yoga pose names

Yoga Vocabulary 4: Yoga Pose Names

It might seem like you’ll never manage to learn the names of all the yoga pose names — and that might be true, because there are thousands upon thousands of poses and variations. But you will learn a lot of them (even in Sanskrit!) as you continue your practice.

Here’s where it gets confusing: some poses are known by several different names, depending upon the yoga style or tradition and the teacher. My yoga teacher, Yogrishi Vishvketu, spent five years putting together this book, Yogasana, to clarify more than 800 yoga pose names and meanings. Now that I’ve completed my 500 hours of yoga teacher training with Vishva, I’m re-committing to using these yoga pose names, even though for the past few years I’ve fallen into some mainstream naming habits (even in my book!).

Tadasana: Palm Tree Pose

Often called mountain pose in your typical yoga class, this is the pose where we stand tall with our arms by our sides, and it translates not to mountain pose, but to palm tree pose.

This is a variation of tadasana called uttolanatadasana, or balancing palm tree pose.

Candrakalasana: Moon Phase Pose

More often called ardhacandrasana (which is something else–see below), moon phase is one of my favorite balancing poses:


Ardhacandrasana: Half Moon Pose

Pronounced with a “ch” sound, the photo below shows ardhacandrasana. Candrasana is moon pose, with both hands together above the head.


Parvatasana: Mountain Pose

Uh, oh. I know this is confusing. You know this one as downward dog, or adho mukha svanasana, but downward dog is actually a little bit different: in true downward dog, the forehead touches the floor. I can’t do it, or I’d show it to you. The pose we often call downward dog, and what I’m doing in this picture, is parvatasana.

But. You will hear it called downward dog unless you’re in one of my classes (and even then sometime I still slip up, since I got in the habit of calling it downward dog, too!).

mountain pose not downward dog


Cetakasana: Horse Pose

I often refer to this as low lunge in my classes, but its proper name is cetakasana, pronounced with a “ch” sound at the beginning.

Cetakasana with wide arms, a slight variation.


What other names have you heard for these poses?


For more Yoga Vocabulary, see these:

Yoga Vocabulary 1: Non-English Words

Yoga Vocabulary 2: Yoga Body Parts

Yoga Vocabulary 3: Styles of Yoga

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