Yoga Physiology

Definition - What does Yoga Physiology mean?

Yoga physiology refers to the way in which the body is described and understood in yogic philosophy and teachings. It may also be used to describe the application of modern science and anatomy to the understanding of the effects on the body of yoga practice. Modern yoga teacher training will often integrate both of these approaches.

Yoga physiology traditionally considers the human body as being composed of five sheaths, or koshas. It is also thought to contain energy channels which can be activated, stimulated and influenced by yoga practice. The energy map of the human body also includes the chakras, which are energy vortexes, or centers, located in the subtle body rather than the physical body.

Yogapedia explains Yoga Physiology

In the Vedic texts, the human body is said to be made of three sariras, or “bodies,” which are related to the five koshas. The sariras are as follows:

  1. Sthula sarira - The gross body, which is also the annamaya kosha.
  2. Suksma sarira - The subtle body, which includes the pranamaya, manomaya and vijnanamaya koshas.
  3. Karana sarira - The causal body, which is the ananda kosha.

It is desirable to be in this third body, which causes the gross and subtle bodies to be manifested. Within the subtle body, according to traditional yoga physiology, the nadis (energy channels) are said to intersect with and through the seven primary chakras.

Also in yoga physiology, it is the nadis which carry the prana. Although nadi translates as “nerve” in English, the nadis of yoga physiology are considered distinct from the anatomical structures. Kundalini yoga describes three main nadis: ida, pingala and sushumna which run along and to the sides of the spine.

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