Top 5 yoga terms you need to know

IMG_1502Oh, Sanskrit, the ancient and crazy language of yoga.  We’ve all found ourselves deep in the middle of a yoga pose when the teacher calls out some whacky sounding Sanskrit words and suddenly you’re lost.  “Did she just tell us to return to downward dog or remind us of a breathing exercise?”  It takes years of regular practice to begin to feel comfortable with hearing dozens of poses called out by their Sanskrit names, but in the meantime there are just 5 important terms that you need to know to feel at ease and in control during any class-

1. Om– Usually sung or chanted at the beginning or end of class.  It is said to be the sound of all the sounds of the universe coming together, symbolizing oneness, connectedness, and togetherness.  In some styles of yoga it is pronounced in 3 long syllables- ‘aahhhh’, ‘ooooooh’, ‘mmm’.

2. Namaste– Loosely translated as ‘the light in me bows to the light in you’ or ‘the goodness in me honors the goodness in you’.  One of the kindest salutation any being can make to another.  It means that there is goodness in all of us and is a way of showing your deepest respect.  There are parts of India that use this word to say ‘hi’ to each other.  What a meaningful greeting to say to everyone you come in contact with!  In the picture above, I’m holding the symbol for namaste, a word I think is so beautiful that an hour after that picture was taken became my tattoo.

3. Asana– The generic term for pose or posture.  Used to refer to the part of class that is not just breathing, mediating, or relaxing, but rather moving and posing physically.  This word is put at the end of other Sanskrit terms to signify that it is a physical pose.

Tattoo4. Pranayama– Breathing.  To practice pranayama is to practice a type of breathing exercise (whether it’s Ujai, alternate nostril, 3 part breath, etc).  This can be done seated, standing, or laying, as long as your primary focus is your breath.

5. Sivasana– Ah, my favorite pose.  This refers to corpse pose, the relaxation pose at the end of class, where you lay on your back, feet fall open, palms up, eyes closed, and just relax into the earth.  It is a time to feel the effects of your practice and allow your world to slow down for a few moments.

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