ashta-anga): eight parts, consisting of eight parts or limbs (anga); refers to Raja Yoga which follows the eightfold path of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The path includes yama (respect for others, moral conduct), niyama (self respect and restraint), asana (posture, harmony with the body), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (suppression of the senses, emotional focus), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (profound or abstract meditation). Mastering the eight parts leads you to kaivaya, meaning enlightenment, emancipation and eternal happiness. Not to be confused with the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga: also known as Ashtanga Yoga (not to be confused with Patanjali’s Ashtanga or Raja yoga), Vinyasa Yoga and Power Yoga; refers to a modern form of yoga founded in 1948 by K. Pattabhi Jois; high-energy, rigorous yoga that focuses on fluid motion between asanas (yoga postures) connected with pranayama (breathing exercise).
asmita: egoism; one of the obstacles that must be destroyed in order to attain samadhi in the eightfold path of Patanjali.
asta: eight.
astagga: eight parts, consisting of eight parts or members.
Atman: spirit, soul, essence, self; the first principal in Hindu philosophy, it refers to the inner, true self, the transcendental self, that must be realized in order to attain salvation.
avadhuta: neglected, rejected, to expel every worldly desire and obligation; a person who has achieved pure consciousness, completely free of common worldly concerns.
avidya: ignorance, spiritual ignorance; foolish; this stands for the original cause of suffering and the separation of the heart and the mind, to which we must strive to unify.
Ayurveda: science of health and medicine; a traditional system of Indian and alternative medicine.
baddha, bandha: bound, captured; the contractions or body locks used in Hatha Yoga; the bondage of karma in Jainism, including even thinking ill-will on another person, which must be transcended in order to reach the highest Reality.
baka: crane.
bala: infant, child, girl, boy.
bandha: fastening, bond, lock.
Bhagavad Gita: The Song of the Bhagavan, or “Lord’s Song,” also simply called the Gita; a 700-verse Hindu scripture. This scripture includes the teachings of karma yoga, samkhya yoga and bhakti yoga, all detailed through a conversation between Arjuna, Prince of Pandu and his master Lord Krishna.
Bhagavata-Purana: translates as “ancient scripture;” it is one of the great Puranic texts of Hinduism, focusing on the Supreme Lord Vishnu, particularly as his 8th incarnation Krishna.
bhakta: faithful, loyal; a devotee of Krishna; a practitioner of bhakti yoga.
Bhakti Yoga: a branch of yoga that focuses less on yogic exercises and more on the devotion, love and surrender to the Divine.
Bhakti-Sutra, Narada Bhakti Sutra: “Narada’s Aphorisms on Devotion;” a sutra based on Pure Devotion and Pure Love for the Divine in the practice of Bhakti Yoga.
bhakti: devotion, faithfulness, portion, distribution; refers to religious devotion and the love and worship of the Divine.
Bharadvaja: a legendary seer to whom Bharadvaja’s Twist is dedicated; skylark, planet Mars, bearing speed and strength.
bheka: frog.
bhuja: arm, hand.
bhujanga: snake, serpent, serpent-demon.
bindu: point, drop; the point where creation begins to flow; a point on the forehead where our sixth sense, or third eye, is located, representing concealed wisdom. This area is often adorned with a decoration, or bindi, in South Asian cultures.
bodhi: wise, learned, perfect knowledge; the understanding possessed by the Buddha regarding the nature of all things.
bodhisattva: one who is on the path of obtaining perfect knowledge (bodhi); may refer to an enlightened existence or a being that has achieved enlightenment in Buddhism or Mahayana Buddhist yoga.
Brahma: sacred, divine; also the Hindu God of Creation, creator of the universe and father Manu, from whom all humans are descended.
Brahmacharya: state of chastity;, state of an abstinent, unmarried religious student; the first stage of the Ashram System (Ashrama). Composed of the words Brahma, or God, and charya, meaning “practice” or “occupation with,” roughly translating to “following the teaching of God.”
brahman: devotion, prayer; the highest Reality; the supreme self.
