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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
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.
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 Google+