Sanskrit Glossary

Ananda – a state of bliss

Asana – one of the eight limbs of yoga; means “yoga posture”

Ashram – place or community setting where yoga is practiced

Asthanga – athletic style of yoga, popularly known as Power Yoga, that emphasizes strength, stamina, flexibility and the movement of heat around the body

Atma – the invisible, indivisible spirit or transcendental self which is eternal

Ayuverda – is a science of life with ‘ayur’ meaning “life” and ‘veda’ meaning “science or knowledge”. It is a wholistic body of wisdom designed to help people stay vibrant and healthy, while realizing their full human potential. It is also considered the sister science of yoga.

Bhagavad Gita – invaluable text found embedded in the Mahabharata (originally written in Sanskrit), which guides us how to honour our atma amidst the internal and external conflicts of this world. The teachings are shared as a conversation between Prince Arjuna and the avatar Krishna, in the center of a battlefield.

Bandha – energy lock

Chakras – physical or spiritual energy centers located along the spine, above the head, as well as in the hands and feet

Chit – consciousness or “true awareness”

Dharana – one of the eight limbs of yoga that means “concentration”

Dhyana – one of the eight limbs of yoga that means “meditation”

Guru – yoga master or one that guides you from the darkness to the light; one who removes the mistaken notion that consciousness arises from matter and guides the student to remember there true nature or spirit self. The Vedic guru is a gu “matter” ru “remover“.

Hatha – yogic system of bodily control, consisting of physical exercises, pranayama and meditation

Iyengar – hatha yoga practice that emphasizes structure and alignment using props

Jnana – yogic system of knowledge or wisdom; “path of knowledge”

Kapalabhati – cleansing breathing exercise that literally means “skull shining”

Karma – yogic system believing that everything you do, say or think has an immediate effect on the universe and in you

Kundalini – hatha yoga practice that emphasizes breath work (specifically moving the breath along the spine to stimulate different energy centers)

Mantra – meditative sound or prayer consisting of a repetitive Sanskrit word/words. Mantra literally translates as “mind liberation”. For a selection of mantras to encourage your path to empowerment please see here

Meditation – a mindful experience with best results when practiced at regular times each day, 5 to 30 minutes, 1 to 2 times daily

Namaste – traditional greeting of reverence (prayer like gesture) still in everyday use in India; in Western civilization it is traditionally used at the end of a yoga practice meaning “I salute the divine light within you”. This gesture acknowledges seeing the eternal spirit in another

Niyama – one of the eight limbs of yoga that refers to self observation

Om (aum) – a sacred symbol and sound vibration used as a mantra to feel connection with everything; refers to universal oneness

Pranayama – one of the eight limbs of yoga that refers to deep breathing exercises or breath control

Pratyahara – one of the eight limbs of yoga that refers to a withdrawing of the senses

Samadhi – one of the eight limbs of yoga that means “a state of complete absorption in the object of one’s meditation, especially on the transcendental reality”

Sanskrit – ancient language of perfection in which the Hindu scriptures and classical Indian epic poems are written; older than Latin or Greek and is considered to be the “Language of the Gods”

Satya – reality or “truth”

Shakti – divine energy and power that is thought to move through the entire universe

Sukhasana – easy sitting posture; position for meditation and communing with the divine source

Surya Namaskara – translates to mean “sun salutation” or “in reverence with the light” which is a series of flowing postures done as gratitude towards the light

Tantra – non-dualistic yogic system that promotes the exploration of subtle energies within the body and their connection to the universe to understand the purpose of life and the principles of union in new dimensions

Ujjayi – deep and audible “drawing breath” exercise

Yama – one of the eight limbs of yoga that refers to ethical disciplines

Yogi – a gender neutral term used to describe a person who practices yoga. ‘Yogin’ specifically refers to a male student and ‘yogini’ is used for a female practitioner.

Yoga – means “union” or “to yoke”

For further insight into these and other Sanskrit words, please refer to the philosophical teachings of Jeffrey Armstrong/Kavindra Rishi