Glossary of Terms
Agni – Fire. Personification of fire: the God of fire. Likewise, it refers to the inner fires of the body, generally referred as “covers”, meaning sacred temperature.
Agni-Sara Dhauti – Literally it means “to purge through the fire cascade”. One of the six kriyas, agni-Sara dhauti consists of a series of fast abdominal contractions (rising) or uddhyana bandha. This technique increases the body temperature (agni/covers) in the body while toning up the muscles that protect the internal organs. This temperature quickly burns calories in the abdominal region.
Agni Kumbhaka – In yoga it is the “breathing of fire”. This complex breathing technique combines kapalabhati, bastrika, dirgha svasam, rechaka kumbhaka, bandha-triya and an intense pratyahara. In the most advanced techniques, it is combined with sapta bandha and dharana mudra in yantras, as well as with specific mantras associated with the main chakras.
Ajna Chakra – Literally, it is the “wheel of command”. It is also known as the “Third eye” or “the eye of Shiva”. It is the sixth chakra located in-between the eyebrows. Usually Shiva is represented with the “third eye” open so as to signalize its divine vision.
Akasha – Space: Opening
Anahata Chakra – It literally means “wheel of the un-blocked (sound)”. It is the fourth Main Chakra located near the heart.
Anata – It literally means “endless”. The second chakra is associated with the respiratory system and closely related to the anahata chakra in the heart. It is also the name of the great coiling serpent on which Vishnu reclines while the serpent blocks him the light and casts a shadow with its seven hoods.
Antara Kumbhaka – Holding one’s breath after inhaling. .
Asana – It literally means “seated” or “comfortable position”. It is third of the eight principles of the Yoga of Patanjali. Originally, the word referred only to several seated positions for meditation. In tantra and Hatha yoga, Asana applies to all the positions of the body.
Ashram – It is a school or center of yoga. A community of individuals with the same mentality. Any spiritual community or establishment. The residents of ashram typically live under an economic cooperative or are sustained by donations of the bigger communities from outside the ashram. In many ways, the ashram resembles a monastic community.
Ashrama – Commonly referred as ashram in the modern languages indues, asharama makes reference to any of the four stages in the ideal life of a Hindu, namely, brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa.
Astanga – “Eighth principle”. The eight parts or stages in which Patanjali divided up the practice of yoga when he traveled through India in the year 200 A.C. approximately. He studied everything that could took the name yoga, and soon he prepared a treaty where he analyzed in a systematic fashion the structure and function of yoga techniques.
Astanga yoga – The “eight principles” of the classic raja yoga, as it was taught by Patanjali and as indicated in its treaty The Yoga Sutras. This text is the single most venerated work on yoga ever composed and it is definitive text on raja yoga.
Aswani Mudra – It literally means “the seal of the horse” or “gesture of the horse”. It is a rhythmical and continuous contraction and relaxation of mula bandha aimed at fortifying the muscle of the anus in preparation for the bandha.
Atman – In the word atman, the root Sanskrit root “at” means “to move”. The second root, “an”, means “to breathe” or “to live”. Atman is “the breathing that moves”, or the “spirit in motion”. In other words, a living being, in motion and breathing: a person.
In everyday life, the word atman means “person” or “being” just like these are employed in English or Spanish. In the esoteric language of India, as used in yoga texts, whether philosophical or religious, the word atman refers to the “Being”, just like in English or Spanish we make reference to the “Spirit”, or the true essence of a person, our true nature or ideal being.
Neither the word “spirit” nor “soul” corresponds exactly with the meaning of atman. There is no whether English or Spanish equivalent word. Atman is the essence of each person as distinguished from his or her appearance.
Aum (Om) – It is the mystical syllable that represents, among other things, everything that is, everything that was and everything that shall be.
Ayurveda – It is the Vedic science of the sacred health or medicine. It is considered as a supplement to Athara, which forms the basis of most of its textual authoritativeness. Yoga and Ayurveda always have been in close proximity to each other. Yoga deals with physiology (both subtle and physics), whereas Ayurveda deals with pharmacology (whether esoteric or scientific).
Bahya Kumbhaka – Holding one’s breath after exhaling..
Bandha – It literally means “to tie or to moor”. In Yoga the word makes reference to several muscular contractions or “closings” used to hold one’s breathing, prana or energy in a determined area of the body.
Bandha Triya – It literally means “the triple closing” consisting of mula bandha, uddhyana bandha and jalandhara bandha performed simultaneously in order to seal the ends of sushumna nadi, forcing the prana towards Manipura Chakra where they are purified and prepared to be sent towards sushumna nadi until chakra of the crown.
This process is also known as the waking up of kundalini, thus Shakti (the feminine principle), that resides like a coiled serpent, Kundalini, in the basic chakra, which can make its union with Shiva (the masculine principle) in chakra of the crown, where it handles the Great White Swan of the released being.
