Last Updated: February 1, 2016

Definition - What does Nyasa mean?

In Hinduism, nyasa is a Tantric ritual that involves a series of touches in specific locations on the body. This is done by a "seer," or rishi, who chants a specific mantra to “place” it on a body part. It is thought that this ritual imparts the presence of a deity in the body, or makes the body of the individual more divine. In Sanksrit, nyasa means “placing” or “touching.”

In Tantric yoga or meditation, practitioners may lay hands on themselves or mentally “place” a mantra in specific locations on the body.

Yogapedia explains Nyasa

Nyasa is often performed before or during pujas (acts of reverence), at the hands of a seer or by the individual who is chanting or meditating. There are different types of nyasa practice. Some of the most common are:

  • Rishi nyasa
  • Kara nyasa
  • Matrika nyasa
  • Sadanga nyasa

In some nyasa practices, a mantra from a book is considered ineffective. Instead, it is believed that the mantras should be produced by a rishi.

The relaxation, meditation and visualization exercises (also called yoga nidra) that are used at the end of a yoga practice -- and, during which, practitioners "place" efforts of relaxation on specific body parts -- originally stem from mental nyasa rituals.

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