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Words you Might Hear in a Yoga Class

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

A beginner's guide to words you might hear in a yoga class at Thrive Yoga in Texarkana.


If you’re new to yoga (or even if you’re not), you may have heard words in class that you don’t recognize. It might seem like your teacher is speaking in a language you’ve never heard – in fact, the language of yoga is Sanskrit, which is the root of many Indian languages. In most western studios, you’ll hear primarily English with the occasional use of Sanskrit.


Yoga teachers love talking about yoga :) If you're ever curious about a specific word you hear, ask and we would love to chat with you about it. What's helpful to know is much like you would call a tortilla filled with beans and rice a “burrito” (in Spanish), the same is happening when you call tricep pushups “chaturangas” (in Sanskrit). Since many yoga studios teach with both, it's good to learn and they're fun to say!


So, what common terms might you hear and what do they mean?

  • Yoga – to ‘yoke’ or ‘bind’ – often interpreted as ‘union’ (the union of breath, body and mind).

  • Asana – literally translates as ‘seat’ – but the more modern interpretation of the word denotes physical postures or poses.

  • Bandha – internal muscular ‘locks’ that, when engaged, support the toning and lifting of strategic areas of the body. The 3 major bandhas are: Mula Bandha – the pelvic floor muscles; Uddiyana Bandha – the abdominals up to the diaphragm; Jalandhara Bandha – the throat. Bandhas help prevent injuries.

  • Chaturanga – four limbed staff pose or low plank, requires arm, shoulder and core strength.

  • Core – often thought of as the abdominal muscles. However, it’s more accurate to think of it like an apple core, running from the top of your head to the inner arches of your feet.

  • Downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – one of the most common yoga poses, like an inverted ‘V’ shape.

  • Drishti – focal point of gazing during meditation or yoga practice (useful during balancing poses!)

  • Hatha – known as yoga for the physical body.

  • Mantra – a word, sound or phrase repeated either out loud (chanting) or in the mind – said to increase concentration while meditating.

  • Namaste – roughly meaning ‘the light within me honors the light within you’ and generally said at the end of a yoga class.

  • Prana – life energy; life force. Basically, it’s your breath.

  • Savasana – meaning Corpse pose – relaxation pose, typically at the end of a yoga class.

  • Surya Namaskar – Sun salutations – a sequence of poses. This dynamic sequence is a very popular sequence often used to warm up the body at the start of a yoga class.

  • Ujjayi – commonly translated as the ‘victorious breath’ or ocean breath because of the sound the breath makes at it enters and leaves a slightly constricted throat.

  • Vinyasa – movement linked with breath. Postures are strung together in a short or longer flow.

Credit to: https://www.ekhartyoga.com/articles/practice/yoga-lingo-for-beginners


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