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East-West Yoga Society

Following the Himalayan Tradition of Yoga and Meditation

To make the world a better place by increasing Self-awareness through the practices of yoga and meditation.

Glossary

Additional yoga terms within the context of the Himalayan Tradition to be added.

AcharyaA spiritual teacher or instructor.  Literally, one whose character and behavior should be followed by others.
AhamkaraLoosely translated as "ego ".  Together, manas, buddhi, chitta, and ahamkara comprise the four functions of the mind.   It is through ahamkara that one identifies onself with the objects of the world, feeling, for example, "I am this body".  It refers to a faculty of the mind through which pure consciousness falsely identifies itself with non-self, that is, the mind, the physical body, and material objects.
AhimsaAhimsa or "non-harming."  Ahimsa means non-injuring, non-harming, or non-violence.  The first of five moral restraints called yamas, which form the first step of the eightfold (astanga) yoga.  Their purpose is to curtail behavior which is not conducive to spiritual growth.
Ajapa JapaThe constant spontaneous awareness of one's mantra
Anahata NadaUnstruck sound.  Inner sounds, which are heard in deep meditation by the sages and lead the meditator towards the centre of silence within.
AnantaLimitless
AntahkaranaThe "inner instrument" of the mind, consisting of: manas, or the active mind; buddhi, or the rational and intuitive intelligence; citta, or the mind stuff and the reservoir or subtle impressions (samskaras); and ahamkara, the instrument of identification, the ego, or the "I-maker".
AsanaLiterally, "sitting," "position," or "posture".   The fourth of the eight limbs of raja yoga which emphasizes attainment of a steady and comfortable posture.  It later evolved into the science of physical culture called hatha yoga in which the word means one of the systems of posture.  It is carefully selected according to the nature and capacity of the student.   A good student selects a sitting posture and learns to become accomplished in it.
AtmanPure consciousness, the true Self, the unchaning, eternal truth which is beyond the entire manifest world.
Aum (Om)A sound which represents the Absolute.  According to the yogic scriptures called the Upanishads, the word Aum consists of three letters - A,U, and M - representing the waking, dreaming, and deep sleep states.  After the word Aum is pronounced, there comes a moment of silence, which represents the absolute or transcendent reality beyond these three ordinary states of awareness.  The highest of mantras, Aum is a symbol of the highest realization and knowledge.
Bandha"Lock."  An internal bodily constriction or contraction applied for the purpose of stopping or directing prana.
BhaktiLove plus reverence, to have both reference love for the other person.
BhavaEmotion, mood, devotional state of mind, feeling.
BhikshaThe act of begging or asking for alms.
BrahmamurtaThree o'clock in the morning, an auspicious time for meditation
BuddhiThe powerful faculty of the intellect.  Bhuddi has three main functions: it knows, evaluates (judges), and makes decisions.
ChittaThe pool of the unconscious mind in which all the impressions gathered by the senses are deposited, and from the bottom of which they arise to create a constant stream of random thoughts and associations.
Devas"Bright beings" or angels.
DhooniA kind of fire.
DhyanaMeditation; a one-pointed state of mind that is not disturbed by any thought constructs.
Hatha YogaThe science of physical health that developed out of the third limb of raja yoga - asana.  It attempts, through physical postures and cleansing exercises to prepare the student for higher practices in yoga.
IdaOne of the three principle energy channels flowing in the spinal chord.  It controls the breath in the left nostril.
JapaRepition of one's mantra.  Constant japa is an excellent technique for making the mind one-pointed.  Japa as a practice is complete in itself, provided it is done with knowledge and full devotion.
KamaThe first of all emotions is kama, the prime desire.  Kama is the mother of all other desires, and it gives rise to both the desire to satisfy or gratify the senses, and the beneficial desire to help others selflessly.
KoshaBody or sheath.
KrodhaThe emotions of anger.
KriyaAction;activity  bnsp;Kriya yoga in this context means the path of action.
KundaliniThe inner fire or fundamental life-energy.   Kundalini in its dormant, coiled state resides at the base of the spine.  By following a systemic discipline of pranayama, meditation, and mantra japa one prepares oneself for kundalini awakening.
LobhaGreed
MahabhavaThe state of ecstasy.
Maitri AsanaFriendship pose, a meditative posture involving sitting on a chair or platform.
ManasMind.  One of the inner mental instruments.   It receives information from the external world with the help of the senses, and presents it to the higher faculty of intellect.  This particular faculty is also characterized by doubt and raises questions.
