Yoga physiology

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From an 1899 Yoga manuscript in the Braj Bhasa language.

Yoga physiology are the descriptions of the human body, its layers, and the energy channels running through it used in various yoga systems.


DIALOGUE BETWEEN SHIVA AND PARVATHI(OLD HISTORY) : According to a story in the puranas, Lord shiva was instructing parvati into the secret sadhanas of yoga while standing on the seashore. A large fish overheard all that said and from this fish, all knowing matsyendranath was born. Hence his name matsya - Indra or 'Lord of fish'. There are also many stories concerning the birth of Goraknath. It is said that when matsyendranath was begging for food as a parivrajaka, he met a women who lamented to him her woe of not having a son. Matsyendranath gave her some siddha vibhooti and told her that if she eats it, she would obtain a son. The woman did not eat that substance but cast it upon a pile of cowdung. Twelve years later, when matsyendranath was passing through the same village, he called her to see the child. The women told to the yogi what she had done and he asked to be taken to the spot where she had thrown the vibhooti. He called the name 'Gorkhnath' and immediately a radiant twelve-year-old lad emerged from the pile of cow dung. Gorkhnath became the dutiful disciple of matsyendranath and later became an expounder of hatha yoga and the founder of the Nath sect. He was an accomplished guru credited with the performance of many miracles. Gorkhantha, who was probably the guru of swatmarama, belonged to a very popular yoga sect called the Nath panth. Nath is a general term meaning 'master'. Members of these are kanphata yogis. Kanphata means 'split-eared' and refers to the yogis unique practice of having the cartilage of the ears pierced for the insertion of huge earings. Yoga (Sanskrit: योग About this sound pronunciation ) are the physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which aim at transforming body and mind. The term denotes a variety of schools, practices and goals[1] in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism[2][3][4]) and Jainism,[5][6][7][6] the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga. The term yoga is derived from the literal meaning of Sanskrit root "yuj" which means "to unite" ,Template:Monier Monier-Williams. A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: ...with Special Reference to Greek, Latin, Gothic, German, Anglo-saxon.. Clarendon. p. 804.

The origins of Yoga may date back to pre-vedic Indian traditions. The earliest accounts of yoga-practices are to be found in the Buddhist Nikayas. Parallel developments were recorded around 400 CE in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,[8] which combines pre–philosophical speculations and diverse ascetic practices of the first millennium BCE with Samkhya-philosophy. Hatha yoga emerged from tantra by the turn of the first millennium.[9][10]

Three bodies and five sheets

According to the Doctrine of the Three bodies in the Vedanta and Yoga, the human being is composed of three Sariras or "bodies". They are often equated with the five koshas (sheets), described in the Taittiriya Upanishad[11] which cover the Atman or "Self". They are:

  1. Sthula sarira, the Gross body, composed of the Annamaya Kosha[12]
  2. Suksma sarira, the Subtle body, composed of:
    1. Pranamaya Kosha (Vital breath or Energy),
    2. Manomaya Kosha (Mind),
    3. Vijnanamaya Kosha (Intellect)[12]
  3. Karana sarira, the Causal body, composed of the Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss)[12]

Karana sarira is the cause of Sthula sarira and Suksma sarira.[13]


Yogin with six chakras, India, Punjab Hills, Kangra, late 18th century

Chakras are energy centers or vortices in the subtle body. They are located at the physical counterparts of the major plexuses of arteries, veins and nerves. Chakras are part of the subtle body, not the physical body, and as such are the meeting points of the subtle (non-physical) energy channels, called nadiis. Nadiis are channels in the subtle body through which the life force (prana), or vital energy moves. Various scriptural texts and teachings present a different number of chakras. There are many chakras in the subtle human body according to the tantric texts, but there are 7 chakras that are considered to be the most important ones.

Their name derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning", but in the yogic context a better translation of the word is 'vortex or whirlpool'.[14][note 1]


Nāḍi (tube, pipe") are the channels through which, in traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the energies of the subtle body are said to flow. They connect at special points of intensity called chakras.

The word "nadi" is pronounced as "naRdi", with R+d loosely pronounced together (the effort is made by the tip of the tongue; it curls up, pointing backwards, then springs forward to lie flat). In normal biological reference, a nadi can be translated into "nerve" in English. However, in yogic, and specifically in Kundalini yoga reference, a nadi can be thought of as a channel (not an anatomical structure). In regard to Kundalini yoga, there are three of these nadis: Ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida (spoken "iRda") lies to the left of the spine, whereas pingala is to the right side of the spine, mirroring the ida. Sushumna runs along the spinal cord in the center, through the seven chakras – Mooladhaar at the base, and Sahasrar at the top (or crown) of the head. It is at the base of this sushumna where the Kundalini lies coiled in three and a half coils, in a dormant or sleeping state.

See also


  1. cakraṃ चक्रं [ˈtʃəkrə̃], pronounced [ˈtʃəkrə] in Hindi; Pali: cakka चक्क, Odia: ଚକ୍ର, Malayalam: ചക്രം, Thai: จักระ, Telugu: చక్రం, Tamil: சக்கரம், Kannada: ಚಕ್ರ, Chinese: 輪/轮, pinyin: lún, Standard Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ་, Wylie: 'khor lo


  1. White 2011.
  2. The Lion's Roar: An Introduction to Tantra by Chogyam Trungpa. Shambhala, 2001 ISBN 1-57062-895-5
  3. Edmonton Patric 2007,pali and its significance p. 332
  4. Lama Yeshe. The Bliss of Inner Fire. Wisdom Publications. 1998, pg.135-141.
  5. Denise Lardner Carmody, John Carmody, Serene Compassion. Oxford University Press US, 1996, page 68.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Stuart Ray Sarbacker, Samādhi: The Numinous and Cessative in Indo-Tibetan Yoga. SUNY Press, 2005, pp. 1–2.
  7. Tattvarthasutra [6.1], see Manu Doshi (2007) Translation of Tattvarthasutra, Ahmedabad: Shrut Ratnakar p. 102
  8. Whicher, pp. 38–39.
  9. James Mallinson, "Sāktism and Hathayoga," 28 June 2012. <URL> [accessed 19 September 2013] pg.1 "Scholarship on hathayoga, my own included, unanimously declares it to be a reformation of tantric yoga introduced by the gurus of the Nath sampradaya, in particular their supposed founder, Goraksa."
  10. Burley, Mikel (2000). Hatha Yoga: Its Context, Theory and Practice. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. p. 16. "It is for this reason that hatha-yoga is sometimes referred to as a variety of 'Tantrism'."
  11. David Frawley, Yoga and the Sacred Fire: Self-Realization and Planetary Transformation, p.288
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 J.Jagadeesan. The Fourth Dimension. Sai Towers Publishing. p. 13. ISBN 9788178990927.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Arvind Sharma (2006-09-09). A Primal Perspective on the philosophy of Religion. Springer. p. 193. ISBN 9781402050145.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. ..(page 16)


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