Brahmana (brahmin): Hindu texts of the four Vedas, to which each Vedic school has its own. Also called brahmin, or a member of the scholar social class of traditional Hindu societies.
Buddha: the enlightened, awakened; title of Gautama, founder of Buddhism, and also the title of any person who has attained enlightenment.
buddhi: talent, perception, reason, knowledge of oneself; that which makes wisdom possible.
cakra, chakra: wheel, whirlpool, circular; the metaphysical life force and energy in the physical body. In yoga, chakra centers are indicated throughout the body (5 centers in Buddhist yoga, 7 or more in Hindu yoga). Centers can be found at the base of the spine, the heart, the navel, the throat and the head.
camatkara: miracle, surprise, spectacle, riot.
candra: glittering, shining.
chaturanga: having four limbs.
chin-mudra, cin-mudra: a hand gesture that indicates the giving of knowledge, where the index finger and thumb touch to form a circle and the remaining fingers are straightened.
Chit, cit: resolve, observe, be conscious of; true consciousness, a primary principle of ancient spiritual Hindu traditions and practices.
citta: knowledge, memory, thought; ordinary consciousness, the state of mind, unlike that of true consciousness (cit).
danda: rod, stick, being a staff.
darshana, darśana: philosophy, view, seeing, knowing; specifically “visions of the divine,” blessings of knowledge from a deity; describes the interaction between a devotee and the guru or God to whom he worships.
deva: god, fate, divine, heavenly; the masculine word for deity, or any benevolent metaphysical or otherworldly being. Vishnu, Rama, Shiva and Krishna are all examples of devas.
devi: goddess, queen, worship; feminine word for deity; the core of every Hindu goddess and a necessary component for the male counterpart, without which he would be empty and impotent. The Devi is also known as Praktri, or nature, and is manifested as goddesses such as Parvati, Kali, Radha and Lakshmi.
dhanu: bow.
dharana: concentration; the sixth anga (limb, part) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, or Raja Yoga.
dharma: manner, nature, relating to justice or virtue; the Law that maintains the order of the universe.
dhyana: meditation, appreciation, reflection; the seventh anga (limb, part) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, or Raja Yoga.
diksha: initiation, preparation; the reciting of a mantra to consecrate a religious ceremony; diksha is an initiation in traditional yoga and in styles such as Kriya Yoga, which teaches hidden aspects and lessons of the art.
drishti: attitude, vision, eyesight; in yoga, a focused gaze at the tip of the nose or the bindu, the space in the middle of the brow bone and the location of the third eye. Related to the fifth anga (part, limb) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga, the pratyahara, which focuses on the suppression and withdrawal of the senses.
duhkha: unpleasant, sorrow, suffering; one of the Four Noble Truths, an essential aspect of life that is caused by our ignorance of our true selves.
dvi: two.
eka: single, one.
Galava: the sage to which Galavasana is dedicated; ebony.
garuda: eagle; shaped like the bird Garuda, king of the birds.
Gayatri Mantra: a highly regarded Vedic mantra, most commonly recited at sunrise but performed throughout the day.
Gherand Samhita: one of the three major texts of Hatha Yoga; unlike other texts, Gherand Samhita highlights seven anga (parts, limbs) of yoga as opposed to Patanjali’s eight parts.
go: cow, ox, herd of cattle.
Gorakshanath: a Hindu guru and yogi, considered the “eternal sage” within Hatha Yoga; disciple of Matsyendranatha, one of the founders of Hatha Yoga.
granthi: knot, doubt; knots or blockages developed in the physical, subtle and energetic body that must be softened and released so that breath and circulation can flow.
guna: virtue, merit, quality, talent; refers to three primary principles of prakrti (nature), including sattva (creation), rajas (preservation) and tamas (destruction).