Brahma – Member of the Hindu Trinity, Brahma is the creative God. Vishnu is the conservative and Shiva the destroyer. The most important work of Brahma was creating the universe, and having essentially finished it, He is not very interested in human affairs, for which reason He is neither widely nor devoutly worshipped.
Brahmacharya – It literally means a “student of God”. In everyday language it refers to him or her who is celibate. It is the first ashrama, or stage of life in classic India. The years of childhood, schooling and apprenticeship.
Brahman – The root “brih” means to grow, to increase, to expand. The root “an” means to breathe or to live. Brahman is the spirit/breath that expands. The principle of life that has expanded to become the entire universe.
The Vedas speak about day and night of the Brahman, making reference to long periods of time during which the principle of universal life may manifest itself (like now, being the Day of Brahma) or not (like before the Bing Bang, when nothing existed except for singularity – when the entire universe was reduced to less than the size of a neutron, known like the Night of the Brahman). According to ancestral texts, this cycle keeps going forever.
95% of the universe is not matter the way we see it our eyes, but rather matter that our eyes cannot see. Matter whose nature mystifies astronomers and cosmologists alike. Two thirds of this matter is seemingly an intriguing type of matter known as dark energy, and is considered as the driving force behind the swift expansion of the universe.
“Brahman” is sometimes used instead of “Brahmin.”
Brahmin – A priest; also, a sacerdotal caste. .
Chakra – A wheel, specially a light wheel. It refers to any of the numerous energy centers located inside and around the body that the clairvoyants perceive like wheels in motion. The seven main chackras are located along the column, from its base to the crown.
According to the philosophy of Yoga, the vital force (prana) activates these centers. If some chackras are under- or over-energized, there will be no harmony or there will be disease in the body. This state is known as “no balance state”.
One of the main goals of Hatha, Kundalini and Tantra yoga is to preserve these chackras well attuned so that the Divine energy may manifest itself through them.
Dharana – It literally means “the act of maintaining” or “firmness”, meaning to firmly maintain a thought in the mind. Concentration. It is the sixth principle of the yoga system of Patanjali.
Dhyana – It literally means “meditation”, “thought” or “reflection”. Whereas Dharana simply consists of maintaining a thought in the mind, Dhyana allows for the expansion of the mind or its reflection on that thought. It is the seventh principle of the system of Patanjali.
Dirgha Svasam – It literally means “to delve deep and to look for within oneself”.
Gheranda Samhita – The Treatise of Gheranda was written during the 17th Century and it is one of three main surviving documents of the Classic Hatha Yoga. Like several of the first writings of yoga, this text is little more than a series of notes from an instructor, who just covers the main aspects and then leaves the rest in blank to be completed orally or by demonstration.
The Gheranda Samhita consists of more or less of 351 verses, divided up in seven sections, to wit:
1- Shat Kriyas – there are 6 categories of techniques of hygiene and purification which totalize 20.
2- Asanas – there are 32 physical postures described along with their resulting benefits.
3- Mudras – There are 20 physical mudras and bandhas, and 5 dharana mudras describing only the mental focus on the chackras.
4- Pratyahara – it is a short section on the control of the mind.
5 – Pranayama – they are 8 breathing techniques with instructions on kumbhakas, focused on chackras and the application of the mudras.
6- Dhyana – they are 5 techniques of meditation.
7- Samadhi – 6 variations of mental absorption.
Gorakhnath (aka Gorak, GorakhNath, Gorakhnata, etc.)
A disciple of Matsyendranath (Matsyendra) and an early exponent of Hatha Yoga. He is credited for having founded Laya or Kundalini Yoga, as well as Hatha Yoga. Specifically, he founded an order called Kanphata Yogis, which is based on Hatha Yoga and which survives to the present time.
Goraksha and Matsyendra were both renowned yoguis who lived somewhere between the 9th and the 12th centuries. We know very little about them because, no sooner had they died, their achievements and accomplishments were mixed with myth, folklore, and magic almost to they point they become virtual deities. Innumerable legends, which trace their origin to the North and the West of India, are a testimony to their supernatural and magical powers.
Gorakhnath is known as the author of innumerable works, including Goraksha Shataka, a dialogue between him and his master Matsyendra. This text survives in many translated version, but not in its original Sanskrit version; Hatha Yoga was lost, except for small excerpts including the Hatha Yoga Pradiprika by Svatmarama. This later work is not, however, the oldest known manuscript on Hatha Yoga.
Grishastha – “The occupant”. The second ashrama or stage of life in classic India. The occupant’s years, of bread-earning and of supporting a family.
Hamsa – It literally means “swan”. Shiva leads a White Swan into his chackra of the crown, symbolizing the spirit of the Divinity or the liberated being.
