Man. The word is derived from the same root as Sanskrit manas, mind — the uniquely human capacity for rational thought. The science of yoga deals with human consciousness from the point of view of the essentially androgynous Self (atman). As there is no other terminology in English that would convey these psychological and spiritual truths without excessive literary awkwardness, the use of man and related terms has been retained in this publication — not in the narrowly exclusive sense of the word man, denoting only half of the human race, but in its broader original meaning.
Maya. The delusory power inherent in the structure of creation, by which the One appears as many. Maya is the principle of relativity, inversion, contrast, duality, oppositional states; the “Satan” (lit., in Hebrew, “the adversary”) of the Old Testament prophets; and the “devil” whom Christ described picturesquely as a “murderer” and a “liar,” because “there is no truth in him” (John 8:44).
Paramahansa Yogananda wrote: “The Sanskrit word maya means ‘the measurer’; it is the magical power in creation by which limitations and divisions are apparently present in the Immeasurable and Inseparable. Maya is Nature herself — the phenomenal worlds, ever in transitional flux as antithesis to Divine Immutability. In God’s plan and play (lila), the sole function of Satan or maya is to attempt to divert man from Spirit to matter, from Reality to unreality.”
Medulla oblongata. This structure at the base of the brain (top of the spinal cord) is the principal point of entry of life force (prana) into the body. It is the seat of the sixth cerebrospinal centre, whose function is to receive and direct the incoming flow of cosmic energy. The life force is stored in the seventh centre (sahasrara) in the topmost part of the brain. From that reservoir it is distributed throughout the body. The subtle centre at the medulla is the main switch that controls the entrance, storage, and distribution of the life force.
Patanjali. Renowned exponent of yoga, a sage of ancient times, whose Yoga Sutras outline the principles of the yogic path, dividing it into eight steps: (1) moral proscriptions (yama), (2) right observances (niyama), (3) meditation posture (asana), (4) life-force control (pranayama), (5) interiorization of the mind (pratyahara), (6) concentration (dharana), (7) meditation (dhyana), (8) union with God (samadhi).
Prakriti. Cosmic Nature; in general, the intelligent, creative vibratory power projected out of Spirit that both objectifies and becomes the triune manifestation (causal, astral, and physical) of the universe and the microcosm of man.
Specifically designated: Maha-Prakriti is the primal Undifferentiated Creative Intelligence of God, Creative Mother Nature or Holy Ghost, that through Cosmic Vibration of Its own Self brings into manifestation all creation. Para-Prakriti (Pure Nature) and Apara-Prakriti (Impure Nature) correlate with the Christian terminologies of Holy Ghost and Satan — respectively, the creative power that expresses the immanence of God’s vibratory Presence in creation, and the dark power of cosmic delusion that obscures the Divine Omnipresence.
Prana. Sparks of intelligent finer-than-atomic energy that constitute life, collectively referred to in Hindu scriptural treatises as prana, which Paramahansa Yogananda has translated as “lifetrons.” In essence, condensed thoughts of God; substance of the astral world (q.v.) and life principle of the physical cosmos. In the physical world, there are two kinds of prana: (1) the cosmic vibratory energy that is omnipresent in the universe, structuring and sustaining all things; (2) the specific prana or energy that pervades and sustains each human body through five currents or functions. Prana current performs the function of crystallization; vyana current, circulation; samana current, assimilation; udana current, metabolism; and apana current, elimination.
Pranayama. Conscious control of prana (the creative vibration or energy that activates and sustains life in the body). The yoga science of pranayama is the direct way to consciously disconnect the mind from the life functions and sensory perceptions that tie man to body consciousness. Pranayama thus frees man’s consciousness to commune with God. All scientific techniques that bring about union of soul and Spirit may be classified as yoga, and pranayama is the greatest yogic method for attaining this divine union.