Acute When symptoms come on rapidly;
acute pain generally lasts for less than
3–6 months.
Alignment In yoga, the way a pose is
instructed with the intention of encouraging
optimal function and preventing injury;
although there are general principles,
proper alignment may vary from person to
person and day to day, and based on the
intention behind the pose.
Anatomy Study of the structure of the
body, including the naming of parts.
Antigen Invader that the body’s immune
system ghts with antibodies and white
blood cells.
Arthritis Group of joint conditions that
involves joint inammation and/or damage;
osteoarthritis is the most common type
and involves damage to the cartilage of
the joint due to wear and tear.
Asana Yoga pose or posture.
Bile Substance that helps break down fats
in digestion.
Cartilage Firm but exible connective tissue;
includes hyaline (glasslike, in synovial joints
to reduce friction), brocartilage (rm
cushioning, in intervertebral disks for
cushioning), and elastic (stretchy, in nose
and ears for elasticity).
Central nervous system (CNS) The brain
and spinal cord; controls the body and
perceives the world.
Cerebral cortex Outer shell of the cerebrum.
Cerebrum Largest part of the brain;
contains the cerebral cortex and some
internal structures such as the hippocampus.
Cervical spine Seven vertebrae of the neck.
Chromosomes Threadlike molecules
made of DNA and proteins; humans
generally have 23 pairs.
Chronic Long-lasting symptoms, disease,
and/or pain; chronic pain generally
persists for longer than 3–6 months.
Collagen Key component in many
connective tissues; has good tensile
strength, allowing it to resist tension or pull.
Concentric contraction Muscle
shortening in response to a load, as in
lifting a weight in a biceps curl.
Connective tissue Forms connections
in your body; subtypes include cartilage,
bone, blood, lymph, adipose (fat), and
elastic tissue (such as in the ears and
nose), along with brous connective tissue.
Control group The research group that
doesn’t receive the intervention being
studied; may recieve nothing, or an active
control, to act as a comparison.
Deep Further inward from the surface; for
instance, your muscles are deep to your skin.
Diaphragm Usually refers to the respiratory
diaphragm, which is the primary muscle
used in a relaxed breath; there are also the
vocal/thoracic outlet diaphragm and
urogenital/pelvic oor diaphragm.
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid; carries
hereditary information in genes;
within chromosomes.
Eccentric contraction Muscle
lengthening in response to a load, as in
lowering a weight in a biceps curl.
Engaging When a muscle is contracting;
“Engaging while stretching” is used in this
book to describe contraction while a muscle
is in a neutral or lengthening position, as in
an eccentric contraction, but held steady.
Epithelial tissue Forms coverings in your
body, such as the supercial layer of skin.
Fascia Fibrous connective tissue that
surrounds muscles and other organs.
Fibrous connective tissue Contains either
a parallel or irregular pattern of collagen
bers; includes dense regular connective
tissue, of tendons and ligaments, and dense
irregular connective tissue, of fascia and
synovial joint capsules.
fMRI Functional magnetic resonance
imaging; machine that measures blood
ow in the brain to reect neural activity.
Gray matter Tissue in the central nervous
system that contains mostly cell bodies,
dendrites, and synapses (as compared to
white matter which contains mostly axons
and is white due to myelin).
Heart rate variability (HRV) Measure of
the variation between heart beats within a
specic increment of time; may be an indicator
of cardiorespiratory and stress resilience.
Hip points Colloquial name for the two
bony protrusions on the front of the pelvis,
called the anterior superior iliac spines.
Homeostasis State of dynamic
equilibrium maintained in the human
body to support life.
Hot yoga Yoga classes in rooms heated to
92–105°F (33–40.5°C).
Hyperextension Extreme extension of
a joint, often past normal range.
Hypermobile Extremely exible beyond
normal limits.
Hypertension High blood pressure.
Inammation Indication that the body is
ghting something locally or systemically;
symptoms can include redness, swelling,
heat, and pain.
Interoception Sensory body awareness
of your internal environment, including of
the digestive organs, heart, and muscles.
Intervertebral disk Disks, made mostly
of brocartilage, which absorb shock
between vertebrae and allow movement.
Inversion Poses, like Headstand, where
the body is “upside down;” partial
inversions include any pose where the
head is below the heart.
Isometric contraction Muscle
engagement where the muscle stays
the same length, such as pushing into
a wall or the oor.
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Isotonic contraction Muscle engagement
where the muscle changes length; can
either be eccentric or concentric.
Kinesiology Study of body movement.
Kumbhaka Pranayama practice of
breath retention.