Hamsa Kumbhaka – The breathing of the swan. It is a smooth yet powerful pranayama used in meditation to guide Shakti towards the swan. It is breathing for meditation in each chackra, which proceeds progressively upwards by shushumna, up until all yantras can be held in the mind (dhyana) during the same breathing.
Hamsa Mantra (hamsa japa) – It is the continuous chanting of hamsa. If the word hamsa is continually and quickly repeated, it becomes indistinct with “so-ham” sung quickly. Put together they mean: I am a liberated spirit.
Hatha – Ha and yang, both represent the masculine polarities or the suns, whereas and the yin represent the feminine polarities or the moons. The Term Hatha Yoga, then, makes reference to the integration of (seemingly) opposites in an union or complete whole.
Hatha Yoga – In India, during the Middle Ages, Hatha Yoga and Tantra yoga were detached from their common roots, which stretched in essence to the prehistoric Valleys of the Hindu Culture of the third millennium A.C.
Hatha Yoga adopted an existential and ascetic approach, under the belief that integration with the Divinity would be faster (and stronger) when the person in question lives an ascetic and celibate life in retirement.
Most yoga positions that are familiar to Westerners are part of the Hatha Yoga tradition. Technically speaking, the term means “personal integration through the union of opposites.” Hatha Yoga looks to to eliminate any false sense of duality between the practitioner and the spiritual universal reality (Brahman). The conscious practice of physical positions (asanas), and specifically modified breathings and other techniques, help to integrate body, mind and spirit.
Tantra Yoga developed in fine contrast with the heritage of yoga and the ascetic common principles of Hatha Yoga. Tantra yoguis aim at integrating the polarities like the occupants (inhabitants): Couples who live together and who enjoy the pleasures, amusements, and luxuries of life (tantra of the right hand), or in other more exotic unions (tantra of the left hand).
Hatha Yoga Pradiprika – This text, written in the 14th Century by Svatmarana Wisdom, is the most significative and oldest manuscript dedicated specifically to the Hatha Yoga which has survived. Previous texts describe the materials that precede the foundation of Hatha Yoga, which was not established as a separate form until around the years 700 – 100 A.C. A previous text, written by Gorakhnath and called Hatha Yoga was available in the times of Svatmarama, and some sections evern reproduced in its Pradipika. Unfortunately, this previous text was lost. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika is composed of approximately 383 verses, divided up in four sections, as follows:
1. Asanas: 5 basic positions for meditation and 10 for the back’s flexibility or for
deep relaxation. It also includes some dietary guidelines.
2. Pranayama: Suddhis Nadis to purify the subtlest Nadis and 7 kriyas for the physical nadis
3. Mudras: A deep description of 10 mudras.
4. Samadhi: 3 additional mudras (sambhavi and two related techniques) and the elaboration of kechari-mudra. It is also emphasized in several sounds (nothingness) that originate in in sushumna nadi whereas the prana flows in there. The sounds help to focus the mind and offer to the yogui information on his progress in Samadhi.
Ida – “Channel of consolation, tranquility, containment (comfort). This is one of the three primary currents of vital force flowing through the body. It is located on the left of Sushumna nadi and it is associated with the energy of cooling down of the inner moon. The current of Ida corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system.
Jalandhara Bandha – It is the “closing of the pear jaw” and it is used to prevent the premature, ascending motion of prana, sending it towards Manipura Chackra, where it is Transmuted and redirected to the central nadi sushumna.
Japa – Literally, it means “repetition”. It is often used as synonymous for mantra.
Jiva-mukta – Spiritual liberation. Jiva means life and mukta means liberation. Jiva-mukta is
spiritual liberation while it is living in a mortal body.
Jiva-mukti – It is he who has found spiritual liberation while living in the body.
Kalpa – It is an immense period of time equal to a thousand years (Yugas). Ageless and timeless. A Kalpa amounts to a day for Brahma, and is used to measure the age of the world (being 1000 Yugas, or 4320 million years).
Karma – Literally, it means “action”. In the West, Karma is misunderstood and considered
as the result of our actions. This is the other way around. Phalam (fruit) is what
follows from our actions. Karma, on the other hand, are the actions themselves, rather than what follows from them.
The Law of Karma is the law of cause and effect. Karma (action) is the cause of resulting effects, or phalam. There are three types of Karma: actions of the body, actions of the speech and actions of the mind. Jesus taught this concept in Matthew 5:21: 22.
Kaya Kalpa – Literally, it means “ageless body”. The term Kaya means “body” and Kalpa means “ageless” or “immortal”. Kaya Kalpa is a form of Yoga and Ayurvedic medicine developed in the South of India at about the same time Hatha Yoga developed. Kaya Kalpa has three main objectives: 1. To slow down the aging process; 2. To maintain excellent physical health and youthful vitality; 3. To procrastinate physical death until after one reaches jiva-mukta or spiritual liberation of the karma’s effects.
