Yoga can be a great way to get active and stay healthy. However, you might notice that people in the studio are using words that you don’t quite understand. Asanas? Mudra? These aren’t words that are used in everyday life.
That’s because a lot of the yoga language is based on Sanskrit, and ancient language that nobody really speaks anymore. Study up on some of these ancient yoga terms, and it will help you stay focused in the studio and take your practice to the next level!
Before going with anything else, let’s think about what yoga actually means. Yoga is a broad term for a number of practices that originated in ancient India. The more you practice yoga, the more you’ll start to hear about different forms.
Those that practice yoga are called yogis. So whenever you put on some of your Yogiwear clothes and hit the mat, you’re being a bit of a yogi yourself!
An asana, in the simplest form, is just any type of pose. If you hear your yoga say things like shavasana or navasana, they’re just saying a certain Sanskrit word and adding “pose” to the end. We also translate these to English, so shavasana would be “corpse pose” and navasana is “boat pose.”
Mudras are any type of pose you use with your hands. A common mudra would be putting your hands together in a praying position, placed in front of the heart. Other mudras might have the hands extended up toward the sky. Mudras are an important part of any asana!
The term pranayama stems from prana, which is Sanskrit for “life force” or “breath.” Pranayama is the regulation of your breath to make sure that you’re controlling your mind and body. Breathing is an important part of yoga since it brings us deeper into our poses and connects our minds with our bodies.
If you signed up for a hatha yoga class, get ready to sweat! Hatha is a reference to all the more powerful postures in yoga – which also means the most physically strenuous. This style of yoga is meant to unite the body and the mind through rigorous asanas.
At the end of every yoga class you have, your yoga instructor is going to say “namaste.” This comes from an ancient Indian tradition of namaskar, or greeting others as a sign of respect. When you say namaste with your instructor, it’s a sign of mutual respect, as well as a bit of a greeting/goodbye.
There are hundreds of different yoga terms that you should learn to improve your practice, but these common ones should help a lot. Not only will you be able to better understand what other yogis are saying, but you’ll also have a deeper understanding for what you’re actually doing while on the mat. Namaste!