Yoga physiology are the descriptions of the human body, its layers, and the energy channels running through it used in various yoga systems.
Yoga (Sanskrit: योग pronunciation (help·info)) 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 in Hinduism, Buddhism (including Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism) and Jainism, the best-known being Hatha yoga and Raja yoga. The term yoga is derived from the literal meaning of "yoking together" a span of horses or oxes, but came to be applied to the "yoking" of mind and body.
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, 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.
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 describes five koshas or sheets which cover the Atman or "Self". They are:
- Sthula sarira, the Gross body, composed of the Annamaya Kosha
- Suksma sarira, the Subtle body, composed of:
- Karana sarira, the Causal body, composed of the Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss)
Karana sarira is the cause of Sthula sarira and Suksma sarira.
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.
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.
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