Kechari mudra (khechari mudra) – Literally, it means “closing or gesture of the movement into space. It is an intense form of the “closing of the tongue”. It requires cutting the retainer of the tongue or the sinew under the tongue gradually for several months, in such a way that the tongue may move freely upward and backward within the nasal cavity.
Note: Kechari mudra is not recommended for the residents
Instead, nabho mudra is recommended, because it only requires folding the tip of the tongue upward and backward as much as possible. The stretching capacity of the tongue shall increase with regular practice.
Kechari mudra is sometimes used as a whole or instead of jalandhara bandha (the closing of the pear) to revert the ascending movements of prana vayu and to send it downward to be warmed it up and reenergized in Manipura. In some texts, the term kechari mudra makes reference to the act of closing the tongue and the eyes (sambhavi mudra) simultaneously.
Kevala Kumbhaka – It is the holding of spontaneous or intuitive breathing regardless of inhalation or exhalation.
Kriya – Literally, it means “an action, an intention, an initiative, an activity or a process”. In Yoga, kriya usually makes reference to any of the 6 categories of the hygiene and purification processes, known as shat-kriya or the six cleaning steps. In fact there are about 20 different kriyas, since there are many specific techniques included within those six categories. Each one of them is described in detail in the Gheranda Samhita.
Kumbhaka – Literally, it means “like in a pot”. In Yoga, kumbhaka makes reference to the retention of breathing. The breathing may be retained after inhalation (antara kumbhaka), after exhalation (bhaya kumbhaka), or automatically at any intermediate point (kevala kumbhaka). In the breathing of Yoga, where we focus on the sacred breathing (prana), we prepare the body to become sacred “Caliz” of divine fluid.
Kumbhaka mudra (kumbhaka bandha, hridya mudra, etc.) – Kumbhaka mudra literally means “the closing of Caliz” or “the gesture of Caliz”. Kumbhaka bandha is the “closing of Caliz” and hridya mudra is the “closing of the heart”, “gesture of the heart” or “gesture of gratitude”. Kumbhaka mudra (or bandha) is one of the most advanced closings used to control the fluctuation of prana in the body. It is performed through the contraction and the symmetrical raising of the muscles of the chest, usually during rechaka kumbhaka, or retention of the internal breathing. In the physical body, this pressurizes the air in the lungs and promotes internal (cellular) breathing. In the subtle body, it helps to lead the prana (Kundalini) towards the center of the heart, opening or energizing it before impelling the prana to the following center.
It is the divine, powerful serpent that slept in Muladhara Chackra. This energy is stimulated by practicing of Yoga and it is possible being waked up and it raises through chackras main until the Lotus of Thousand Petals located in the crown. This is the objective of most of the ways of yoga physical.
Kundalini Yoga (Laya Yoga) – It is an intense form of Hatha Yoga that puts great emphasis in strong pranayama techniques in order to raise the body temperature, which in turn is thought to raise the dormant shakti energy (Kundalini) which resides at the base of our column. Some say that Gorakhnath founded the Hatha and the Kundalini Yoga. This is possible since both are similar, except for some details, and so they may very well have developed from a common root many centuries ago.
Laya Yoga – Laya means “absorption” or “dissolution” of the mind.
A variant of the Kundalini Yoga, Laya Yoga awakes latent powers of the Kundalini, causing the rise from Muladhara towards Ajna (or higher), but dissolving the mind (conscience) and giving rise to a state of superior conscience of Samadhi or Turiya.
Moreover, “yoga of the absorption’ in the current of sound (nadam), aka Nada Yoga.
Literally, it means “falo”. The masculine principle and the symbol of the masculinity. Lingam is a common symbol for Shiva.
Maha Mudra – Literally, it means “the great closing” or “Great Gesture”. The position of the head towards the knee (alternate stretching of the legs) made with puraka kumbhaka, bandha triya and yantra meditation.
Maha Samadhi – Literally, it means the “Great Samadhi” or “Great Absorption”. Ideally, this would be the final conscience of a spiritual teacher as he exits his body, just as Jesus said “to yield his breathing”, while he was on the Cross; or when Paramahansa Yogananda left this world in 1952. In reality, it refers to the death of a venerated figure.
Maithuna – It is pronounced mi-tuna. It is a sacred ritual of love making of Tantra Yoga that helps couples to wake up the kundalini together.
Manipura Chackra – Literally, it means “the wheel of the Jewel of the City”. This chackra is the third of the main chackras, and it is located just behind the navel.
