Asana:: Generally known as a Yoga posture or position. From the Yoga Sutras, asana literally means: a steady comfortable pose. Asana is one of the eight limbs of “Yoga” (with a capital Y) and is practiced to make the body supple and strong enough to be able to sit in meditation for extended periods of time. Breathe this mantra with each asana in class next time: steady… comfortable… Otherwise, it’s just exercise.
Sutra:: A sutra (thread) is a literary exposition composed of concise, meaningful statements. The “Yoga Sutras” were compiled by Patanjali, an Indian scholar in the ~2nd century BCE. This text provides the practical foundation for the underlying philosophy of Yoga. There are many interpretations of the Sutras, my favorites being: “Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by BKS Iyengar (in-depth), and “Yoga Sutras of Patanjali” by Mukunda Stiles (more concise).
Mantra:: A chanted sound, syllable, word, or prayer (Sanskrit: “man-“=mind, “-tra“=tool). Mantra is generally connected with the Sanskrit language, which is an energy-based language as well as a meaning-based language. Chanting words, especially with intent, create vibrations that have the power to transform. One of the most recognizable and simple mantras is the symbol “OM”.
Sattvic:: Sattva (n) refers to a quality of existence. Related to food, it means: pure, light, fresh, providing the highest vitality. A sattvic diet includes whole, organic plant foods and fresh, organic dairy products, and is a nutritional approach to achieving higher consciousness.
Veda: Knowledge, wisdom. The “Vedas” are the ancient texts of India containing the scriptures of Hinduism. They are the oldest extant text on the planet today (they came to us in written form 4000-6000 years ago).
Prana: Life-force, life-breath, vital energy. It is the kinetic force of the universe, similar to chi in Chinese Medicine.
Dharma:: Life-purpose, the mission of our spirit. According to Yogic philosophy, when a soul descends into a manifested body, it has a reason for doing so – to fulfill it’s dharma. We can uncover our personal dharma by asking the questions, “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is my life purpose?” Discovering our dharma might be clear, or illusive. But spending the time to ponder and discover is an amazing process.
Namaste’:: A traditional greeting in India and Nepal, it is similar to “aloha” in Hawaiian, as it symbolizes hello, good-bye, blessings, peace, a shared compassion. Typically, the hands are placed palms-together in front of the heart or forehead, eyes are closed briefly, a slight bow is made, and “Namaste'” is spoken. Namaste’ literally means “I bow to you” and it is an acknowledgment of the Divine in yourself and in the one you are greeting. (Sanskrit: “Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you).