MantraA combination of syllables or words corresponding to a particular energy vibration.  The student, when initiated by a qualified teacher, utilizes the mantra as his object for meditation.  As he practices over a period of time, the mantra gradually leads his meditation deeper and deeper.  Through constant mantra repetition, both during meditation and active life, the power of the mantra and its inner significance will gradually unfold as its latent mental and spiritual energies are released.
Mantra SetuThe practice which helps the meditator make the mind one-pointed and inward, and then finally leads to the Center of Consciousness
MohaAttachment, the sense "This is mine!"
MudaPride
MudraCertain bodily gestures, like the finger lock, that are used to deepen meditation.
NadiEnergy channel, one of the subtle channels of the body.
Nadi ShodhanamLiterally, "purifying the nadis".  A breathing exercise that purifies the nadis in preparation for the higher practices of pranayama.  Also known as channel purification or alternate nostril breathing, it attempts to quiet the mind and regulate the breathing by establishing a slow, easy rhythm, without a pause between the inhalation and exhalation.
NirodhaControl; not in the sense of suppression, but channeling or regulating
NiyamasThe set of five personal commitments or observances.  The second limb of the "eight-limbed" system of Raja Yoga described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The niyamas attemtp to cultivate positive habits which are conducive to self-realization.
OmSeeAum
PadmasanaThe lotus posture.  A seated posture for breathing exercises.
PatanjaliA sage who was a codifier of yoga science
PingalaOne of the three nadis or energy channels running parallel to the spinal column.  It controls the flow of breath in the right nostril.  When this channel becomes active, one's behavior is characterized by rationality, activity, and energy.
PranaThe life force.  In the yogic tradition, prana is said to take ten forms, depending on its nature and function.
PranayamaVoluntary control over the pranic force; the fourth rung of raja yoga.  The science of gradually lengthening and controlling the physical breath in order to gain control over the movement of prana through the subtle body in higher stages of yogic practice.
PreyasThere are two categories of objects described in the Upanishads: shreyas and preyas.  Preyas mean that which is pleasant, and shreyas mean that which is helpful.
Raja YogaLiterally, "royal path".  The eightfold path of yoga as described by Patanjali in theYoga Sutras.
RajasOne of the gunas (attributes of prakrti); activity.  Rajas impels and energizes, overcoming stagnation.
SadhanaPractice, spiritual endeavour.  Literally, "accomplishing" or "fulfilling."  Sadhana is the word for a student's sincere efforts along a particular path of practice toward self-realization.
SamadhiSpiritual absorption, the eighth rung of raja yoga.  The tranquil state of mind in which fluctuations of the mind no long arise.
SamskarasSubtle impressions left in the mind by past actions.
Sankalpa ShaktiThe mental power of dynamic will or resolution.
Sankalpa VikalpaConstant doubt in the mind.
SatsangaCompany of the sages.
SattvaA guna (attribute of prakrti).  The sattva guna is characterized by purity, luminosity, lightness, harmony, and the production of pleasure.  It is the purest of the three gunas.
Seva"The word service " in Sanskrit is seva, which also means "to enjoy."
Shadi"Happiness" or "marriage."
ShantiPeace
ShavasanaThe corpse posture.  A posture involving lying on one's back for relaxation.
ShreyasThere are two categories of objects described in the Upanishads: shreyas and preyas.  Shreyas mean that which is helpful.
SidhiAccomplishment, perfection, achievement.  In practicing yoga, as one progresses toward the centre of consciousness, advanced human potentials may unfold which can be very attractive and distracting.  The goal of yoga is not to become caught by these supernatural abilities but to go beyond.
SiddhasanaThe accomplished posture.  A sitting posture used for breathing exercises and meditation.
SukhasanaThe easy posture.  A sitting posture used for breathing exercises and meditation.
SushumnaThe central energy channel or nadis that runs along the spinal column from its base to the crown of the head.  The goal of preliminary breathing exercises is to open this central channel so that both nostrils are flowing equally.  Then the mind enters a joyful state in which it easily attains a deep state of meditation.
SwarodayaThe ancient science of breath through which the sages learned much about human functioning and subtler energies.
SwastikasanaThe auspicious posture.  A sitting posture used for breathing exercises and meditation.
TattvaElement.  There are five physical elements; earth, water, fire, air, and space, and numerous subtle elements.
TratakaThe practice of gazing in order to strengthen concentration.
YogaThe word yoga is generated for the Sanskrit root yuj, which means union.  It is the systematic application of certain practices with proven effects and benefits.
Yoga SutrasA manual on raja yoga compiled by the sage Patanjali around 200 B.C.  It describes the basic outline of yoga philosophy and practice.