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Glossary

QiYoga Terms - defining anatomy and physiology

English to Sanskrit & Sanskrit to English Glossary of terms


A

ABDUCTION

            The term used for a limb being swung or lifted away from the midline

ACHARYA

            Teacher; spiritual preceptor

ADDUCTION

            The coming together or returning of the limb toward the midline

AHIMSA

            Non-hurt; non-violence; non-harming; non-injury; absence of negativity from within

AJNA CHAKRA

            The mid-area between the eyebrows; also known as the third eye or the guru chakra (the latter name is derived from the fact that a student may receive telepathic communication from his guru via this chakra) and is associated with manas (mind), the face, eyes, nose, sinus and pituitary gland.  Symbolized by two deep blue, pale grey or white petals.

ANAHATA CHAKRA

            The chakra to the right of the physical heart; centre of emotion and the experience of unconditional love; “unstruck sound” – the vibration of the universe OM is heard here; the body parts associated with this chakra are the heart, lungs, ribcage and upper back.  This chakra points forward and is associated with ambition, hope, love, compassion and devotion; symbolized by twelve green or blue petals.

ANANDA

            Bliss; joy; happiness

ANANDAMAYA KOSHA

            The sheath layer of bliss.

ANATOMY

            The study of body structure.

ANATOMICAL POSITION

            The anatomical position is the term used to describe the universal starting position for describing movements.

ANTERIOR

            Toward or front.

ANNAMAYA KOSHA

            The sheath layer of the physical body; the dimension of matter.

APANA

            A pranayama responsible for removal of body wastes; circulates at the abdomen; it flows downward and controls elimination.

APARIGRAGA

            Non-attachment; non-greed; 5th Yama

ASANA

            The name for physical yogic postures

ASHRAM

            A traditional name referring to a place where yoga is lived and taught; a home of a person or group who lead a spiritual life

ASHTANGA

            It refers to Patanjali’s yoga with eight steps or limbs, as laid bare in his Yoga Sutras; it is claimed to be genuine royal (raja) yoga too

ASTEYA

            Non-stealing

ATMAN

            The self; individual soul; one’s spirit; the highest or true self as distinct from the consciousness of ego

AUM

            A mantra also spelled OM, which is described as the primordial sound; the sound through which the manifest world comes into being.

AUM NAMAH SHIVAYA

            A well-known "universal mantra" that may be repeated by anyone.

AVATAR

            An incarnation (embodiment) of a god or goddess into a human or animal form; The Hindu god Vishnu, for example, is said to have incarnated many times, as (1) a fish; (2), a tortoise, (3) a boar, (4) a man-lion, (5) a dwarf, (6) Axe-Rama, (7) Rama, (8) Krishna, and (9) Balarama. Gautama Buddha is in some of these lists too.  Also, persons that appear to embody admirable qualities may be called avatars of those qualities.

AYURVEDA

            A life science; knowledge of longevity; an ancient and traditional Indian system of medicine and medical practices coupled with rigorous ways of life and recuperation adjustments too.

ANATOMY

            The study of body structure

ANATOMIC POSITION

            The anatomic position is the term used to describe the universal starting position for describing movements.

ANTERIOR

            Toward or front

AXIAL SKELETON

            Supports the head, neck and torso.  Therefore: the skull, spinal column, ribs and sternum

APPENDICULAR SKELETON

            Supports and attaches limbs to the body.  Therefore: the shoulder girdle, upper limbs, lower limbs and pelvic girdle

ABDUCTION

            The term used for a limb being swung or lifted away from the midline

ADDUCTION

            The coming together or returning of the limb toward the midline

ATROPHY

            This occurs when muscle is not used over an extended period of time.  The muscle cells themselves reduce in size

ABDOMEN

            The front and lateral surface between the pelvis and rib cage

AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM (ANS)

            The part of the nervous system incorporating organs that can work autonomously

ARTERIES

Have thick walls and a smaller internal diameter to withstand the pressure of the blood that has just been pumped from the heart – they carry blood away from the heart.  They usually carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the rest of the body, with the exception of the pulmonary artery, which carries oxygen-poor blood to the lungs from the right ventricle of the heart

ARTERIOLES

Arteries divide into arterioles as they get further away form the heart.  Arterioles further divide into capillaries

B

BANDHA

A series of powerful locks designed to unlock blockages of energies in the body

BHAGAVAD GITA

Literally, "Song of the Lord (Krishna)".  A part of the very large Mahabharata epic poem, which contains Sri Krishna's teachings.  It has 18 chapters and 700 verses.  It has had more commentaries written than any other philosophical and religious text.

