What is a chakra? Why do we say namaste? If you are new to yoga, you may find yourself wondering about some of these unfamiliar words. Much of the terminology related to yoga comes from the Sanskrit language — the Sanskrit root for the word yoga means to join or to unite — and classes often are taught with a combination of Sanskrit terms and their translations. Having a basic understanding of some common yoga terms may help you feel more comfortable as you begin or expand your yoga practice.
Terms and definitions
Asana – Literally seat; refers to the different postures or poses that are part of yoga. See below for a list of several common poses in Sanskrit and English.
Chakra – Literally wheel; refers to different centers in the body through which energy flows. There are seven chakras — root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra, and crown chakra — and each one represents a different characteristic or ability, such as our ability to love (heart chakra) or communicate (throat chakra).
Mantra – A sacred sound or word that is chanted or sung repeatedly. A mantra is often used as a tool to improve focus and concentration during meditation.
Namaste – A respectful greeting when people (relatives, friends, guests, or strangers) meet or depart. The act of pressing the palms lightly together and holding them near the heart with fingertips pointing up represents the firm and sincere heart, which says, “You are within me, as I am within you,” thereby acknowledging the unity of all things. It is usually spoken and performed with the palms-touching gesture at the same time, but it also may be spoken without the action or performed silently; all three forms carry the same meaning.
Om – The primordial sound. Om is one of the most sacred mantras and is representative of the absolute oneness of the universe.
Prana – The life force or vital energy that keeps us alive; breath.
Pranayama – The control of prana through breathing techniques.
Satsang – The company of a good person or the meeting of like-minded people to share knowledge, understanding, generosity, and love.
Vinyasa – A fluid sequence of poses that is synchronized with inhaling and exhaling. Linking body movement with breath can be used as a meditative practice.
Yogi/Yogini – One who practices yoga.
Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward-Facing Dog Pose, Downward Dog or Down Dog
Balasana – Child’s Pose
Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose
Garudasana – Eagle Pose
Gomukhasana – Cow-Faced Pose
Janu Sirsasana – Head-to-Knee Pose or Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
Matsyasana – Fish Pose
Navasana – Boat Pose
Padahastasana – Foot-to-Hand Pose
Savasana – Corpse Pose (This pose is often the last pose of a yoga class, used for final relaxation.)
Tadasana – Mountain Pose
Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
Utkatasana – Chair Pose or Awkward Pose
Uttanasana: Standing Forward Bend
Virabhadrasana – Warrior Pose (There are three different Warrior poses: I, II, and III.)
Vrksasana – Tree Pose
(Sources: Wikipedia, YogaFit Teacher Training Manual)
Winged Heart Yoga welcomes yogis of any age or stage. If you have any questions about kids or adult yoga classes, send a note or call (612) 735-0296.