Yoga Glossary: Definitions and explanations of key terms
Yoga is an ancient and holistic practice that allows for harmony between body, mind and soul. Although yoga has become more popular and accessible in recent years, the terms and concepts of yoga can sometimes be difficult for beginners to understand. This yoga glossary provides definitions and explanations for key terms such as asana, pranayama, mantra, chakra, karma, and many others. Each term is carefully defined to help practitioners better understand and deepen their yoga practice. In this article, we will explore the most essential concepts of yoga, from physical postures (asanas) to personal rules (niyamas) to types of yoga such as bhakti, jnana and karma.
Glossary of 30 Sanskrit words related to yoga and its philosophy
- Asana – posture
A physical position that is used to keep the body stable and comfortable during a prolonged period of meditation.
- Pranayama – breath control
Breath control techniques to regulate the body’s vital energy.
- Mudra – gesture
Gestures or hand positions that are used to channel energy into the body.
- Bandha – locking
Muscle locks that are used to control and direct energy in the body.
- Mantra – sacred formula
A formula or phrase repeated to bring focus, inner peace and connection with the divine.
- Samadhi – state of deep meditation
A deep meditative state of consciousness characterized by a dissolution of the ego and a union with the universe.
- Nadi – energy channel
The energetic channels of the subtle body that carry vital energy (prana) throughout the body.
- Chakra – energy center
The energy centers of the subtle body that are linked to specific organs and functions in the physical body.
- Shakti – divine feminine energy
The divine feminine energy that is associated with creativity, strength and power.
- Shanti – peace
Inner peace, peace of mind.
- Dharma – duty
The duty or responsibility to live a just and ethical life.
- Karma – action
The energy produced by actions, thoughts and emotions, which influences a person’s future destiny.
- Guru – spiritual guide
A spiritual guide to help find the path to personal and spiritual fulfillment.
- Satsang – company of truth
The practice of gathering with others who seek truth and spiritual wisdom.
- Om – primordial mantra
A sacred and primordial sound that is used to induce a deep meditative state of consciousness.
- Hatha – strength
A type of yoga that focuses on physical strength, flexibility and balance.
- Raja – royal
A type of yoga that focuses on meditation, self-awareness and mental concentration.
- Jnana – knowledge
A type of yoga that focuses on self-knowledge and understanding the nature of the universe.
- Bhakti – devotion
A type of yoga that focuses on devotion and divine love.
- Karma – action
A type of yoga that focuses on selfless action, service and the well-being of others.
- Tantric – connection
A type of yoga that focuses on the connection and harmonization of male and female energy in the body.
- Niyama – personal rules
Personal rules or practices that help maintain a healthy spiritual life.
- Yama – social rules
Social rules or codes of conduct that help maintain an ethical and just life.
- Surya Namaskar – sun salutation
A series of yoga postures that are performed while greeting the sun, which brings vitality and energy to the body.
- Ujjayi – victorious breathing
A breathing technique that involves deep inhalation and controlled exhalation that produces a purring sound.
- Savasana – corpse pose
A final relaxation posture where the body lies on the floor, eyes closed, to allow deep relaxation and integration of the benefits of the practice.
- Drishti – visual fixation point
A visual fixation point that is used to maintain focus and balance during a posture.
- Aum – universal sound
A sacred sound that represents the entire universe and is used to induce a state of deep meditation.
- Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses
A practice that involves the withdrawal of the senses from the external environment to allow for deep concentration and introspection.
- Vinyasa – fluid sequence
A flowing sequence of yoga movements and postures that are performed in coordination with the breath.
- Sutra – aphorism
An aphorism or maxim that contains spiritual wisdom or truth.
- Kosha – envelope
The five envelopes or layers of the human body which are composed of different levels of consciousness.
- Namaste – respectful greeting
A respectful greeting that means “I greet the divinity in you” and is often used at the end of a yoga practice
Shiva is a word from the Sanskrit language, an ancient Indian language. Shiva is the name of a Hindu deity who is considered the destroyer of the universe to better recreate it. He is also considered the god of dance, music, meditation and asceticism in the Hindu tradition. The name Shiva literally means “he who is auspicious”, “he who is benevolent” or “he who is beneficial”.
Patanjali is also a word of Sanskrit origin that refers to a person rather than a deity. He is a famous Indian sage who is considered the father of yoga. Patanjali is credited with writing the Yoga Sutras, a founding text of yoga practice in India. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are considered the foundation of yoga philosophy, describing the ethical principles and meditation practices necessary to achieve the state of Samadhi, the realization of union with the Universe.
Glossary of the 15 most famous yoga positions in Sanskrit
Yoga is an age-old practice that involves a number of physical postures, called “asanas”. Many of the names of yoga postures are in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, and it can be difficult to understand their meaning without some knowledge of the language.
- Tadasana (The mountain posture)
“Tada” means mountain, and this posture is often used as a basic position for the other asanas. To practice, stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. Next, stretch your body upward by raising your arms above your head.