BHAKTI

To adore, serve, love and be devoted; the oldest form of yoga

BIJA

Seed, or "root". A "root" or "seed" sound or syllable of a mantra (sound)

BINDU

The source; a drop; psychic centre; the centre of a yantra, a cosmic geometric shape

BODHISATTVA

A being who, having developed the Awakening Mind (a mind infused with the aspiration to attain the state of Buddhahood), devotes his life to the task of achieving Buddhahood for the sake of sentient beings.

BONE

This is the hardest structure of the body.  There are 206 bones in a human skeleton

BRAHMAN

From the root 'brih', to grow, expand. 

(a) God or Pan (Omnipresence). 

(b) Mind (consciousness) which allows growth to take place.  Absolute

BRAHMACHARYA

Non-sensuality; continence; a Yama

BRAHMIN

The class that ranks at the apex of Hindu hierarchy

BUDDHA

The Enlightened One. (Sanskrit, "The awakened one")

BUDDHI

Intelligence

C

CHAKRA

(a) Centres of energy in the human system. Wheel; vortex of prana; psychic centre, "lotus". Chakras are subtle energy centres in the body: The main chakras in the body are situated along the spinal column. 

(b) Circle or wheel, often applied to the diagrams or yantras used in ritual worship.

CHANDRA

The moon

CHIT/CIT

Pure consciousness

CHITTA/CITTA

“Awareness” – has 3 dimensions:

  1. Gross  
  2. Subtle & “universal mind”  
  3. Casual

DHARANA

Concentration on one point, one-pointed attention.  The sixth "limb" of Ashtanga yoga.

DHARMA

Living according to one’s nature & role in life.  The term relates to laws and obligations according to such as stage of life and class.

DHYANA

Contemplation; meditation; to envision; to have the gift of insight

DISTAL

Tending away from the midline

DORSAL FLEXION

            Raising the toes via bending the ankles

DOSHA

            5 basic elements manifest themselves in the human body in 3 doshas: vata, pitta & kapha – according to the Ayuvedic tradition

Vata Dosha Characteristics

- Airy, light, fast, veiny, thin

Pitta Dosha Characteristics

- Medium height, medium build, hot, can be short tempered when out of balance

Kapha Dosha Characteristics

- Slow, sluggish, thick greasy skin and hair

E

EKAGRATA

(a)  One-pointed attention, i.e. one-pointedness.

(b)  Concentrating on one thing at a time.

EXTENSION

Joint ankle increases in size.  It is the extending outwards of a limb eg. The elbow straightens

F

FASCIA

The sheets of fibres and cells (collective referred to as connective tissue) that support the body’s organs and muscles

FLEXION

Joint angle decreases in size.  It is the inward folding of a limb eg. the elbow bends

FLACCID

Muscle with below normal tone

FOREARM

The area between the elbow and wrist, the two bones running between these points are the ulna and the radius

G

GUNA

Attribute/quality: sattva (soul) 'goodness' and 'nobleness'; rajas (state of action), and tamas (physical state) is supposed to be intertia or laziness, i.e., something quite passive. Hence, the gunas are classification devices; a guna is a classificatory attribute, or suggested quality.

GURU

Guide in a spiritual life; teacher, dispeller of a certain ignorance or 'darkness'; can be 'uplifter' also.

H

HASTA

Hand

HATHA

  • Ha = Sun  
  • Tha = Moon

Sun & moon; male & female energies; the yin & yang; a physical type of yoga.  To millions of Westerners this is a yoga of stretching and tensing parts of the while conforming to certain well composed body postures. It goes deeper than mere stretching; its yoga practices seek to redress or balance ha and tha energies, solar and lunar energies and also other pranic (vital) currents of body and mind. "Sun-moon yoga" exercises for better physical health.

