Definition - What does Rasa mean?

Rasa is a Sanskrit term meaning "sap," "essence" or "fluid." In the spiritual tradition, this term refers to the essence of human experience; the emotions that govern human life. Tantric belief identifies nine basic human emotions. In the practice of yoga however, only three of these rasas are considered to be fundamental: the vira rasa (refers to the power of controlling the breath, mind and body), the shanti rasa (refers to the serenity of equilibrium) and the sringara rasa (refers to the spiritual and physical unity achieved through yoga).

Yogapedia explains Rasa

A rasa represents the energy of human emotion. This energy, whether negative or positive, directly affects one’s spiritual and physical health. Therefore, it is of great concern to yogis.

There are nine basic human emotions, all of which must be mastered or kept in balance for spiritual and corporeal health. The rasas are:

  • Sringara (love, unity, beauty)
  • Hasya (humor, joy)
  • Adbhuta (inquisitiveness, wonder)
  • Shanti (calmness, peace)
  • Raudra (stress, anger)
  • Vira (confidence, power)
  • Karuna (sorrow, empathy)
  • Bhayanaka (apprehension, anxiety)
  • Vibhatsa (self-pity, disgust)

Each of these rasas can be encountered during the practice of yoga. The sringara, shanti and vira rasas that routinely affect the practice. The vira rasa is awakened during poses that involve alignment, strength and flexibility; the shanti rasa is engaged in the meditative movement and steady breath of yoga; and the sringara rasa is profoundly experienced when unity between the individual and the Divine is realized.

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