- Vrikshasana (Tree pose)
“Vriksha” means tree in Sanskrit, and this posture mimics the shape of a tree. To practice, stand with your feet together, then place your right foot on your left thigh and maintain your balance. Then raise your arms above your head.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Posture)
“Adho” means down, “mukha” means face, “svana” means dog, this posture imitates the posture of a dog stretching its body. To practice, start on all fours, then push your hips up in a V shape with your body.
- Trikonasana (Triangle posture)
“Trikona” means triangle, and this posture mimics the shape of a triangle. To practice, stand with your feet apart, then turn your right foot 90 degrees and reach down toward your right leg, while raising your left arm toward the sky.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
“Bhujanga” means cobra, and this posture imitates the shape of a cobra. To practice, lie on your stomach and place your palms under your shoulders. Then straighten your arms to lift your torso off the ground. This posture strengthens the muscles of the back and spine.
- Balasana (Child’s pose)
“Bala” means child, and this posture imitates the position of a child resting. To practice, start on your knees, then bend your torso forward until your forehead touches the ground. This posture allows you to relax and calm your mind.
- Utkatasana (The chair)
Utkatasana is a posture that strengthens the thighs and buttocks while opening the chest and shoulders. To practice Utkatasana, stand with your feet together and your arms extended above your head. Bend your knees and lower your hips to sit on an imaginary chair. Hold the position for a few breaths before returning to a standing position.
- Uttanasana (Standing claw)
Uttanasana is an intense stretching position for the hamstrings and lower back muscles. To practice Uttanasana, stand with your feet together and bend your knees slightly. Lean forward from your hips and place your hands on the floor or on your calves. Keep your back stretched and your head suspended between your arms for a few breaths.
- Trikonasana (The triangle)
Trikonasana is an opening posture that strengthens the ischios and core muscles while stretching the muscles of the legs and sides of the body. To practice Trikonasana, stand with your feet about one meter apart. Turn the right foot 90 degrees outward and the left foot slightly inward. Extend your arms horizontally and bend to your right side, extending your arm downward.
- Virabhadrasana II (The Warrior II)
Virabhadrasana II is a posture that strengthens the hamstrings and core muscles while opening the chest and shoulders. To practice Virabhadrasana II, stand with your feet about one meter apart. Turn the right foot 90 degrees outward and the left foot slightly inward. Bend the right knee so that the thigh is parallel to the floor and extend the arms horizontally, one in front and one behind the body. Keep your eyes forward.
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Definition: This posture, which resembles a cobra raising its head, is ideal for strengthening the back and shoulder muscles.
Examples of use: When practicing this asana, lie on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders. Then slowly straighten your arms and lift your torso while keeping your legs and pelvis on the floor. Hold this position for a few deep breaths before slowly lowering yourself back down.
Correct pronunciation: bu-jang-a-sa-na
- Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I Pose)
Definition: This powerful posture is ideal for strengthening the hamstrings, shoulders and back while improving balance and stability.
Examples of use: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Turn the right foot outward at 90 degrees and the left foot inward at approximately 45 degrees. Bend your right knee and stretch your arms upward. Hold the position for a few deep breaths before returning to the starting position and repeating on the other side.
Correct pronunciation: veer-ah-bah-dra-sa-na
- Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
Definition: This asana, which resembles a half-moon, is ideal for improving balance and coordination while strengthening the legs, hips and back.
Examples of use: Place yourself in triangle position (Trikonasana) with your left hand on your left hip. Next, raise your right leg and stretch your right arm upward while keeping your balance on your left leg. Try to hold the position for a few deep breaths before returning to the starting position and repeating on the other side.
Correct pronunciation: are-duh chuhn-drah-sa-na
- Shavasana (The corpse)
Definition: Shavasana is a final relaxation posture practiced at the end of the yoga session. It involves total relaxation of the body and mind while lying on the back.
Examples of use: “After an intense yoga session, I always feel so calmed practicing Shavasana.”
Correct pronunciation: sha-va-sa-na
- Vrksasana (The tree)
Definition: Vrksasana is a yoga posture that resembles a standing tree, where one leg is bent and placed on the thigh of the other leg. It is often used to improve balance and concentration.
Examples of use: “By practicing the tree pose regularly, I have noticed a significant improvement in my balance and focus.”
Correct pronunciation: vrk-sha-sa-na
- Bakasana (Crane pose)
Definition: Bakasana is an advanced yoga posture that involves sitting on bent arms while lifting the feet off the ground. It is often used to strengthen the muscles of the arms and abdomen.
Examples of use: “I worked for months to be able to do the crane pose, but I am so proud of what my body can accomplish.”
Correct pronunciation: ba-ka-sa-na
To translate more words look at this translation dictionary .
In conclusion, yoga is an ancient and sacred art that has been practiced for thousands of years to promote physical, mental and spiritual health. The glossary we have presented here is an introduction to some of the key terms and basic concepts of yoga, which can help deepen the understanding and practice of this discipline. Each term and concept in this glossary has a deep meaning and a particular importance in the practice of yoga. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, these terms can help you deepen your understanding of yoga and improve your practice. We hope this glossary has been helpful and has inspired you to continue exploring the wonders of yoga practice.