HYPEREXTENSION

The extension of an angle beyond its natural range of motion eg. an elbow that extends to 190degrees (normal extension is 180degrees).  Hyperextension in itself is not an abnormality as the elbows and knees of many women have a range of motion greater than normal.

I

IDA

One of the 3 nadis; relates to the moon energy & the female principal which is also connected with the left nostril and a receptive (or passive) mentality.

INFERIOR

Below, toward the lower part of the body, or bottom

ISVARAPRANIDHANA

5th Niyama; surrender to God

ISOMETRIC

The muscle contracts but produces no movement.  eg an isometric stretch is plank pose

ISOTONIC

The muscle contracts and moves with the tension remaining unaltered within the muscle

J

JAPA

Continual remembrance of Divinity; worship through recitation, repetition of such as a sound or sound medley (mantra)

JNANA

Knowledge yoga; wisdom. Eg. Books such as “The Power of Now; A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” & “Creative Visualization”

K

KAMA

Desire, love, sensual pleasures; Eg. Sex & food

KARMA

Actions operating through the law of cause and effect, or action in the manifest or unmanifest dimension; law of cause and effect; deep impressions in life which make us think, feel and act in particular ways. This theorized "action" or results of doing" is ascribed to the inevitable law of cause and effect and may last over lifetimes.

KARMA YOGA

Path of action; selfless giving.  It aspires to harmonious activity.

KHECHARI MUDRA

Lightly placing the underside of the tip of the tongue against the upper palate.

KOSHA

The interconnected layers (sheaths) that make up the human being.  A sheath enclosing the soul, monad. Five sheaths ("envelopes"), one outside the other: the sheath of bliss, anandamaya; of intelligence, vigyanamaya; of mind, manomaya; of vital energy, pranamaya; and of food (or physical matter), annamaya. Hence, the kosha is a form; a sheath aligned with a plane or level of existence.

KRIYA

“Action” Also a style of yoga made popular in the West through Paramahansa Yogananda.  It consists of one or more techniques that involve the movement of prana and consciousness aimed at reaching inwardness of mind (dhyana, contemplation).

KUNDALINI

(a) Represented as a "coiled fire snake", a lament energy lying dormant in the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine, used for rising inwardly. 

(b) Also defined as the primordial cosmic energy located in the individual.

L

LAYA

Merging; dissolution. Rhythm, absorption; manipulates the flow of energy within the body

LATERAL

            Away from the midline.

LATERAL  EXTENSION

            Returning the body to the anatomical position eg.the elbow staightens           

LILA

Legend or divine play; sport; game

LIGAMENTS

            Tissues connecting the bone to bone

LATERAL

            Away from the midline

LATERAL  FLEXION

            Bending the body sideways eg. Triangle Pose

LATERAL EXTENSION

            Returning the body to the anatomical position eg. Mountain Pose

LYMPHATIC SYSTEM

This is a system that consists of fluid called lymph.  Vessels that convey lymph are called lymphatics.  Structures and organs all contain lymphatic tissue, but the central nervous system, bones, and cartilage do not.  It supports the circulatory system. 

M

MAHA

Great

MAHABHARATA

A Hindu epic

MANDALA

Diagram within a circumference symbolising the deeper aspects of man's psyche; complex geometrical symbol merging macrocosmic and microcosmic events.

MANIPURA

Chakra located at the spine behind the navel. It is associated with strength and power.

MANOMAYA KOSHA

 The mind sheath or the mind realm.

MANTRA

A sound, usually without meaning that is used in meditation.  Runic sound medley; subtle sound vibrations which may be good for man. Mantras are thought to be words with inherent power, also set of words to repeat and focus on and on inwardly.

MAYA

            “Veil of illusion”

MEDIAL

            Toward the midline.

MIDLINE

The centre of the body; also called median or saggital plane.  The line through the middle of the body running from the front to the back.

MOKSHA

Spiritual fulfilment; self realisation; liberation.  Freedom. Also: Ultimate freedom from material bondage.

