If you are confused by the strange words your yoga teacher is using in class, please be reassured that you are not losing your hearing or going mad.
Yoga has originated from India over 5000 years ago and was first described in Sanskrit, one of the oldest human languages known to us. Today, teachers use a mixture of Sanskrit terms and common names to describe postures and concepts. Using the original Sanskrit terms is the best way to indicate a yoga posture across countries, cultures and languages.
Here are only a few terms that you might come across:
- Yoga – Means to yoke, join or unite. According to ancient Indian philosophy, Yoga is the integration of the physical and the spiritual in order to achieve mental and physical wellbeing. Through the training of the body and the mind, it is said to awaken deeper awareness and union with the universal consciousness.
- Asana (AH-sah-nas) – the Sanskrit word for “pose”. It translates as “seat”, but is what we call the physical postures of the yoga practice.
- Vinyasa – Translates as “To place in a special way” and is commonly used to describe a flowing yoga sequence. A practice of moving in and through postures synchronized with the breath.
- Prana – Often referred to as “Life Force Energy”, the vibratory force that animates all living things. In Chinese medicine, Prana is referred to as Chi.
- Chakras – The word chakra translates into “wheel” and chakras are wheel-like intersections of energetic channels within the body. Our seven primary chakras are located in the body following the line of the spinal column from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head, through which prana (life force or Chi) moves through the physical body.
- Pranayama – Is the controlling of life force energy (Prana) through breathing techniques.
- Mantra – is a word, syllable, or group of words or syllables repeated in the mind to help cultivate deep focus, while invoking a deity, feeling, way of being, or intention.
- Meditation – Means “To Become Familiar With”, and is the practice of complete concentration when the mind is fully focused on a single point, whether that be a mantra, an object, the breath, the body, or simply observing the flow of thoughts within the mind.
- Drishti – Translates as “Point of Focus”, and refers to your focal point, where you focus your eyes when practising asana, pranayama, or meditation.
- Mudra (moo-dra) – The word mudra translates as “seal” or “gesture”, most commonly practised with the hands, but can also incorporate the whole body, and is used to seal in energetic flow and help to manifest an intention or way of being.
- Om – The universal sound, often used to close a yoga practice, and when broken down has three syllables, each representing their own specific function. “Ah” represents creation, “Ooo” represents preservation, and “Mmmm” represents transformation.
- Namaste (na-mah-stay) – A Hindu salutation that means, “I bow to you”, and used as to close a yoga class, with the honourable expression of “The divine in me recognizes and honours the divine in you.” Namaste is always offered with the palms held together in front of the heart (Anjali Mudra).