Mantra – Literally, it means “instrument of the thought”. It is a prayer song. A mystical verse or a magic formula used to invoke the deity or to acquire divine power. It makes reference to any word, phrase or prayer used in meditation. The Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary are two classic examples of Christian mantras.
Marga (margha) – Literally, it means “step” or “path”. In the terminology of yoga, it refers to a particular spiritual path, such as for instance bhakti marga, which means “the path of the devotion”.
Matsyendranath (Matsyendra, Matsyendra Nath, Matsendranathe, etc) – It is the master or guru of Goraknath (Goraksha), and an early exponent of Hatha Yoga.
Mudra – Literally, it means “closing” or “gesture”. In many Hindu forms of dance, thousands of these mudras – specific gestures with the face, the hands, the arms and the body – are recognized. In yoga, mudra is a specific muscular contraction (bandhas), positions of the body (asanas) and concentration areas (dharanas), which are used in order to locate or to control the movement of the pranic energy.
The Gheranda Samhita contains a listing of 20 physical mudras and of 5 dharana mudras. The latter ones specify the meaning of concentration (dharana) in each one of the first five main chackras (the five centers associated with the physical elements).
Mula Bandha – Literally, it means the “closing from the by root”. It is performed by contracting the muscles of the anus, and it is used to redirect downwards the apana vayu and to then send it upwards.
Muladhara Chackra – Literally meaning “root support wheel.” This chakra is the first of the major energy centers, located near the coccyx. Opens backwards.
Nabho Mudra – Fold the lower section of the tongue upwards, then press it against the palate, extending the tip of the tongue backwards and towards the soft palate, all the while retaining the air in the lungs. This technique of “closing of the tongue” should be practiced like a real bandha through the pressure of the tongue upwards and backwards. When it is performed in this fashion, nabho mudra automatically suppresses the nonsensical self-conversation, the inner dialogue and the mind’s fluctuations. It is used instead of kechari mudra, and it does not require the cutting of the retainer or sinew of the tongue.
Nadi – “Water running, a river, or current; any tube or channel, specially a tubular organ (like a vein or artery of the body)”.
In Yoga, nadi makes reference to the channels of the subtle body by which journeys the prana and the kundalini, as well as to the channels and veins of the physical body.
The main Nadi is Sushumna, the central nerve that connects chackras and through which the Kundalini Shakti ascends. It is said that Sushumna is located in the center of the column. Surrounding it there are two secondary nadis, ida and pingala (both associated with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system).
In many techniques of pranayama, ida and pingala represent the left and right nostrils, respectively. Ida is feminine, ying, lunar and receptive. Pingala is masculine: yang, solar and active. Recent research studies have shown that lunar breathing through the left nostril, called Chandra bedha, helps to activate the right cerebral hemisphere (more intuitive), while the breathing through the right nostril, called surya bheda, helps to activate the left cerebral hemisphere (more logical or analytical).
There are thousands of nadis throughout the subtle body, as well as thousands of nerves and veins throughout the physical body. According to the Shiva Samhita, there are nadis 350,000, of which fourteen are developed. From these fourteen, only ida, pingala and Sushumna are considered of vital importance in the practice of yoga. Hatha Yoga Pradiprika and other sources mention about 72,000 nadis. These numbers are symbolic and based on Hindu numerology. Its exact meaning must have been understood differently by the ancient masters. All of them are in agreement about the importance of ida, pingala and Sushumna, the latter being the most important of all.
Nama-Rupa – Literally, it means “name and form.” It is the linguistic reference, the visual and standard tactile to a living being and to any other object on the universe. It is distinguished from sva-bhava, a person or object have a real life, or from Atman, the “real being”.
The term namarupa is used frequently in Buddhist and post-Buddhist literature to represent the esoteric nature of things, as opposed to their true nature.
Niyama – It is a moral rule. It is the second principle of the Ashtanga Yoga Patanjali system.
Om (Aum) – “Om” is the erroneous pronunciation of the most common “Aum.” In fact there are three sounds different from Aum, but to spell it “Om”, at least in English, is correct, since “O” is the phonetic equivalent of “Au.”
Om Mani Padme Hum – Literally, it means “the jewel in the Lotus” meaning “lingam in yoni”. It is an ancient and sacred tantric mantra, among other things, to the Maithuna ritual.
Padma – Lotus. Lotus Flowe3r. It is another name for chackras, because sometimes they are represented as wheels in motion, and some other times as flowers of lotus.
Patanjali – He is the author of Yoga Sutras. Patanjali lived between the 200 AC and 200 BC, but the exact date remains unknown. Patanjali traveled throughout most of India, studying and analyzing what different practitioners and masters were doing under the name of “Yoga”. Patanjali probably did not contribute new ideas to the practice of yoga, but rather proffered an invaluable structural analysis of yoga at the time.
