A Quick guide to Sanskrit for Yoga

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012

Depending on the instructor and style of practice, you may or may not be exposed to the Sanskrit terminology of yoga. If you are familiar with the Sanskrit names for the postures, you may have noticed that some of the names have many parts or sounds, each of which represent an aspect of the posture. The same sounds are found over and over again in the terms as they are descriptive words. An example of this is the word Asana, which is also the ending sound of almost every yoga posture.

This guide is designed to help you decode some of the yoga terminology, introducing some of the most common words and sounds that you may encounter during your yoga class.

Adho- Downward. Adho Muhka Savasana- Downward Facing Dog Pose

Ardha- Half. Ardha Chandrasana- Half Moon Pose

Asana- Seat/Pose/Posture.

Baddha- Bound. Baddha Konasana- Bound Angle Pose

Danda- Staff. Chaturanga Dandasana- Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Eka- One. Eka Pada Viparita Dandasana- One-Legged Inverted Staff Pose

Hasta- Hand. Urdhva Hastasana- Raised Hand/Upward Salute

Janu- Knee. Janusirasana- Head to Knee Pose

Mukha- Face/mouth. Urdhva Mukha Savasana- Upward Facing Dog Pose

Pada- Leg/Foot. Eka Pada Sirasana- One-Foot Behind the Head Pose

Parivitta- Revolved. Parivrtta Trikonasana- Revolved Triangle

Parsva- Side/Lateral. Parsva Bakasana- Side Crane/Crow

Prasarita- Spread/Stretched. Prasarita Padottanasana- Wide-Legged Forward Fold

Raja- Lord/King. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana- One Legged King Pigeon Pose

Salamba- Supported. Salamba Sarvangasana- Supported Shoulder Stand

Sirsa- Head. Sirasana- Headstand

Supta- Reclined. Supta Virasana- Reclined Hero Pose

Tri- Three. Trikonasana- Three angle/Triangle Pose

Urdhva- Upward/Raised. Urdhva Dhanurasana- Upward Bow Pose

Utthita- Extended. Utthita Hasta Padangustasana- Extended Hand-to-Big toe Pose

Viparita- Inverted. Viparita Karani- Inverted Action/Legs-up-on the Wall Pose

I encourage you to always ask your instructor if you have any questions about the posture names. With a practice that has been around as long as yoga there are variations in names and translations, so you may find that different teacher call postures by different names. Pronunciation may also vary between instructors and styles, which may be the result of regional dialect differences and differing interpretation of the translation from Sanskrit symbols to alphanumeric characters. An example of this is the s/sh sound in the word savasana, which can be pronounced as both sa-vas-ana and shi-vas-ana.

I hope that you enjoyed and maybe even learned a little from this post. Please leave any questions or comments below, and enjoy the rest of your day.

Namaste

by Ashley Freeman RYT

Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on


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