Guru Bhakti: devotion to the guru; an important ritual in many schools of Hinduism.
Guru Gita: Song of the Guru; Hindu scripture that praises the Guru, written by Vyasa who is considered to be the scribe of the Vedas. Details the conversation between the Hindu god Shiva and his wife, the goddess Parvati, during which he explains to her the ways of worshipping the Guru.
Guru Yoga: teacher practice, yoga of the teacher; an approach in yoga in which the disciples unite their mindstream with that of the guru.
guru: teacher, proud, respectable; a spiritual teacher, particularly in Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
hala: plow, earth.
hamsa: relating to a goose or swan, gander; represents perfect union, balance and life, often associated with the brahman (supreme self). Also refers to the pranayama (fourth limb of the Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga), the breath as it flows throughout the body. The inhalation is said to sound like “ham,” and the exhalation to sound like “sa” — and so the hamsa now represents prana, the breath of life.
Hanuman: the Hindu deity Hanuman.
hasa: hand.
Hatha Yoga Pradipika: traditional Sanskrit manual on Hatha Yoga, compiled by Yogi Swatmarama, a disciple of Gorakshanath (one of the school’s founders).
Hatha Yoga: forced yoga or abstract meditation; one of the most prominent forms of modern yoga, founded by Matsyendranath and Gorakshanath around the 9th or 10th century. Emphasizes the physical aspects of yoga, comprised primarily of asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing techniques).
Hiranyagarbha: golden fetus, golden womb; referred to as “universal germ”; source of creation of the universe and cosmos, referred to as the “God of gods” and synonymous with Brahma. Considered in post-classical yoga to be the founder of yoga.
Ida Nadi: moon channel, pale conduit; the nadi (channel through which energy flows) that nourishes and purifies body and mind, located to the left of the spine; one of the three most important nadis, the others being sushumna and pingala.
Ishvara: king, ruler, Supreme Being; the Brahma, God of Creation.
Ishvarapranidhana: devotion to god; the complete surrender and love towards the divine in Hinduism and Yoga; in Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, one of the five practices of self-restraint (niyama, the second limb of Ashtanga Yoga).
Jaina: relating to Jainism or worshipper of jinas (victor, Buddha, Vishnu); a follower of Jainism, a religion that focuses on the path of ahimsa (non-violence).
janu: knee.
japa: muttering prayers; spiritual discipline involving the recitation of mantras.
jathara: stomach, belly, hunger.
jivanmukta: liberated before death, emancipated while alive; one who has fully realized the true self, liberating their soul from reincarnation and breaking the cycle of rebirth.
jivanmukti: emancipation while still alive; the word from which jivanmukta is derived; a combination of jivan, meaning soul, and mukti meaning salvation or freedom.
jivatman: individual soul, vital principle; also jiva, the immortal spiritual self that continues on after the death of the physical body.
Jnana Yoga: yogic path of knowledge; emphasizes the importance of realizing one’s true self in order to know the divine.
jnana: knowledge, awareness, conscience; knowledge inseparable from the experience of total reality, including both worldly and transcendent knowledge.
kaivalya: perfect isolation, absolute unity, perfect happiness; the supreme state of the true self and the ultimate goal of the yogic lifestyle.
kaka: crow.
Kali-yuga: the fourth and final stage of the world, believed by many to be happening currently; the dark age that marks spiritual and moral decline; refers not to Kali, goddess of Destruction, but instead to the Demon Kali, 10th and final incarnation of Vishnu and source of all evil.
Kali: Hindu goddess of Time, Change and Destruction; embodies the fierceness of the Divine and associated with empowerment.
kama: love, wishing, desiring, usually in a sexual connotation; in Hinduism, seen as the third of the four goals in life, along with dharma (duty), artha (status) and moksha (salvation); also refers to sexual desire and gratification, which blocks the path to true salvation and happiness.
