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An Intro To Sanskrit Yoga Terms

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Sanskrit is an ancient, beautiful language - one of the oldest languages in the world - and if you've ever been in a yoga class that uses traditional terminology, you will have heard some of it spoken.

Here's a quick guide to some of the Sanskrit terms you're likely to hear in a yoga session.

Greetings and words

'Namaste' means the divine light in me bows to the divine light in you, it's used as a special greeting or salutation.

'Shanti' means peace, it will often come up in greetings, mantra and guided meditations.

'Om' is the universal sound, often used in mantra either on its own or as part of a repeated saying. When we say it out loud, we are connecting ourselves with the universe.

'Prana' is our life force, or energy, that flows through all living beings. It is similar to the concept of Qi from China.

'Chakras' are seven energy centres, or wheels, in the body. Yoga philosophy dictates that when these chakras spin smoothly and evenly, it promotes good health physically, mentally and spiritually.

'Nadis' are energy channels that flow throughout the body. It's said there are 72,000 nadis. Blockages of these channels are said to lead to disease, imbalance or illness, and yoga practices help remove these blockages.

'Agni' is digestive fire. This is all about the energy our body uses when we eat food, digest it and it is broken down and transported around our body down to our cells for use. Ayurveda - the corresponding health system to yoga - recognises that when our agni is balanced, our health is at its best. We do this through a range of practices, from breathing (pranayama), to yoga poses, to the types of foods we eat.

Asanas (Poses)

Many yoga pose names end in 'asana' - for example, Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). Asana simply means seat, or pose.


Some pose names include words that describe the body's position in some way. For example:

'Supta' means reclined, or lying down. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Butterfly Pose), Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose).

'Ardha' means half - Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), Ardha Uttanasana (Half Forward Fold/halfway lift).

'Adho' means downward - Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Downward Facing Tree, or handstand).

Image / DepositPhotos

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