Many first-timers in a yoga class may be wondering why their instructor seems to be spouting off gibberish, and what it all really means. The language of yoga is actually Sanskrit, a historical Indo-Aryan language used as a literary and scholarly language in Buddhism and Jainism. Most yoga positions have both a Sanskrit name and an English name. Instructors will often use both names together, for instance, “Please rise to Tadasana (Sanskrit), Mountain Pose (English)”. While it’s not necessary to memorize the Sanskrit name of every single pose, the list below will definitely help you follow and understand the class on a deeper level.
Common yoga terms:
- Yoga: Meaning “yoke” or “unite”, is all about the harmony between body and mind.
- Yogi (m)/ Yogini (f): Someone who practices yoga.
- Hatha: Meaning “sun and moon”, is the basic style of yoga that most practices fall under.
- Pranayama: The breathing techniques which aim to build “prana“, or energy.
- Asana: The physical yoga poses. For example, “tree pose” is an asana.
- Om: The sacred chanting syllable of yoga, believed to echo the fundamental sound of the universe.
- Namaste: A common salutation usually said at the end of each class, it literally translates to “I bow to you”. More commonly used to mean “the divine in me honors the divine in you.”
- Yamas: The five ways to relate to others, and structure one’s moral conduct. The five yamas are nonviolence, truth and honesty, non-stealing, moderation, and non-possessiveness.
- Buddhi: The intellect
- Chakras: The centers of radiating life force, or energy, located between the spinal column and the top of the head.
- Guru: Literally a “dispeller of darkness”, meaning a spiritual teacher.
- Mantra: Sacred chant words, such as “Om”.
Study up and impress your yoga class next week! Hmm…now if only I could translate yoga into binary code…