Yoga Vocab: What in the Word?!


When I first started yoga, and even now, there were some words I had no idea what they were! I decided to include a short guide for those interested in knowing some of the yoga vocab. This is only a short list of some words you may or may not have heard that yogis use in practice and in meditation. I tried to keep the definitions short and sweet and, when I can, I will include an example. I used a couple websites as sources as well as my own current knowledge.

Asana - the yoga poses or postures. Yoga is more than the poses, but asana is part of yoga.
Ashtanga Yoga - also known as Power Yoga. A style that is more challenging to build strength and flexibility.
Bikram Yoga - a sequence of 21 yoga poses done in a very hot room.
Chakras - "Centers of radiating life force or energy that relate to major nerve plexuses and glands in the physical body. There are seven chakras that store and release life force, energy. Simplified, they are: the top of the head; the brow, slightly above and between the eyebrows; the throat, the heart, the solar plexus, digestive center; the base of the spine; and the sacral center, located three to four inches above the base of the spine." (From Yopa)
Chaturunga - It is the Sanskrit word for, basically, a half-pushup. I do not think I have ever heard an instructor use its English translation, which is Four-Limbed Staff Pose. Too long, right? 
Dharma - Self discipline - responsibility and right action.
Find Your Breath - You are not actually looking for your breath, silly. It means to come back to your breath. Notice how you are breathing. Give attention to it.
Flow Yoga - yoga that has smooth transitions between poses.
Guru - a spiritual teacher.
Hatha Yoga - yoga that balances the mind, body, and spirit. It focuses on breath and sustained postures.
Iyengar Yoga - a yoga style in which focuses on the body and alignment of poses.
Mandala - a circular geometric design to represent the cosmos and spirit's journey.
Mantra - chanted words
Mudras - yoga in the hands, to direct the life current throughout the body. 
Namaste - my favorite meaning of the word is: "My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one." My yoga teacher would recite this at the end of practice. It is a great way to honor your body, honor those around you, and close the practice in a grateful manner.
Om - the sound of the Divine. The mantric word chanted in meditation.
Open Your Heart - No, do not imagine open heart surgery when a yoga teacher says this. It means to be open. Be loving and accepting all things as they are, without judgment. Let the feelings flow through you.

Prana - controlling life force using breath.
Pranayama - the extension of breath
Vinyasa - steady flow of yoga poses connected to the breath. A great example of a vinyasa is the Sun Salutation.
Yoga - "The science of dealing with the search for one's soul. Achieving union with the supreme spirit through physical (asanas) and mental (meditaion) disciplines, as well as controlled breathing." (From Yopa)
Yoga Sutra - Many many many years ago, PataƱjali wrote down what yoga is. It is "the texbook" of yoga. PataƱjali is known as the father of yoga, as this is what he know as what yoga is. To clarify, he is not the founder of yoga. Yoga has been around way longer than he has, he just wrote them down.
Yogi - a person that practices yoga.
Yogini - a female that practices yoga.

Am I missing any crucial yoga words that you all have noticed? Please let me know, I would love to add them to the list (:

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1 comment:

  1. awesome article. i learnt a lot and i love the namaste definition!!