Glossary of Yoga Terms

Apana: The eliminative forces of your body i.e. bodily waste/bi-products such as carbon dioxide, sweat, bowel movements, coughing, phlegm etc.

Asana: postures for health and meditation, they can be an actual exercise or the position used for a meditation.

Bhanda: body locks which direct prana and apana, they allow the effects of exercises to accumulate and equilibrium to be established. * see Jalandara and Mul bhands


Long Deep Breathing
Sit straight in easy pose, or lie down. In a smooth motion
« Inhale through the nostrils into the abdomen
« then the chest
« finally the clavicle area
« Exhale through the nostrils in the reverse order – clavicle relaxes, chest empties, abdomen empties as you pull navel in towards the spine Repeat

Breath of Fire
Sit in easy pose in neck-lock, chest up, shoulders relaxed
« Breathing powerfully through the nostrils, pumping the navel down and out on the inhale in and up on the exhale
« Each inhale and exhale should sound the same and be the same length
« Go at your own pace, more slowly for beginners
« The body and face should be very relaxed
« Beginners: try panting like a dog with the mouth open and tongue out at first. Once that is established, simply close the mouth and continue expelling and intaking the breath forcefully from the nose.

Chakras: centres of energy. Primary ones are found all along the spinal column not coincidentally with glands and nerve centres. Chakra means wheel

Guru: Teacher or teaching. Gu – darkness, Ru – light. That which turns darkness into light

Ida: The channel of energy that runs from the base of the spine up the left side of the sushmana, to the left nostril. It is associated with mind-expansion, cooling, soothing Moon energy.

Jalandar bhand: neck lock, is done by sitting with the spine straight, lifting chest upwards, pulling the chin towards the back of the neck, keeping the head centered and not tilting to either side. Keep all muscles of the face, brow, neck jaw and throat relaxed — never force the head downward.

The effects of neck- lock include:
« helps to bring an internal focus for the practitioner
« sealing the energy that is created in the upper brain stem area
« stabilizes blood pressure that can change due to exercise and breathing
« acts as a safety valve, regulating the pressure and reducing dizziness
« creates nerve reflexes that balance/stimulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands
« allows the flow of energy to remain natural and calming to the heart
« Moon center energy is contained in the chin
« increases the concentration of secretions from the pituitary gland
« allows a new interrelatedness between the glands
How do you know? You can feel it.

Kriya: A Kriya is a set of physical exercises and breathing techniques (often including mantra and eye focal points among other tools) that stimulate pressure points, glands, nerve, muscles, all the systems in the body, etc. to either detoxify or rebuild the body.

Mantra: Mantras are sounds or sound energy – put more simply, a vocalization, or sound vibrations that are created in the mouth. Their form, words, uses reflex points located on the roof of the mouth to stimulate areas of the brain. A mantra is the creative projection of the mind through sound. It has power, a structure, and a predictable effect on the human psyche and charkas (which correspond to the other body systems such as the endocrine). Vibrating the sound through the resonators in your head stimulates the meridians in the mouth. In turn, this stimulates different parts of the body, mind, and spirit. The resulting effect is that chemicals in the brain and glands are changed.

Mudra: hand positions that lock, seal, or guide the energy flow and reflexes to the brain. The areas on the hand correspond with certain parts of the body, brain, behaviours and emotions.

Mul bhand: Or root-lock, is done by contracting the anal sphincter (by pulling the muscles inward and upward), contracting the area around the sex organs, and at the same time contracting the lower abdominal muscles and the navel point towards the spine.

The effects of root-lock include:
« blending of prana and apana at the navel center
« redirection of apana to the First Chakra where it joins the downward flow of pranic energy to the navel center, creating heat and thereby opening the Shushmana or central channel for energy to flow up the spine. Root-lock also stimulates the proper flow of spinal fluid and starts the process of transformation from gross to subtle. It coordinates, stimulates, and balances the energies of the rectum, sex organs, and navel to transform sexual energy into creativity and bodily repair.

Nadis: Meridians or energy channels that flow through and bring Prana to the body. There are 72,000 Nadis in the body, 72 of which are vital. The three major Nadi are the Ida, Pingala, and Sushmana.

Navel Point: Located just below the belly button, it is the starting point of all the 72,000 nerve endings and nadis. A vital nexus of nerves, it is our power centre. It is also the central point from where your body was created upon conception.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo: Tuning in mantra for Kundalini Yoga Classes. It means: I bow to the Infinite teacher; I bow to the teacher within.

Pingala: The channel of energy that runs up the right side of the sushmana and ends at the right nostril. It is associated with stimulating, heating, energizing energy of the sun.

Prana: Life force of the atom, the positive, growth force within us. Apana is its opposite the negative eliminative force. Both are governed by the ida and pingala

Sadhana: Daily spiritual practice. Can be yoga, prayer, meditation

Sat Nam: Sat – Truth Nam – Identity – truth is my identity. This is a seed, or Bij, mantra. One of the simplest mantras used to keep the mind focused. Also used as Sa Ta Na Ma.

Sushmana: Originating at the base of the spine, it is the central energy channel that runs up the spinal column to the top of the head. It is also known as the Silver Cord. It is comprised of the right channel, the Pingala, and the left channel, the Ida. It is through this energy channel that the Kundalini is raised.

Wahe Guru: Exclamation mantra. Wahe – Wow, Guru – God (that which turns darkness into light). Wow, God is great!