When you are heading into new territory, it is helpful to have a map. Hiking in Yosemite, you need a map showing the mountainous terrain. In New York, you need to know the city blocks and major landmarks to orient yourself.
Take yoga, and you may hear the teacher using Sanskrit words for yoga poses and concepts. We thought you might find this glossary of yoga terms helpful in translating some of the more commonly used terms.
Asana: (“seat”): Physical postures of yoga.
Guru: Teacher or master; one who illuminates the darkness.
OM (or Aum): Considered to be the first sound of creation. Om is frequently chanted before, after and/or during yoga classes.
Pranayama: Breath awareness to facilitate inner stillness and awareness.
Hatha Yoga: From “ha” (sun) and “tha” (moon), hatha yoga seeks to unify opposites – body and mind – and describes any of the physical practices of yoga.
Mantra (“tool or instrument of thought”): Sounds, syllables, words or groups of words that are repeated with the goal of creating a positive transformation; a sacred thought or a prayer.
Meditation: Focusing and calming the mind often through breathwork to reach deeper levels of consciousness.
Mudra: A seal; Positions of the body that have an influence on the energies of the body, or mood. Mostly the hands and fingers are held in a mudra.
Namaste: Commonly said at the end of yoga class by the instructor and the students. One beautiful interpretation is: I honor that place in you where the whole Universe resides. And when I am in that place in me and you are in that place in you, there is only one of us.
Props: Tools such as mats, blocks and straps used to extend range of motion and facilitate ease in a yoga pose.
Savasana: Final relaxation; literally translated as “corpse pose.”
Ujjayi (a.k.a as Hissing Breath, Victorious Breath):A type of pranayama in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out; most often used in association with yoga poses, especially in the vinyasa style.
Yoga: From the Sanskrit “yug” meaning “union,” yoga is an ancient discipline in which physical postures, breath practice, meditation and philosophical study are used as tools for achieving liberation.