Phalam – Literally, it means “fruit”. The fruit of Karma. It is used in esoteric texts to make reference to the results or consequences of our actions (karmas). It is what Jesus meant when he said that “He shall be known through His fruits.”
Pingala – It literally means “yellowish current”. It is one of the three primary channels of the vital force. It is located to the right of the central duct (sushumna nadi) and it is associated to the sun. It is responsible for the temperature of the body. On the physical plane, it corresponds to the parasympathetic nervous system.
Prana – The root “prana” means to fill. The root “an” means to breathe or to live. Prana is “the life that fills with breathing”. In other words, the principle of life in action. Prana is commonly translated as air, breathing, spirit, life, vital force, energy, subtle energy, or the currents of energy in ascending motion in the body.
Pranayama – Literally, it means “breathing control”. It is any of the hundreds of therapeutic breathing patterns employed in any of the yoga forms or martial arts. It is the fourth principle of Patanjali Yoga.
Pratyhara – To engage in retrospection of the senses to detect subtle currents and the energy centers within the body. It is the fifth of The Patanjali Yoga Principles
Purakak Kumbhaka – It is the holding of one’s breathing after inhalation. It is just like antara kumbhaka.
Rechaka Kumbhaka – It is the holding of one’s breathing after exhalation. It is just like bahya kumbhaka.
Sahasrara Chackra – Literally, it means the “wheel of the thousand petals”. Chackra of the crown is the seventh of the main centers of energy; it is located right above the head’s crown (where the soft part in a baby’s head is located). It is opened slightly backwards.
Samadhi – Literally, it means “to put together”, or “together or in combination with” as well as unity of state.
In yoga, Samadhi may have anyone of the following meaning:
1. Engrossed in meditation.
2. A state of deep meditation or devotion.
3. Intense attention or fixation of the mind in something.
4. Attention, intense absorption or any kind of a trance.
5. Concentration of thoughts.
6. Deep or abstract meditation.
7. Intense concentration on any object in particular so that the yogui identifies himself or herself with the object of meditation. In other words, in Samadhi, the practitioner, through perception and experience, merges with the environment.
This it is the state of “Atman” or “Turiay” (the room).
Then, Samadhi refers to any of the highest levels of conscience, in or out of trance. These states may be reached through the practice of Yoga or through other means. It is the eighth and last Principle of Patanjali Yoga. Most of the systems of Hatha Yoga see the Samadhi like a state which is attained at the very end. In Buddhism, Samadhi is the fourth state, and the end of Dhyana or intense abstract meditation.
There are many levels of Samadhi, and they receive different names. Most basic forms of this absorption are called saguna-samadhi (with attributes), savitarka-samadhi (with deliberation), savikalpa samadhi (with change), savichara-samadhi (with reflection), sabija-samadhi (with seed), etc.
The most elevated forms of this absorption are called nirguna-samadhi (without attributes), nirvitarka-samadhi (without deliberation), nirvikalpa-samadhi (without changes or differences), nirvichara-samadhi (without reflection), nirbija-samadhi (without seed), etc.
Sambhavi Mudra – “Relative to Shiva”. There are many different techniques that go under this name and translations are not consistent. In this text we make reference to the “closing or gesture of the eyes”, when one rolls the eyes upwards, inwards and towards “the third eye” or “eye of Shiva”, located in-between the eyebrows (Ajna Chackra).
Rolling the eyes upwards and to the left allows the brain to visualized stored recollections. Rolling them upwards and to the right allows for construction of new visual recollections. These techniques cause the right eye to gain access to stored recollections, while the left eye gains access to creative images. At the cognitive level this produces a third way through the brain may see, creating almost literally a “third eye”. In addition, this technique fortifies the muscles of the sight.
This dual modality of visual access also has the effect of limiting the ability to start an inner dialogue. Kechari o nabho mudra also help to suppress the inner dialogue through a weakening of the micro-movements of the tongue that are concomitant with the inner dialogue and the sub-vocalizations, be they conscious or unconscious. These two techniques, the closing of the eye and the tongue are in general performed together , and they are excellent techniques to use in the tantric and mantric meditations since working in conjunction they help to control the hearing as well as the visual processes of the brain.
Samavritti (samavritti kumbhaka, samavritti pranayama) – Literally, it means “equal movements”. It is the technique of equal breathing. This technique of controlled breathing may be practiced by dividing up the breathing process into 2, 3 or 4 equal parts, for example: inhalation-exhalation; inhalation-retention-exhalation; or, inhalation, retention, exhalation, retention.
Samhita – It refers to any methodical collection of verses and texts. It is also the name for several works, such as Shiva Smahita, Gheranda Samhita, etc. A “resignee”. It is the fourth Ashrama or stage of life in classic India, when one abandons the security of living as a hermit and goes on to live as a hermit adrift, without any possessions, just the clothes that one is wearing and a small wood container to eat.
