Definition - What does Desa mean?

Desa is a Sanskrit word that means “place,” “space” or “country.” In traditional Indian culture, the desa was, in a cultural sense, the equivalent of “country”; in other words, a geo-cultural unit. In the context of yoga, desa refers to the location within the body, particularly as it relates to breathing exercises, or pranayama.

Desa is also a concept used in the treatment of disease or imbalances in the body in the traditional Indian medical practice called Ayurveda. Dietary considerations vary based on where the patient lives. For example, someone who lives in a cold climate would eat more animal protein, whereas someone in a warm climate should eat a more plant-based diet.

Yogapedia explains Desa

As Patanjali's Yoga Sutras explain, pranayama controls the breath according to desa, which controls the location to which the breath is directed. The breath is named based on the region in the yogi's body to which it is targeted: prana for the heart region, samana for the abdomen, apana for the pelvis and legs, udana for the head, and vyana for a breath directed throughout the body.

Other terms that involve desa include:

  • Desa-kala-patra – a Balinese life doctrine of where one lives, when one lives and the circumstances in which one lives.
  • Desa-kala-sambandha – space-time relationship.
  • Desatita – beyond space, or spaceless.
  • Desapabandha – limitation of space.
  • Desavadhi – a limited type of clairvoyance, or clairvoyance of space.
  • Desavakasika – a Jaina vow that limits where and when business or other activity is conducted.
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