Yoga Vocab – Ten Sanskrit words to learn

Starting Yoga can seem intimidating, and there are many classes and studios that teach using Sanskrit (the ancient sacred Hindu language, not spoken today) which adds a layer of difficulty to something already new.  While I teach in English, I sometimes use Sanskrit pose names or phrases.  Here are a few to get to know:

Asana refers to yoga poses or postures. It is the physical aspect of a yoga practice, and pose names tend to end in asana. For example, Childs pose, is balasana, while mountain pose is tadasana. When learning Sanskrit pose names, you a replace the word pose, with asana.  You’ll also hear people refer to their ‘asana practice’, which simple means the yoga postures part of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga.

Pranayama is the practice of breath control. It involves various techniques to regulate and control the breath (Also 1 of the 8 Limbs of Yoga)

Namaste is a greeting commonly used in yoga, and throughout Northern India –  meaning “I bow to you” or “The divine light in me sees to the divine light in you.”

Om (ॐ) is a sacred sound and a spiritual symbol in Indian religions. It is often chanted at the beginning or end of yoga classes.

Chakra literally means wheel, and  refers to energy centers in the body. There are seven main chakras along the spine, each associated with different qualities and aspects of life.

Mantra is a sacred word or phrase repeated during meditation to aid concentration and focus.

Drishti  means “gaze” or “view.” In yoga, it refers to a specific focal point that helps maintain concentration and balance during asana practice.

Mudra refers to hand gestures used during meditation or asana practice to channel energy flow and enhance spiritual awareness.

Savasana, also known as Corpse Pose, is a relaxation posture commonly practiced at the end of a yoga session. It involves lying flat on the back with arms and legs spread comfortably. It is pronounced with an Sh sound and I often start & finish class in this pose, as people love it!

Sutra means “thread” or “aphorism.” In yoga, it refers to concise and profound teachings, often attributed to ancient yogic texts like the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.



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