Sapta mudra (sapta bandha) – It is the “closing of the seven folding” or the “closing of the seven routes”. It is a very powerful and advanced technique that consists of bandha triya and four more additional gestures or seals: yoni mudra, kumbhaka mudra, kechari mudra (or nabho mudra) and sambhavi mudra, in all of which are concentrated, whether simultaneously or progressively, the six main chackras, helping to carry the force of the prana energy towards Sahasrara Chackra on the crown. Sapta bandha applies in the fire breathing during puraka kumbhaka.
This technique must not be performed by people with high blood pressure, or heart weaknesses, or by those prone to dizziness or faints.
Sahivism – The work of Shiva like a Supreme Being. It is one of the most important sectarian branches of Hinduism.
Shakti – Literally, it means “power”, “ability”, “strength” or “energy.” Yin for the feminine aspect of the Divine creative expression in which Yoga is considered as residing at the base of the column in Muladhara Chackra. Sometimes it is used as a synonym for kundalini. It is the feminine individual in a tantric relationship.
Shiva (Siva) – Literally, it means “auspicious”, “favorable”, “benign” or “benevolent”. Yang or the masculine aspect of the Divine creative expression, which in Yoga is considered to reside on the crown of the head in Sahasrara Chackra. Shiva is distinguished from Shakti, the yin or feminine aspect of the creative force, that resides (as kundalini) at the base of the column in Muladhara Chackra.
As member of the Hindu Trinity, Shiva is the destroyer (of the ignorance).
It is the masculine self in a tantric relationship.
Shiva is the patron of the deity in Yoga, its author and protector. All of the yoga vidya (the knowledge or science of spiritual integration with the divinity) emanates from Shiva.
Shiva Samhita – The Compendium of Shiva was written during the 18th Century by an unknown author who writes as if Shiva in person were speaking. The work frequently alludes to the Tantras, and there is a distinctive Buddhist influence throughout the text. It is one of the three most important surviving treatises on Hatha Yoga. Just like several of the first writings in Yoga, the text is structured as notes from the instructor. It covers the main aspects of Yoga, while leaving details to be filled in orally.
The Shiva Samhita consists of about 645 verses (128 had been lost in the translation of 1914), divided up in five sections, in the following fashion:
1. No Duality: Holding that only conscience exists, the first section has
suggestions of both advaita-edenta (Hindu school of no duality introduced by
Mandukay Upanishad and popularized by Shankara) and vijanavada (a Buddhist
philosophy according to which only conscience exists and nothing else).
2. Subtle body: It describes the system of nadis, discussing at great length the most important ones, while briefly introducing the idea of chackras. The role of
karma is also explained.
3. Pranayama: It discusses the student-master relationship, the requirements to be successful in yoga, it introduces pranayama (nadi suddhi), though it is not very well explained, and it also mentions the siddhis.
4. Mudras: It introduces Yoni mudra to awake the kundalini, as well as 10 additional mudras which are described in order to awake kundalini, but the instructions are not as clear as those offered by the Gheranda Samhita and the Hatha Yoga Pradiprika.
5. The practice of Yoga: It introduces the main obstacles for the practice of
yoga, four main types of yoga are mentioned and the seven main chackras are described with great detail. In this final Section is where the text really shines, even though it is not exempt from errors, at least in the English translation from the year 1914.
So Hum – Literally, it means “I am”. If one sings so-ham quickly and in succession, it becomes indistinguishable from “hamsa”. Together they mean “I am the Swan” – the liberated spirit.
Sunyata – Literally, it means “to persevere after the void”, without which it would have no value or function. A cup that is not empty cannot hold liquid. A room that is not empty cannot lodge people. A person (atman) who is no empty (for example, pure) may not reach a state of divinity (Atman).
Shushumna Nadi – The first central nervous channel of the subtle body. It rises from the chackra root (Muladhara) to the crown (Sahasrara). Shushumna nadi connects the seven main chackras. This is the only road that Kundalini takes, if it is the case that it is going to rise until Sahasrara and to awake our perceptions of the conscience of Shiva (Atman).
Sva-Bhava (svabhava or swabava) – Literally, it means “the being itself”. It is the true nature of any given thing, as opposed to its appearance, mamarupa.
Svadishtana Chackra – Literally, it means “the permanent being itself” or “the abode of the being”, being the main second chackra located in the zone of the genitals organs. This is the center of creativity and generation of the subtle body.
Svatmarama Yogendra (Atmarana) – This fourteenth Gentleman of Yoga (Yogendra) is the author of Hatha Yoga Pradiprika, the oldest surviving manuscript on Hatha Yoga. A previous work (now lost) called simply Hatha Yoga and written by Goraksha was apparently available to Svatmarana, since students maintain incorporate sections of the latter to the Pradiprika.