Kapila: a Vedic sage credited as a founder of Samkhya traditional philosophy, one of the oldest philosophical systems of India; believed to be a grandson of Brahma.
kapota: pigeon, dove.
karani: making, forming, doing.
Karma Yoga: Yoga through action; achieving perfect happiness and liberation through action in the form of selfless service.
karma, karman: perform work; act, action; refers to the choices and sequence of one’s actions that leads to their destiny; the cycle of cause and effect.
karna: ear, earring, relating to the ear.
karuna: compassion, empathy, pity; an important part of the spiritual path in both Buddhism and Jainism; in Buddhism and Buddhist yoga, karuna is associated with enlightened wisdom (prajna).
khecari-mudra: “Flying Seal”; yogic practice of placing the tip of the tongue against the upper palate or against the uvula; said to awaken and seal spiritual energy within the body.
kona: angle, corner.
kosha: pocket, scabbard, casing; refers to any of the five sheaths, or envelopes, that surround and cover the atman (soul, transcendental self), blocking its light; the kosha are seen as separate from the self, except for the last kosha which is composed of ananda (pure happiness).
Koundinya: the sage to which Koundinyasana is dedicated to.
Krishna: black, dark-blue, dark; eighth incarnation of Vishnu, supreme God of Hinduism and a major component of the Bhagavad Gita.
krouncha: any kind of snipe or wading bird (heron, curlew).
kumbhaka: stopping the breath by shutting the mouth and closing the nostrils with the fingers of the right hand; breath retention.
kundalini shakti: coiled energy, coiled power; in yoga, the inner corporeal energy that sits at the base of the spine, relating to the serpent and referred to as “serpent power.”
Kundalini Yoga: Yoga of Awareness; yogic path that focuses on mental and spiritual discipline to achieve liberation.
Laya Yoga: Yoga of Dissolution; also called Kundalini Yoga, focuses on the lifting of the kundalini (coiled energy) through meditation.
linga: mark, spot; a representation of Hindu God Shiva.
Mahabharata: one of two great Sanskrit epics, detailing the great war between Kaurava and Pandava; known for its spiritual and moral teachings.
mahatma: powerful, distinguished, highly gifted; honorific title for “great souls,” roughly synonymous with “saint.”
maithuna: sexual intercourse, union, connection; Tantric, ritualistic sexual union where each person views the other as Shiva or Shakti respectively.
mala: garland.
manas: imagination, opinion, intelligence; the lower mind that yields information as opposed to wisdom.
mandala: circular, round; a symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism, representing the cosmos or universe.
Mantra yoga: the yogic path that uses mantras as the primary means to liberation of the soul.
mantra: spell, speech, charm; sacred sound, word or phrase, said to have a spiritually altering effect to the individual reciting it; used as a way to lead to liberation of the soul.
Marichi: a son of Brahma; ray of light, starlight.
marjari: cat, female cat.
marman: vulnerable point, the core of everything; in yoga, the spot on the body where energy is blocked or built up.
matsya: fish, fish-like, fishy.
Matsyendranath: Lord of the Fish; guru of Gorakshanath, with whom he founded Hatha Yoga. Said to be created from a fish.
maya: deception, fraud; to pretend to have a quality one lacks.
mayura: peacock, belonging to a peacock, made of peacocks’ feathers.
moksha: release, emancipation, liberation; the cycle of death and rebirth; the freedom from ignorance.
mudra: seal; a symbolic gesture of the hand or entire body, of which there are 108 in Tantric rituals; also the title of the female counterpart of Tantric sex rituals.
mukha: face, mouth.
muni: sage, holy man, saint.
