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Glossary

Acharaya - teacher; spiritual preceptor.

Adi - original, primordial.

Advaita - an aspect of yogic philosophy which aims at the goal of experiencing a state beyond duality, beyond opposites such as like and dislike, good and bad, etc.

Agni - fire; fire element, see Tattwas.

Ahimsa - absence of negativity from within; non-violence.

Ajna Chakra - situated in the mid brain, behind the eyebrow centre; associated with deeper knowledge, ability to visualise, memory and intuition. It is considered to be responsible for monitoring the other chakras.

Akasha - space; Brahman. Akasha tattwa is the ether element, see Tattwas.

Anahata Chakra - concentration point in the spine behind the heart; centre of emotion and the experience of unconditional love.

Antar Mouna - thought observation; inner silence.

Aparigraha - happiness with whatever is there without any desire for more; non-accumulation
Arjuna in the Bhagavad gita he is the warrior who questions Krishna about his purpose in life.

Asana - physical posture in which one is at ease and in harmony with one's self.

Ashram - traditional name referring to places where yoga is lived and taught.

Ashuddha - impure

Asteya - an inner state in which one is true to oneself non-stealing; honesty

Atma - individual soul; spirit

Aum - a mantra which is described as the primordial sound; the sound through which the manifest world comes into being.

Avidya - ignorance of reality

Ayurveda - a traditional Indian system of medicine

Bandhas - A series of powerful locks used to unlock blockages of energy in the body. Moolbandha contracts an area around mooladhara chakra in the perineal area. Uddiyana bandha involves a contraction of the abdominal area. Jalandhara bandha involves a contraction of the throat. Mahabandha is a combination of all three locks.

Beeja - Seed

Bhagavad Gita - A section from the great Indian epic the Mahabharat. It is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, guru and disciple, on the battlefield between two sides preparing for civil war. Arjuna is filled with doubt and questions his purpose in life; Krishna, in turn, shows him the secrets of yoga.

Bhajans - A form of chanting. Usually, bhajans are sanskrit passages sung to melodies. It is a traditional way that important spiritual texts were passed on. In contrast kirtans are generally shorter and repeated many times.

Bhakti - Devotion; the yoga of devotion, one of the main branches of yoga.

Bhava - Attitude, state of being according to Tantra

Bhaya - Fear, especially fear of the unknown

Bhramari - Tranquillising pranayama; humming breath

Bija - Seed

Bindu - The source; a drop; psychic centre, concentration point at the top back of the head where the hair whorls

Brahman - The consciousness which allows growth to take place; the one unchanging reality

Buddhi - Discerning discriminating aspect of mind; from the route "bodh" meaning to be aware of, to know; intellect.

Chakra - wheel; vortex of prana; psychic centre; chakras are subtle energy centres in the body. The main chakras in the body are situated along the spinal column.

Chidakasha - the mental screen; the space of chitta. Subtle space inside the head often used as a place of awareness in meditation practices.

Chitta - individual consciousness including the subconscious and unconscious layers of the mind (memory, thinking, concentration, attention, enquiry).

Darshan - vison actual manifestation of the image

Deva - the luminous nature of the spirit

Dharana - concentration; the focusing of mental energies; holding the state of creativity of the senses and the mind

Dharma - inner knowledge of one's correct duty or obligation; expression of natural sattwic qualities

Dhoti - unstitched cloth used as lower garment

Dhyana - fusion of the mind with the object of contemplation, inner awakening; natural expression of sattwic state

Diksha - initiation; from the verb to see or to concentrate

Divali - Festival of Light, traditional celebration in India when the goddess Lakshmi gives blessings

Drasta - the observer, the witness, the seer

Dukha - pain, suffering

Geru - orange dye used on the dhotis of sannyasins

Gunas - attributes; sattwa, rajas and tamas; natural qualities governing life; genetic qualities of the universe

Guru - The word guru means 'dispeller of darkness'. It is used in India to refer to esteemed spiritual masters and teachers that are able to help others to expand their consciousness and develop spiritually.

Gurukul - A residential living and learning environment directed by a Guru. A tradition from ancient India.

Guru Poornima - celebration of guru's grace in July

Gyana - wisdom; path of understanding and knowledge

Havan - A fire ceremony that has purifying effects on the body, mind and environment.

Kirtan - Mantras chanted in a call-and-response fashion with musical accompaniment.

Kosha - Literally, 'sheath'; refers to the five different aspects or 'bodies' of the human being in yogic physiology: annamaya kosha (physical); pranamaya kosha (energy); manomaya kosha (mental); vijnamaya kosha (intuitive); anandamaya kosha (bliss).

Mantra - Combinations of syllables or words that are chanted to stimulate and awaken the faculties of different chakras.

Prana - Life force or bio-energy.

Prasad - Offering; often refers to food that has been prepared with awareness and the intention of self-less giving.

Sadhaka - Spiritual aspirant; one who is following a spiritual path for self-realisation by practicing sadhana.

Samadhi - Merging with universal consciousness.

Sankalpa - Sankalpa is derived from two Sanskrit root words: sam, 'union' or 'together', and kalpa, 'possibility', or every possibility in existence. In practice it is a resolution or intention for spiritual development. Used during Yoga Nidra

Sannyasa - A level of initiation in yogic traditions that denotes a strong, lifelong commitment to spiritual development and service.

Satsang - Often translated as 'association with truth'. A talk or question and answer session led by a wise and experienced person.

Sattwa - Quality of nature and mind that is illumined, steady, pure & unwavering.

Sattwic - Adjective form of Sattwa

Tantra - The process of expanding awareness and liberating prana and consciousness from indentification with the physical.

Tattwa - Essential element or principle. The tattwas in yogic philosophy are earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

Yajna - A very ancient fire ritual. Yajnas help us to connect with nature, ourselves and great cosmic energies.