I realise that some of the words used when talking about yoga may be confusing, so I want to shed some light on the basic Sanskrit terms referred to in the yoga world. I have only outlined the meanings here and shall delve into the topics in more depth in future articles. For now, I hope these help.
Asana is the name used for yoga postures. Most postures have the word asana at the end of it for example: Shavasana, Tadasana…
The chakras are energy centres located through the middle of the body. Each chakra relates to a part of the body, an emotion, a colour and the health of the area it governs. There are seven main chakras, which consist of the Root Chakra, Sacral Chakra, Solar Plexus Chakra, Heart Chakra, Throat Chakra, Third Eye Chakra and the Crown Chakra. Some asana are used specifically to awaken particular chakras.
Dhyana is the Sanskrit name for meditation.
Kriya’s are sequences of movement used to purify the body and awaken the Kundalini energy.
The Kundalini is mostly a dormant energy that is located at the base of the spine. When activated, it is symbolised as a serpent rising through the energy centres of the body bringing about an awakening. Kundalini Yoga uses techniques and asana to awaken the Kundalini energy to assist with psychic abilities and to release untapped energy within the body. Awakening the Kundalini is said to assist with spiritual practices and aid progress on your chosen path.
A mantra can be used to help change our consciousness. The chanting of a sound or specific words assists in bringing peace and harmony to the mind, body and spirit. Broken down, ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means tuning the vibration/frequency. Mantras chanted over long periods can put you into a trance state. Several meditations use mantras for this reason and for their many benefits.
A Mudra is a specific hand position held during meditation and breathing exercises. There are several Mudras used and they all have different affects in directing energy through the body.
Namaste is a greeting used within the yoga traditions, which means, ‘The spirit in me honours the spirit in you’. Alternatively, ‘I bow to the Divine in you’. Namaste always consists of the hands being together in prayer position and as you address the person, you bow as you say Namaste to them.
Pranayama is one of the most important aspects of yoga. Prana being the life force that permeates the Universe, the breath that keeps us alive. All yoga practices are greatly enhanced when pranayama is included. There are several breathing exercises used in yoga and they all have very different and profound benefits to the mind, body and spirit.
A Yogi is the general term for someone who follows the yoga way of life. Yogini is specifically the name given to female yoga followers.
Hope these help to bring clarity and assist with deepening your knowledge of yoga.