Yoga comes with its own yoga vocabulary, which can be intimidating when you show up to your first yoga class. Make a quick study of this list to help you understand what the teacher is talking about if any of these non-English words sound up in your class.
You’ve probably heard this a lot, but what does it mean? Simply, it’s a greeting; yoga classes often end with the teacher saying “namaste” and all the students saying it back. It’s like saying hello to not just the person, but to the person’s very spirit. Elaborately, it’s like, “I bow to the divinity in you. I recognize our oneness.”
This is a mantra (see below) with a rich explanation: it is the very sound of the universe, the sound we instinctively make when we are both happy and sad or hurt. When we chant it, it creates a vibration in our bodies that is healing and calming.
A sacred sound, word, or phrase. Repeating mantras can help you stay focused and keep your mind from wandering.
A yoga pose. Any pose. The physical practice of yoga is asana. You’ll notice that the Sanskrit names of the poses all end in asana—savasana (corpse pose), tadasana (palm tree pose, more commonly called mountain pose), trikonasasa (triangle pose), and so on.
Pronounced kind of like oo-JYE (rhymes with shoe-MY), this is the breathing technique we use throughout our yoga practice. It’s called ocean-sounding breath, which is pretty apt: you inhale and exhale through the nose and a partially closed-off throat so that you can hear your exhales like a sigh or a whisper. It’s a wonderful technique that helps you control and slow your breath.
This is an energy center in the body, pronounced with a hard ch (like in cheese), but you often will hear it pronounced with a soft ch (like Charlotte). There are actually more than 1,000 of them, but when we talk about chakras we’re generally talking about the seven primary chakras. In English, these are the root, sacral, navel, heart, throat, third eye, and crown chakras.
This is the life force, which comes to us via our breath. Pranayama is a breathing technique, of which there are many and ujjayi is one.
What other non-English words have you heard in your yoga class that you had to look up when you got home?
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