Yoga Physiology

Yoga physiology are the descriptions of the human body, its layers, and the energy channels running through it.


Chakras

Chakras are energy points or knots 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.

The name Chakra derives from the Sanskrit word for "wheel" or "turning", but in the yogic context a better translation of the word is 'vortex or whirlpool'


Nadi

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, whereaspingala 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


The Eight Limbs of Yoga

Patanjali defines yoga as" Yoga ChittaVrittiNirodha - Yoga is the cessation of mental fluctuations."Hence, yoga can be defined as a state of complete stillness of the mind. To achieve this goal, Patanjali prescribes the eight limbs or stages that every practitioner must master. Today, Ashtanga yoga (which means 'eight-limbedyoga') is sometimes thought to be a particular style or series of postures. Patanjali describes these eight stages as:

  • Yama (moral restraints)
  • Niyama (spiritual practices)
  • Asana (seat posture with spine erect)
  • Pranayama (breath control)
  • Pratyahara (withdrawal of from the organs of sense and the organs of action)
  • Dharana (deep state of concentration)
  • Dhyana (directing attention to the subject of meditation)
  • Samadhi (complete absorption in super consciousness or divine mind)


Four Classifications of Yoga

Yoga works on the level of one’s body, mind, emotion and energy. This has given rise to four broad classifications of Yoga:

Karma Yoga, where we utilize the body

Jnana Yoga, where we utilize the mind

Bhakti Yoga, where we utilize the emotion

Kriya Yoga, where we utilize the energy

Each system of Yoga we practice would fall within the gamut of one or more of these categories. Every individual is a unique combination of these four factors. Only a Guru(a teacher) can advocate the appropriate combination of the four fundamental paths, as is necessary for each seeker