Modern day yoga sessions follow a myriad of different styles, with some being more akin to a cardio workout and others being more of the gentler persuasion. However, if you’re keen to learn more about yoga or are just starting out, it’s good to get a grasp on some popular yoga terms. Becoming a little more familiar with yoga terminology can help you feel comfortable when you practice too. You can really get going with a yoga glossary!
The different disciplines of yoga practice use different terms and often yoga poses are talked about in the ancient language of Sanskrit, as well as these there are some useful yoga-related words to know:
- Asanas – Originally referring to being in a seated pose, sitting in a firm yet relaxed and still position, asanas nowadays refers to yoga poses in general. An asana is a balanced posture you hold to gain mind and body benefits as the energy flows. Another word used is yogasana.
- Namaste – A greeting which is common in India and at the beginning and the end of some yoga practices; said quietly with a slight bow over hands in the prayer position. In yoga, namaste is a sign of respect to the teacher, the other yogis and also to the practice itself. It translates as: “The light within me bows to the light within you.” Humility while being true to who you are is a running theme in yoga practice.
- Pranayama – The technique of breathing during yoga practice to control the breath. Pranayama of the breath is used as a meditative tool to get deeper into each pose and into the practice in general. It regulates the flow of energy, or Prana which is the life force, and inspires balance.
- Karuna – This means compassion in the true sense. It is a Buddhist philosophy of sheltering and embracing the distressed and alleviating the pain of others. Kindness and compassion lead the way to acceptance, which is central to yoga practice, the acceptance of oneself and of others.
- Mindfulness – When you bring the mind back to the present moment so that it can be aware and alert of this moment in time, regardless of the past and present, you are being mindful. Used in meditation, this awareness is an important element of yoga practice too where poses are mindfully achieved.
- Savasanas – More commonly known as the corpse pose and used as a resting posture or to end a yoga session. You can practice this at home too by sitting down on your feet with your knees spread wide and your body extended forward on the floor. Your arms should be outstretched with the palms facing down. The key is to keep the body soft, not rigid and use a cushion if you need some extra support if your knees and groin are not as open or flexible as they could be.
- Chakra – Energy points in the body, it is believed that we all have seven chakras which are centers lying along the energy channels of the body. Yoga practice, by instilling mind and body balance keeps these chakras open according to many yogis, creating wellbeing through the endocrine glands in the body to which they correspond.
- Surya Namaskar – Otherwise known as the Sun Salutation. A great way to wake up and stretch your whole being, with a pose that is deeply rooted in symbolism and mythology. This is a wonderfully grounding pose which energizes and lifts the spirits. Next month we’ll take a closer look at how to achieve this dynamic posture.
What is important with yoga practice is to let your awareness of what you are doing and what benefit it is having on you to come into focus. It is not necessary to learn all the many terms but having an understanding of where yoga practice has come from, as well as some of the terminology can add a deeper meaning to your yoga sessions and enhance your experience.
Looking to learn more? Contact us today to join a session.