Its name may indicate that it belongs to an order of swamis (Swami Rama) in the Yoga tradition of Shiva, or it may be a short form of sva-atma-rama (one-spirit-god) suggesting that he has reached the common goal in Yoga (nirguna-samadhi) and Vedanta (turiya) and that therefore it shares the “same spirit with God.” Both schools are represented in their writings in conjunction with the Yoga Shiva tradition of the time.
Tantra – Literally, it means “loom”, “scheme”, “structure”, and “essential part”. It is used
to suggest the two cosmic principles (masculine-feminine; ying-yang; ha-tha) that
conform the interweave of a piece of fabric in the life of the universe.
1. The term tantra makes reference to post-Upanishad literature, which dates from the year 700-1000 CE. The texts of Tantra mostly make reference to
religious, magic and heterodox practices, specially used to attract the Divine
and magic powers of oneself. These medieval Tantras form the basis of modern Tantric beliefs and practices.
2. Modern Tantra (c. 1000 C.E. until the present) is generally divided up in two ways:
-The left way (vama-margha) is like the dark way of Voodoo. It uses the
power of magic to feel more powerful and to frighten and
control ignorant and superstitious people. This aspect of tantra is very
much feared in many parts of rural India, even in these days.
-The right way (dakshina margha) is a system of beliefs and spiritual
practices designed to attract magical or spiritual powers through the
Immersion in the currents of universal divine force or energy. Tantrikas
(practitioner of Tantric rituals) use these cosmic forces (known as a whole as Shakti or kundalini) to activate the chackras (or subtle glands) in the human body. It is here where tantra practice and traditional yoga begin to intertwine.
Vidya – Literally, it means “knowledge”, “wisdom” or “silence”. A term such as yoga vidya could being translated as (according to the context) “knowledge of yoga”, “wisdom of yoga” or “the science of yoga.”
Vishnu – Member of the Hindu Trinity. When Brahma finished creating the world, He found it lacking in life. He prayed for help and the god Vishnu entered the Earth (Vishnu means “to enter”) and filled it with living being.
Vishuddha Chackra – Literally, it means “wheel of the great purity”. It is fifth main chackra, located in the region of the throat.
Yama – It means “to control or to abstain”, “to control or to regulate”. A moral commandment or personal control. It is the first one of the eight principles of the yoga system of ashtanga of Patanjali. Yama may also be a route or way. It is the control to doubt or to feel lost.
Yama also refers to the planet Saturn, whose orbit speed is the slowest (or the most controlled) of all visible planets.
Yama and Niyama – They are the first two principles of Patanjali yoga, being five yamas and five observances of personal conduct the niyamas, those that constitute the “ten commandments” of India. They are similar to those predicated by Moses. Stability in yamas and niyamas is considered of the essence for the success of yoga practice.
Yama consists of non-violence, truth, no theft, containment and no ambition (Yoga sutras 2:30).
Niyama consists of: purity, contentment, acceptance without causing pain, spiritual study, and working in the divinity of God (Yoga sutras 2:32).
Yantra – Literally, it means any instrument used for “maintaining, controlling or adhering to an idea.” In yoga a yantra is a visual symbol used to keep the mind free of distractions during meditation.
Each chackra has its own yantra, a simple geometric design, to which colors may be added, images that surround the loto flower, deities (masculine and feminine) and their animals as a means of transportation, followed by sounds as they are perceived by the internal ear, and so on.
In the Tantra and Hatha Yoga, yantra is studied over time at progressively greater levels of detail. As ach level of detail requires memory, it is retained in meditation. The meditation is typically performed while holding one’s breath both in the breathing of the Swan and in the breathing of fire.
Yoga – Literally, it means “integration” or “union”. The root “yuj” means the yoke that unites animals to join forces and control the direction.
In the Hatha and Tetra Yoga we use pranayama, kumbhaka, mudra and bandha in order to combine bayus (internal energies or prana) and to lead this combined energy upwards towards the central channel (shushumna nadi) to create divine union – Yoga.
This is why that the breathing is so important. The purpose is to persuade the Kundalini Shakti to unite with Shiva so that we may discover our essential nature in that divine union.
Yoga Sutras – The writings of Patanjali reflect almost everything he has studied under the name of yoga over the years in India. It is an excellent treatise on the subject, and an early example of as structural as well as functional analysis.
Yoni -Literally, it means “source” or “abdomen.” The feminine principle and the feminine symbol.
Yoni Mudra – Literally, it means “the seal of yoni” or “the gesture in the source”. It is a contraction either of the vaginal muscles or the testicles. In individual practice it is used to redirect the subtle as well as the physical energy. In couple practice it is used to elevate and prolong pleasure.
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