Welcome to our Glossary of all things Yoga and Yogic. If you have any questions you'd like included here about Yoga topics please send them into Cath – her email's on the Contacts page (in the ABOUT section). Enjoy – namaste, Susan
ASHRAM - The Ashram is the center and it's the workspace for the courses, classes, and workshops . Traditionally it would not only be where we go for our Practice, but also the living and social needs of the group are centered and function around the Ashram. The Guru would be the leader and teacher, guiding and feeding the energy of the center and the group.
AYURVEDA - Ayurveda – derived from ‘ayus’ (life) and ‘veda’ (knowledge) – is the ancient healing tradition of India, often called the science of life. I was taught that Ayurveda, practically, integrates Yoga, Astrology and Nutrition. It aims to bring about a union of physical, emotional and spiritual health. Ayurveda has taught us for centuries that health is a state of balance between the body, mind and consciousness. A state of harmony with the Universe.
GURU – the Guru is the teacher and is usually a master, the head and central figure of the Ashram or School. Guru in Sanskrit mean “Dark” and “Light” or: one who brings light out of darkness.
HATHA YOGA – Hatha Yoga is a systematic practice to balance our energy. “Ha” means Sun and “Tha” means Moon. It's a way of balancing the dynamic outer energy with the softer, more receptive inner energy, adding some Moon to your Sun, or balancing your male and female energies. A typical Hatha Yoga class would include a mix of relaxation and dedication to bring joy and centering, limbering and warming the body up, physical postures, breathing and meditation practices, stretches and cool downs and final deep relaxation, usually with inspirational thoughts and readings, to rest deeply and sweetly within the self as the mind, body and yoga all come together.
NAMASTE – Namaste means “Welcome” and it also means “respecting the spirit that dwells within”. We use it at the beginning and end of our yoga classes with the praying hands mudra at the heart as a sign of respect.
PRANAYAMA – Pranayama is the art and the science of breath control in Yoga which brings the profound benefits of controlling the emotions. Pranayama is recommended only to be practiced in the presence of the Guru – in our culture and society I take this to mean that you don't just open a book and start to practice on your own in isolation but that learning and practising by CD or DVD with your master is acceptable. “Prana” is the life force, or vital, energy that comes in with the breath and “Yama” means control but in “ayama” it means to give expansion. These are not simply just breathing exercises but profound practices to expand and amplify the life force energy to attain a higher state of vital vibratory energy.
UPANISHADS – the Upanishads are the sacred texts of Yoga which have codified the principles and teachings over centuries and they were written in “aphorisms” which are “sayings”. The Upanishads begin with the aphorism: “And now Yoga begins . . .” The word “now” in Sanskrit is a transitional term which doesn't translate into English and which actually means “after all that has been learned and gone before, and now that you are ready, now . . “. We take this to mean that when you've learned your postures, and your breathing and your meditation, when you've followed the path with the right diet and the right actions, THEN you can begin truly living with Yoga.
VEGETARIAN – A vegetarian is someone who doesn't eat animal flesh so their diet would not include meat or fish. As Linda McCartney said: “I don't eat anything that once had a face.” Vegetarians usually do eat dairy products including eggs, but VEGANS don't. Some people (especially in Ireland) consider themselves Vegetarian if they eat fish, but they are in fact Omnivores which means they eat one kind of flesh. Not everyone suits a vegetarian diet. Yoga teachers would normally be Vegetarian so that they can keep their energy and vibrations high.
YAMAS AND NIYAMAS – the Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga are the codes for self-control and mastery, and they teach us how to use our energy beneficially. The Yamas are the living principles of Yoga, for example: Ahimsa which teaches non-violence but which also teaches us to use our energy wisely in Compassion and Self-Acceptance. The Niyamas are the codes for taming our minds, bodies and especially our egos to train our souls: for example surrender and merging with the one-ness.
YOGA – Yoga is an ancient system, one of the most complete systems we have in our world at this time, and it teaches and trains us to be in union with our one-ness, our source, with the unified state of consciousness. It's uniqueness in part comes from the fact that it has been systematically documented for centuries and also because of the tradition of the teachers adding and contributing continually which has kept it vibrant, relevant and alive. As a total system for a human being it offers not only philosophy and devotion (if that is what you want) together with ways of balancing our energy and nutrition, but also bodywork and Meditation practices which give us the experience of being able to embody our Spirituality. The Yogis believed that this life is difficult and it can be painful being a human being and so they spent thousands of years in experimenting and amassing knowledge to be passed down to us – the miracle to me is that they cared so much and that it was important for them to devote their lives so passionately to benefitting the future of mankind (us).
ZEN – Zen means Meditation. Zen also means “solitary person opens heart and mind to signs from heaven” so it's the practice of being in awareness of your One-ness.
ZAZEN – Zazen is the sitting Meditation practice which is the Essence of Zen, sitting in stillness and silence with awareness on the breath and the posture.