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Yoga inspirational words

All the Yoga terms to know

If you are not familiar with Yoga, you may not understand the words you will hear during your yoga classes.

This is because, like all disciplines, yoga has its own language, its own Yoga vocabulary, and the basic language of yoga is technically Sanskrit. In practice, the yoga teacher will incorporate many non-Sanskrit instructions, and then as you go through the course, move on with Sanskrit words.

It can be helpful before you start a yoga session to know some of the most common yoga terms, so you don’t get lost.

The most used Sanskrit Yoga terms


Asana is simply the physical poses and postures practiced during a yoga session. He is one of the “8 limbs” of yoga, the others count breathing and meditation.

Asana can describe the general style of yoga which includes movement, but it can also mean a single pose. For example, the downward facing dog is an asana.

Although the literal translation of asana is “seat,” this term refers more specifically to yoga positions. You will notice that each yoga pose is followed by an asana when spoken in Sanskrit.


Namaste is a common greeting in yoga. You’ve probably seen it printed on handbags or T-shirts. Some would even say that it is overused. But what does this really mean?

Namaste translates directly to “the light in me bows before the light in you”. It is said to send peaceful energy to someone or something. The “light” referred to is the same in each of us. So the namaste can also be a reminder that we are all one.

This is the perfect way to end a yoga practice. This is why your yoga teacher greets you at the end of each class with a solemn namaste: a way to unite your energies. So, what do they say at end of yoga class? Namaste.
How to make the namaste? Join your two hands palm to palm at the heart chakra, close your eyes and tilt your head.


The word chakra literally means “wheel” or “circle”. But in the context of yoga, it’s a little different. The subtle energy centers in the human body are also called Chakra (plural chakras). Seven of these chakras then constitute the main energy centers which are, while being interconnected, arranged along the spine of the human body.

Yoga is really meant to help prana, or life force energy, move through our energy body through the chakras. The yoga postures, mantras, meditation and breathing techniques of pranayama are therefore all intended to support this energetic movement along the chakra system.


Vinyasa is a sequence of yoga poses in a fluid sequence. This expression can be used to ask you to relate your breathing to your movement.

Some people consider vinyasa to be an independent type of yoga, while others say it is part of all practices.


This Sanskrit word refers to the work of breathing or breathing techniques. Prana roughly translates to “life force”, and yama means “to control”. Pranayama therefore consists of controlling one’s breathing through various exercises.

According to Richard Rosen, a yoga teacher since 1987, the primary intention of pranayama was to stabilize breathing in preparation for meditation.
In yoga class, when the teacher uses the term pranayama, it is to remind everyone to focus on their breathing. When everyone is in a position that requires concentration, it’s easy to forget to breathe, and this word is meant to remind you.


Mantra is a phrase or sound made up of one or more syllables. It is a sacred mental formula that protects. It helps to purify one’s karma and attract benevolence.

Bandhas are voluntary contractions of the body intended to untie 3 main areas: the throat, the diaphragm and the perineum. It is a kind of energy channel that gives more power to pranayama exercises and asanas.


This is the mantra of mantras: in other words the most important mantra of all! It is in fact a sacred Sanskrit syllable which represents the original sound, the eternal creator verb. The sound it causes produces a so-called divine vibration from which the whole universe was created. When you do OM it has a direct impact and benefits on your physical and mental health.


Ujjayi is breathing that involves both inhaling and exhaling through the nose.
At the start of each class, your yoga teacher will remind you to “use your ujjayi breath”.

To perfect this breathing technique, there should be a slight constriction in the throat, but for now, remember to inhale and exhale through your nose when the teacher uses the term ujjayi. There are various breathing techniques that you can come across in a yoga class, but the flaw is ujjayi breathing.

The ujjayi is also called “breath of the ocean” or “breath of the warrior”. Ujjayi breathing involves inhaling and exhaling through the nose with deep breaths in and out. On the exhale, pretend you are trying to mist a mirror.


Drishti means “gaze”, and it is used in yoga practice to attract inward attention. Being able to fix the eyes in a specific spot during each pose and transition helps slow breathing, balance the body, and avoid being distracted by other people in the room.

Yoga terms sanskrit

Basic yoga postures

Sun salutation

This is a specific sequence often used in various yoga practices. It begins in a standing position. She then takes you across a high plank, upward facing dog, downward facing dog, before returning to a standing position.

A sun salutation is a series of yoga movements (or flow) involving many positions. The two types of Sun Salutation are A and B. Sun Salutation A has 12 poses, and Sun Salutation B has 16. The purpose of these movements is to draw the energy of the sun, a symbol of worship in the Indian culture.

The way these yoga flows were designed integrates every organ and system in the body. The theory is that by facing east in the morning and performing a series of Sun Salutations, you can produce all the energy you need for the day while still getting a full workout for the mind, body and soul. The Sanskrit term for Sun Salutation is Surya Namaskara.

Downward facing dog

Downward facing dog is a specific sequence often used in many yoga practices. Its execution is as follows:
1) We start in a standing position
2) Then cross a high plank
3) Make a dog facing upwards
4) Make a downward facing dog
5) return to standing

This yoga pose is iconic, and it has many synonyms. In Sanskrit, it is called Adho mukha savanasana. In layman terms, it is simply an inverted V. It’s like touching the mat in front of your toes, but lifting your hips up and shifting them back while moving your arms up your mat.

If you’ve ever seen a dog stretch after standing up, you know exactly what a downward facing dog looks like. This pose is a staple in yoga practices. Not only does it strengthen the upper body, but it also increases flexibility, especially in the calves, which are often tight.


The famous posture of the mountain which is, in general, the first posture of the course and the starting posture of all the standing poses. It helps stretch the muscles. It is therefore about standing with feet together and arms at your sides.

yoga terms

And you know how a person who practices yoga? A yogist
The teacher is called a yogi and if it is a girl it is called a Yogini.
The shala is quite simply the room in which yoga is practiced.


Yoga is a great practice, and it can be done anywhere!

See our article on Katonah Yoga here and our article on Yoga symbols here.

See here a video on Yoga terms and poses.

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