Nada yoga: Yoga of the inner sound; form of yoga and philosophical system involving the process of listening intently to the inner sound, the vibrations that pass through the cosmos and everything, including human beings.
nada: sound, river; the sound of the cosmos; also the inner sound, heard when practicing Nada yoga, Kundalini yoga or Laya yoga.
nadi shodhana: channel cleansing; the practice of purifying the nadis (life-force channels) of our bodies by means of breath control; may refer specifically to the practice of alternating breathing through the left and right nostrils to stimulate different nadis and sides of the brain.
nadi: vein, river, conduit; the channels through which our life force (prana) flows, including the primary nadis ida, pingala and sushumna.
namaste: salute you; a greeting or farewell statement customarily accompanied by a slight bow with the hands at Anjali Mudra (prayer pose); in context translates roughly to “good day” or “be well” and is usually performed at the beginning and end of a yoga session to offer respect to the students, teacher, partner or class.
Narada: a great sage whose name means “Give of Wisdom,” often associated with music; teacher of Bhakti yoga and believed to have contributed to the Bhakti Sutras.
nata: dancer, actor, curved.
natha: lord, protector, master; title bestowed upon North Indian masters of yoga, particularly ones schooled in Gorakshanath’s Kanphata school; the Nath tradition is said to be founded by Matsyendranath, guru of Gorakshanath.
nava: boat, ship.
neti neti: neither this nor that; not thus, not thus; used in the Upanishads (Hindu philosophical texts) as a description of the Brahman, or the highest reality, which can only be defined by what it is not; in others words, it is beyond all description.
nirodha: prevention, disappointment, restraint; one of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, refers to freeing the self from suffering and used as a synonym for nirvana; in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’s Ashtanga or Raja yoga, it’s used in the famous phrase “yogas citta-vritti nirodhah,” meaning “Yoga is the restraint of mental modifications.”
niyama: limitation, restriction, law; the second anga (limb, part) of Patanjali’s eightfold Ashtanga or Raja yoga path. There are 5 niyamas in Patanjali’s eightfold path, consisting of shaucha (cleanliness, purity), santosha (contentment, satisfaction), tapas (spiritual austerity), svadhyaya (self study, study of the soul) and ishvara pranidhana (surrender to God through dedication and duty). For ethical living in Hinduism and yoga, niyama represents the “shall do” (in terms of the spiritual world) while yama represents the “shall not” (what must be rejected in the material world).
nyasa: trust, placing, planting; a ritual in Hinduism, the practice of touching various body parts or thinking of specific body parts as you recite specific sections of a mantra. These parts are infused with life force by invoking the presence of the deity specific to the mantra within the body. Each mantra is associate with a specific nyasa.
ojas: vigor, power, energy; the subtle yet essential life energy that flows through the body and increases in production with practice, believed to fight and destroy disease.
om: amen, verily, so be it; a one-word, one-syllable mantra and possibly the most famous of all mantras; symbolizes the highest reality, or the Brahman.
pada: foot.
padma: lotus.
paramahamsa: translates as “supreme swan,” but refers to a religious man who has subdued all of his senses by abstract meditation; honorific title bestowed upon adept Hindu spiritual teachers who have reached enlightenment. As the swan is just as comfortable on water as he is on land, one with the title of paramahamsa is identically balanced in the physical and spiritual world. The title can only be given to one that has been approved by a committee of spiritual leaders or by one who has already received the title.
Paramatman: Supreme Spirit; all the heart; the transcendental self to which one strives to reach in order to link them spiritually to the Absolute, the highest Reality; the Paramatman is singular and not to be confused with jivatman, the individual soul, which is countless and exists separately in all living things.
parigha: gate of a palace, iron bar used for locking or shutting a gate.
paripurna: complete, perfect, whole.
parivrtta: turned around, revolved.
parsva: side, near, proximate.
pasa: rope, chain, trap, noose.
Patanjali: (c. 150 BCE) the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, possibly the most important texts of Yoga in existence; adheres to the eightfold structure of yoga.
pazcima: west.
pida: limitation, restriction, suffering.
pincha: wing.
Pingala Nadi: sun channel, red conduit; the nadi (channel through which energy flows) that energizes the mind, located to the right of the spine; one of the three most important nadis, the others being ida and sushumna.