MUDRA

Symbolic gesture, which aims at redirecting certain subtle energies.  A Sanskrit word meaning “gesture” or “attitude”; movements can manipulate mood – spiritual.

 MULADHARA CHAKRA

Basic pranic and psychic centre. Its focal point, which is the "seat of Kundalini”, is at the perineum.

MIDLINE

The centre of the body; also called median or saggital plane.  The line through the middle of the body running from the front to the back

MEDIAL

Toward the midline

MUSCLES

Muscles move the bones under the influence of the nerves.

MUSCLE TONE

Different fibres may be activated at different times, enabling partial contractions to be sustained for long durations.

MALE vs FEMALE PELVIS

The male pelvis is heavier and thicker than the female with usually more prominent bones.  The female pelvis is wider, more shallow.

N

NADI

Channel or "meridian", a passage through which energy can flow; energy channels

NAMASTE

The divine light within me salutes the divine light within you; offering my respects to you

NAULI

A Hatha yoga practice that may be good for the abdominal area

NIYAMAS

Restraint(s), or Do's. The second of the eight limbs of Pantanjali’s yoga discipline. The niyamas are observance of purity, contentment, austerities, etc.  Religious observances: 

1) Cleanliness 

2) Contentment 

3) Mortification 

4) Study 

5) Worship of God

O

OM

(Same as Aum). Universal mantra; root mantra (monosyllable) for ajna chakra; the source sound; vibration of the universe; the original mantra

P

PADMA

Lotus

PATANJALI

The Father of Yoga who defined all yoga into 8 limbs; “Ashtanga”; the ascribed author of the Yoga-Sutras, which explain facets of the Yoga system (philosophy)

PINGALA

One of the 3 nadis; nadi (vessel) connected with the right nostril conducting active vital energy; the solar aspect; the dynamic aspect; the male positive energy symbolized by the colour red; relates to the sun.  Pingala nadi is opposite Ida nadi, they curve around the central Sushumna nadi, according to the theory.

PLANTAR FLEXION

The hyperextension (over extension) of the ankle to allow the toes to point downward

POSTERIOR

Rear or back

PRAKRITI

Materialized nature and the basis of the three Gunas ("shadow qualities")

PRANA

The vital breath which sustains life in a physical body. Life energy, a force which governs health and its waning; vital energy; life force

PRANAYAMA

  • Prana "Life force energy"
  • Ayama "Breath extension"

Practices involving regulations of inhalation, exhalation and perhaps also retention of the breath in certain ways; the generic name 'pranayama' includes many techniques for doing yoga and/or meditation; utilizing the breath to influence the flow of prana; should be performed after asanas

PRATYAHARA

A certain withdrawal of the attention from the senses in Pantanjali’s yoga system

PROXIMAL

            Tending towards the midline

PUJA

Worship involving ritual components

PURUSHA

A term of samkhya philosophy, denoting the individual consciousness; In Vedanta it denotes Self; Other variations: 

(a) Pure, unmanifested consciousness 

(b) The Supreme Being

POSTERIOR

            Rear or back

PROXIMAL

            Tending towards the midline

PLANTAR FLEXION

            The hyperextension (over extension) of the ankle to allow the toes to point downward

R

RAJA

King

RAJA-YOGA

An eightfold path classified by ancient Patanjali. Its beginning steps are 

  1. Yama (five don't's) 

  2. Niyama (five do's) >

  3. Asana (posture)

  4. Pranayama (handling of the vital breath)

  5. Pratyahara (spontaneous inward-switching of the attentiveness)

  6. Dharana (concentration)

  7. Dhyana (steadied inward attentiveness)

  8. Samadhi (the culmination (samadhi) of the inward-turning). 

These eight stages form a sadhana (discipline) of rising into subtlety; it is the science of mental discipline

RAJAS

The activity guna, one of the three postulated qualities

ROTAION

Turning a body part on its axis

S

SADHANA

Yoga practice; spiritual practice, a spiritual discipline

SAHASRARA CHAKRA

The focal point is at the crown of the head, and represents pure, unchanging consciousness