Kyphosis Convex curves of the spine,
found naturally in the thoracic spine and
sacrum; the term can also describe an
excessive amount of this convex curve,
as in a dowagers hump.
Ligament Connects bone to bone; made
of dense regular connective tissue proper,
which has parallel collagen bers.
Lordosis Concave curves of the spine,
found naturally in the lumbar and cervical
spine; the term can also describe an
excessive amount of this concave curve.
Lumbar spine Five vertebrae of the low back.
Lymph Fluid lled with white blood cells
to ght invaders; collected from interstitial
uid, it drains back into the heart after
being ltered in lymph nodes.
Meditation Concentration or mental focus
exercise; includes mindfulness, mantra,
loving-kindness, transcendental meditation
(TM), and others; Dhyana, in Sanskrit.
Meta-analysis Systematic assessment
of previous research in a specic area to
derive broad conclusions; the gold
standard of review articles.
Mindfulness Paying attention on purpose to
the present moment, without judgment (as
dened by researcher Jon Kabat Zinn, PhD).
Muscle tissue Contractile tissue; the
three types are skeletal, smooth, and
cardiac muscle.
Nadis According to Indian medicine and
Hindu philosophy, these are channels for
prana to ow.
Nerve Bundle of axons of neurons in the
peripheral nervous system; conductive
tissue that acts like wires through the body,
carrying signals to and from the central
nervous system. Includes cranial nerves
and spinal nerves; a bundle of axons in the
central nervous system is called a tract.
Nervous tissue Conductive tissue made
of neurons and helper cells.
Neuron Nerve cell; carries electrical signals.
Neuroplasticity Ability of the brain to
create neural connections.
Neutral spine Position of optimal load
distribution for the spine; maintains the
natural curves of the cervical (lordosis),
thoracic (kyphosis), and lumbar (lordosis)
segments of the spine.
Neutral pelvis Position of the pelvis that
best supports the inward curve of the
lumbar spine. No excessive anterior or
posterior pelvic tilt; hip points are in line
with each other; minimized stress on
ligaments, muscles, and other tissues.
Osteoporosis Condition where bones
become weak and brittle, leaving them at
higher risk for fractures.
Parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS)
“Rest and digest” branch of the autonomic
nervous system; the relaxation response.
Peripheral nervous system (PNS)
Includes the cranial and spinal nerves.
Physiology The study of the function of
parts and systems in the body; the study
of how the body works.
Postural hypotension Also called
orthostatic hypotension; a sudden onset of
low blood pressure caused by standing up
too quickly from the oor or an inversion.
Prana Sanskrit word meaning life-force
energy, vital energy, or breath, similar to the
Chinese concept of qi; yogis believe you can
consciously transform and move your prana.
Pranayama Sanskrit word meaning breath
extension or control; breathwork.
Proprioception Type of interoception that
focuses on spatial body awareness,
particularly while in motion.
Randomized controlled trial (RCT)
Randomization of the experimental group
and control(s), which can lead to less bias;
gold standard of research trials.
Sacroiliac joint Joint between the sacrum
and ilium of the pelvis; allows a small
amount of movement.
Samskaras According to Indian philosophy,
these are imprints or impressions of our
past actions.
Sanskrit The ancient Indian language in
which many yoga texts were written.
Stretching When muscle bers lengthen,
often beyond resting length.
Sun salutation Series of asanas done in
owing sequence to warm up the body
and focus the mind.
Supercial Closer to the surface; for
instance, your skin is supercial to
your muscles.
Supine Lying on your back, face up.
Sympathetic nervous system (SNS)
“Fight or ight” branch of the autonomic
nervous system; the stress response.
Synovial joint Most common and most
mobile type of joint in the body, such as
the shoulders, hips, and knees.
Tendon Connects muscle to bone; made
of dense regular connective tissue proper,
which has parallel collagen bers.
Thoracic spine The 12 vertebrae of the
mid-back region.
Tissues Collection of cells that come
together for a similar function; the four
primary tissue types are epithelial,
connective, muscle, and nervous.
Vagus nerve Tenth cranial nerve (CN X),
important in parasympathetic control of
the heart, lungs, and digestive organs.
Vayus According to yoga philosophy, your
prana ows in specic patterns called the
vayus: Prana (in), Udana (into head), Vyana
(into limbs), Samana (around), and Apana
vayu (down and out).
Yoga therapy According to the International
Association of Yoga Therapists, “Yoga therapy
is the process of empowering individuals
to progress toward improved health and
well-being through the application of the
teachings and practices of Yoga;” this
developing eld has educational standards
that exceed those for general yoga
instruction, and prepares practitioners to
work safely with health conditions.
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