Power Yoga: see Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga
prajna: wise, intelligent, clever; spiritual wisdom and understanding, opposite of avidya (spiritual ignorance; needed in order to realize the Four Noble Truths, leading to the realization of the true self and enlightenment.
prakriti: nature; in Hinduism, the basic natural law of intelligence that the universe follows. In the Bhagavad Gita, referred to as the “primal motive force.” Also referenced in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as primal nature; considered another force to overcome in order to achieve enlightenment.
prakritilaya, prakriti-laya: dissolution of the universe, absorption into nature; a high-level state of awareness and existence just short of the highest Reality.
prana: breath, breath of life; the life force that flows through the nadis of our bodies; also refers to our breath, which is the external manifestation of the life force
pranayama: extending the breath; the fourth anga (limb, part) of Patanjali’s eightfold Ashtanga or Raja yoga; breath control, including the inhalation (puraka), retention (kumbhaka) and exhalation (recaka).
prasada: serenity, kindness, tranquility; divine grace, purity.
prasarita: extended, stretched out, expanded, spread.
pratyahara: withdrawal, retreat; fifth anga (limb, part) of Patanjali’s eightfold Ashtanga or Raja yoga; refers to sensory inhibition as a means of reaching enlightenment
puja: honor, worship, reverence; used in many forms of yoga, such as Bhakti yoga and Tantra.
puraka: fulfilling, satisfying; refers to inhalation, aspect of pranayama (breath control).
purana: ancient Hindu texts that may refer to the eulogies of various deities or the history of the universe, including creation, destruction, royal genealogy, cosmology, philosophy, geography and rituals; there are 18 major puranas, referred to Mahapuranas, and many other minor ones.
purusha: male, person, spirit; the atman (transcendental self, true self); one of the names of Shiva.
Radha: also known as Radhika Devi, was the spouse of Krishna (8th incarnation of Vishnu); regarded in some traditions as the the original Goddess and incarnation of Lakshmi.
Raja yoga: Yoga through meditation; the name of Patanjali’s eightfold yoga that follows the Yoga Sutras, also called classical yoga and Ashtanga yoga.
raja: king, chief.
Rama: black, dark; seventh incarnation of Supreme God Vishnu; central figure of the Ramayana, one of the two great epics of Indian culture.
Ramayana: Rama’s Journey; one of the two great epics of India, detailing the life of Rama with morals about obligation, duties and what it means to be an idea father, wife, brother, servant and king.
recaka: exhalation, emptying the lungs; refers to exhalation, aspect of pranayama (breath control).
Rigveda: ancient collection of Vedic hymns and one of the four sacred texts known as Vedas.
Rishi: seer, inspired poet or sage; honorific title given to the scribes of the Vedas; one who has reached the samadhi (highest reality), the eighth and final limb of the Yoga Sutras, as a yogini or yogi.
sadhana: realization, means; a means of accomplishing spiritual objectives and obligations through discipline, which leads to siddhi (perfection, accomplishment, success).
sahaja: born together at the same time; natural, innate; the concept that there is no sacred or profane, no good or evil, but that everything is empty yet pure; the implication that the highest Reality and the empirical reality are not separate, but coexist.
salabha: locust, cricket, moth, grasshopper.
salamba: as support.
samadhi: concentration of thoughts, bringing into harmony; the eighth and final limb of Patanjali’s eightfold path in the Yoga Sutras; a state of consciousness induced by a higher level of meditation in which the meditator and the object of meditation unify.
samatva: equality, uniformity; a mental state of balance and harmony.
Samkhya: rational, numeral; one of the orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy; strongly dualist and regards the highest Reality and empirical reality as separate, unlike sahaja.
Samnyasa: exhaustion, resignation, agreement; the renunciation of worldly thoughts and desires in order to pursue a path of spirituality, a state of dispassion and separation from the material aspects of life; the fourth and final stage of life in the ashram system (ashrama).
samnyasin: one who abandons worldly affairs; a male member of the Samnyasa order; one who has renounced worldly thoughts and desires.
samnyasini: nun; a female member of the Samnyasa order; one who has renounced worldly thoughts and desires.