SAMADHI

Absorption, mind merging with inner, higher consciousness forms, including absoluteness; self-realization; the true goal of yoga; concentration

SANNYASIN

One who renounces worldly living and embraces renunciations

SANTOSHA

Contentment; acceptance of life; one of 5 Niyamas

SATTVA

Purity; soul; one of the three; attributes/qualities

SATYA

Truth, reality; truthfulness; one of the 5 Yamas

SAUCHA

Contentment; one of the 5 Niyamas

SHAKTI

An energy or power: feminine counterpart to a god of the Hindu pantheon, especially of Shiva; It is also power, drive and force around or inside a person

SHANTI

Peace, it can be repeated three times after a fervent utterance and prayer

SHIVA

The Destroyer God. The third of a Godhead-trinity: Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Upholder, Deceiver, etc.), and Siva (Destroyer, Burner); consciousness; awareness

SUPERIOR

Top

 SUPERFICIAL

Near or on the surface; opposite to deep eg. superficial muscle lies closer to the surface, can be seen when contracted and causes movement.  In contrast, muscles that lie below the superficial muscles are called deep muscles

SUSHUMNA

Central nadi (subtle vessel) along the spine; it is hoped to be activated through balancing the currents of ida and pingala nadis etc. It is held to be the way to transcendence; regulates sexual energy in the body

SUTRA

            Sanskrit for “thread” or “string”

SURYA

            The sun

SVADHAYA

Self-study; eg. Study of the scriptures

SWAMI

Hindu monk; its literal meaning is "one with the self"; a person who truly knows themselves

T

TAMAS

The Guna representing “physical state” & feeling rotten; inertia, one of the three postulated qualities of nature along with rajas and sattva

TANTRA

The hidden side of the Vedas and Vedic living, according to some; tantras include philosophy and culture which deals with the transcendence of human nature: strengthening or evolution of man and liberation of bound-up energies; path of the feminine “Goddess”

TAPAS

Austerities, mortification, etc. through continued effort, heat; the Niyama – self discipline

TATTVA

Element. "truth thing", i.e., principle. Five elements, namely: 

  • Prithvi (earth)
  • Jal (water)
  • Agni (heat)
  • Vayu (wind)
  • Akasha (ether)

TRATAKA

Gazing at a fixed point; it is used in contemplation and meditation technique. eg candle gazing

TENDONS

Tissues connecting bone to muscle

TRAPEZIUS

A large kite shaped muscle of the upper back.  Responsible for the movement of the scapulars and shoulders

TRICEP

Positioned in the upper arm, it is the weaker muscle on the opposite side of the bicep

V

VEDANTA

The orthodox Vedanta system of philosophy contains a series of ancient philosophical treatises, often in the form of dialogues between guru and disciple, in which looming topics of life are speculated about, and ways of living are conformed to; vedic method of self realization; one of 6 philosophical systems

VEDAS

The oldest Indo-Aryan scriptures; these most ancient, extensive texts detail rituals and duties in life; Veda, from the root 'vid', means "knowledge" and also stands for "ritual lore"; the four main Vedas are the Rik (Rig), Yajur, Sama, and Atharva; sacred Hindu texts

VISHUDDHI CHAKRA

Throat chakra, the centre in the spine behind the thyroid gland; centre for expressing thoughts

Y

YAMAS

Proper and non-wicked self control of thoughts and actions tied in with such as righteousness that stems from deep inside; this meaning - restraint - lies behind the use of the word for the first of eight "steps" in Patanjali Yoga, where yama denotes what people had better not stray into, such as stealing and lying; ethics; internal purification through moral training preparatory to yoga

YANTRA

Both simple and elaborate geometric symbols aiming at liberating the intently gazing deep mind somehow; iconography of sacred geographic forms

YOGA

"Yoke" and/or "union"; there are many yogas; in practical living it is 

(1) a way or a system of methods; a philosophy not a religion; it is not just the system of solid, slow body stretching and twisting (hatha yoga); that is just one branch of the whole system. 

(2) It's also a sanskrit-based, handed-over Indian philosophy tied in with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

YOGI

One who practices yoga (male)

YOGINI

A female yogi