Glossary of Definitions

Yoga is a complex subject that has it's origins in a different language and culture, for this reason there are many concepts that are new and confusing to the novice. This page provides a list of many of the terms, words and phrases used in yoga, with a brief description to help shed some light and to help improve your understanding of yoga.


AdvaitaAdvaita is non duality, the concept of the individual being one with the infinite.
AsanaAsana means posture. This is the third stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
BandhaTo bind or fetter. This refers to postures where certain parts of the body or its organs are contracted or bound in a controlled manner.
BuddhiBuddhi is the intellect, the reason, the ability discriminate and pass judgement.
ChakraChakra translates as wheel or circle and refers to the seven main locus points within the body where prana is focused, these focal points occur where the prana energy channels, the nadis, intersect. The seven main chakras are: Muadhara, the base chakra; Svadhisthana, the sacral chakra; Manipura, the solar chakra; Anahata, the heart chakra; Vishuddha, the throat chakra; Anja, the brow chakra; and Sahasrara, the crown chakra.
ChittaThe whole of the mind. This being composed of three parts: Mind, the focus of attention; Reason, where distinctions between things are made, the decisive state; and Ego, the part that says I am.
DharanaConcentration, the complete attention of the mind. This is the sixth stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
DhyanaMeditation. This is the seventh stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
KapalabhatiThis literally means light skull, and is a breathing technique aimed at clearing the sinuses and improving the flow of prana.
MudraA seal or sealing posture. Mudras are usually hand gestures but can also involve other parts of the body they are used in conjuction with pranayama breathing to stimulate various parts of the body and to aid the flow of prana.
NadiThese are the channels of the subtle body through which prana flows. There are three nadi: Sushumna, which flows from the base chakra to the crown chakra; Pingala, which flows from the right nostril down to the sacral area crossing the spine and Shusumma at the main chakras; and Ida, which flows from the left nostril down to the sacral area and again crossing at the main chakras.
NiyamaNiyama refers the five disciplines of: Shaucha, cleanliness; Santosha, satisfaction with ones state; Tapas, self discipline; Svadhyaya, study of the Vedas; and Ishvarapranidhana, decication of ones will to the infinite. This is the second stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
PranaPrana is the vital breath or energy that permeates all things.
PranayamaPranayama (Sanskrit: प्राणायाम prāṇāyāma) is a Sanskrit word meaning "restraint of the prana or breath". The word is composed of two Sanskrit words, Prāna, life force, or vital energy, particularly, the breath, and "āyāma", to suspend or restrain. Pranayama is the fourth 'limb' of the eight limbs of Raja Yoga mentioned in verse 2.29 in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Pranayama is the the practice of breath control. This is the forth stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
PratyaharaWithdrawal of the mind from the senses. This is fifth stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
SamadhiOneness, the state where the act of meditation and the focus of the meditation become one. This is the eighth and final stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
VeganVeganism is the dietry preference of avoiding all animal flesh and animal products, including milk, eggs and honey.
VegetarianVegetarianism is the dietry preference of avoiding all animal flesh. There are several varieties of vegetarian, some avoiding milk and or eggs and other animal products in the yogic tradition.
YamaYama refers to the five moral observances of: Ahimsa, non violence; Satya, truth in word; Brahmacharya, celibacy or monogomy; Asteya, non covertness; and Aparigraha, non possesiveness. This is the first stage of yoga according to Patanjali.
YogaThe practice of asanas or postures, breathing techniques and meditation. The word yoga itself is derived from 'yuj' which means to join or yoke, to concentrate ones mind on the infinte and join with it.