Samprajnata samadhi: often referred to simply as samadhi, referred to by Patanjali as the “complete high consciousness.”
samsara: course, life, passage; circuit of mundane, worldly existence; refers to the world of change as opposed to highest Reality and the repeating cycle of birth, life, death and reincarnation.
samskara: impression, cleansing, purification; the impressions left on the spiritual self from experiences in this life or previous lives that dictate one’s responses and desires; said to be eliminated when samadhi is attained.
samyama: self control, restraint; the process of receiving deeper knowledge of the object of meditation by practicing dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (harmony) simultaneously.
sarva: each, every, all.
sat: accurate, true, wise; the supreme self and the ultimate reality; the brahman or atman.
satsanga: company of the wise; the practice of surrounding oneself with good spiritual “company,” referring to the company of the guru, saints, sages and spiritual peers, but also to the internal company of the highest truth and Reality.
satya: true, sincere, faithful; the unchangeable and ultimate Reality; the practice of being true and honest as act of moral discipline.
sava: corpse.
setu: bridge, dike.
shakti: energy, power, strength; embodiment of divine feminine creation.
shaktipata: prostration of strength; an initiation that involves the transference of spiritual energy from one person to another, usually from a teacher to a disciple; a spiritual baptism meant to awaken the recipient’s shakti (energy).
Shankara: Hindu philosopher from the early eighth-century, a strong believer of nondualism who disagreed with an offered different views from many sects of Hindu philosophy, including Buddhism; his teachings may have been responsible for the decline of Buddhism in India.
shishya: pupil, student, scholar; an initiate that is formally recognized as a disciple of a guru.
Shiva Sutras: a collection of aphorisms followed in Kashmir Shaivism, a non-dualistic philosophy that uses wisdom, yoga and grace as a means to realizing the highest reality.
Shiva: benign, friendly, kind; a Hindu deity and omniscient yogi, he has served as a model for yogis and yoginis; Shiva has several forms, from incredibly benevolent to ones that are equally as fearsome.
shodhana: cleansing, purifying; a fundamental of all paths and branches of yoga.
shraddha: trust, faith, belief; an essential trait in dedication to the yogic path; deeper than simply “faith,” the meaning implies confidence, loyalty and diligence.
shuddhi: purity, cleanness; a state of purity and also a ritual in Hinduism; may also refer to converting back to Hinduism after you’ve converted from Hinduism to another religion; synonymous to shodhana.
Siddha yoga: Yoga of the adepts; a modern yoga tradition founded by Swami Muktananda Paramahamsa (1908-1982) that utilizes the beliefs of Kashmir Shaivism.
siddha: successful, powerful, divine; in Kashmir Shaivism, refers to the guru that can initiate disciples into Yoga; an adept.
siddhi: personal success, determination, perfection, accomplishment; spiritual perfection through discipline and practice; to attain knowledge and understanding of the highest Reality and Supreme Self (brahman, atman); magical abilities that have been honed by a siddha (guru).
simha: lion, lioness, powerful one.
sirsa: head, skull, top.
spanda: beat, pulse, vibration; a teaching of Kashmir Shaivism, refers to a non-physical movement, a vibration of the Divine that can be heard or felt as a throbbing.
stambha: stem, pillar, column.
suhka: pleasant, happiness, delight.
supta: asleep, resting, inactive.
Sushumna nadi: channel of grace; the nadi (channel through which energy flows) that connects the base chakra to the crown chakra, located along the center of the spinal cord; one of the three most important nadis, the others being ida and pingala.
sutra: string, thread, cord; an aphorism or collection of aphorisms, particularly as a guide or manual, such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
svadhyaya: recite, study; to study the Vedas; in Hinduism, may specifically refer to the study of the Vedas or study in general; an essential part of any yogic path, included under niyama (self restraint), the second anga (limb, part) of Patanjali’s eightfold yoga.
svana: dog.
tada: mountain.
tan: continuation, extend, uninterrupted succession.
Tantra: technique, framework, loom; a Hindu style of meditation first discussed in the Rigveda; a work that contains Tantric teachings, a spiritual path that seeks liberation through shakti (feminine side of energy, power and strength). Tantrism has two very different schools of thought, one being Dakshinachara (right-hand path), considered an orthodox sect of Hinduism, and the other being Vamachara (left-hand path), which is an unconventional heterodox sect that is well-known for it’s participation in sexual rituals.
tapas: warmth, heat, deep concentration or meditation; refers to spiritual suffering, atonement, austerity and ultimately spiritual liberation; key in all schools of yoga in order to obtain knowledge of the brahman (highest Reality, Supreme Self) and gain self-transcendence.
tattva: essence or substance, reality, truth; elements considered “principles” or “truths” of reality by different schools of Indian philosophy; ahamkara, bandha, moksha and manas are all examples of tattva, which must be be recognized, accepted and transcended in order to obtain spiritual liberation, or brahman.
titihba: cochineal (a type of scale bug).
trikona: triangle, triangular.
turiya: also chaturtha or caturiya; fourth; consisting of four parts; the highest Reality (brahman) or pure consciousness which transcends waking and sleeping consciousness, including both dreamless and dream-filled sleep.
Upanishad: secret doctrine, words of mystery; refers to a collection of Hindu philosophical texts and scriptures; the final texts of the Veda, also called the Vedanta; contains knowledge of the path to spiritual liberation and the brahman, or ultimate Reality.
upavistha: sitting, seated.
upaya: remedy, solution, trick, pedagogy; in Buddhism and Buddhist yoga, the practice of using wisdom and compassion to alter a specific lesson to fit a specific audience; refers to finding a way to convey a spiritual message by the most appropriate means for an individual, which may not directly lead to the attainment of the true highest Reality but will bring the practitioner closer to liberation and may lead to enlightenment in a more expedient fashion.
urdhva: upright, erect, elevated.
ustra: camel, buffalo.
ut: intense.
utkata: proud, excessive, superior, furious.
utthita: extended, risen, elevated.
vairagya: distaste, apathy, disgust; in Hindu philosophy, refers to the rejection of all things in the material world, including pain and pleasure; believed to lead to moksha (spiritual liberation); also called samnyasa
vakra: curved, bent, crooked.
Vashistha: one of the Seven Great Sages, to whom the Side Plank Pose is dedicated.
Vinyasa: movement, connecting; most commonly used in reference to styles of yoga, indicates a more physical and dynamic exercise while emphasising pranayama (breathing exercise) and flow; Vinyasa Yoga may refer specifically to Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, a modern style of high-energy yoga that connects each asana through flowing movement and breath control, but can refer to any vigorous yoga exercise.
viparita: reverse, inverse, opposite.
vira: brave, heroic, strong.
vīrabhadra: warrior (specifically, the warrior created by Shiva to avenge Sati).
vrksa: tree.
vrschika: scorpion, Scorpio.
yama: restraint, suppression; commandments or rules, they represent what should be abstained from in the material world; represents the first limb of Patanjali’s eightfold Raja or Ashtanga Yoga, comprised of 5 yamas including ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), asteya (not stealing), brahmacharya (spiritual training and chastity) and aparigraha (deprivation, limitation of worldly possessions). Other scriptures, such as Hatha Yoga Pradipika, honor 10 yamas.
yoga: junction, union, diligence; blanket term referring to physical, mental and spiritual practices as a means of attaining clarity and peace; originating in ancient India, yoga is most commonly regarded as a form of exercise and meditation in the modern Western world.
yoganidra: state of half meditation half sleep.


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