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Sanskrit is the traditional language of yoga, and chances are that a few Sanskrit terms are bound to come up during class or in readings on yoga. Since our first Yoga 101 post on the meaning of common yoga terms was so well received, we thought to expand our yoga vocabulary list to include ten additional terms for your learning pleasure!
Drishti- A focused gaze that is used during an asana practice in order to develop awareness and build concentration. Nine drishtis have been formally identified and they include the tip of the nose, the third eye, upward (towards the sky), the hand(s), the thumb(s), the naval, the toes, to the left and to the right.
Gunas- The name that encompasses the three qualities of nature from which everything in the universe is made from; Rajas (activity), Sattva (purity) and Tamas (inerta).
Guru- In Sanskrit means “teacher” or “master”. While a Guru may teach on content of a spiritual or religious nature, a Guru is not necessarily a religious leader.
Kriyas- Yoga cleansing practices for the body that include breathing techniques (pranayama), nasal irrigation (neti) and abdominal churning. There are additional Kriyas, namely stomach (dhauti) and intestinal (basti) cleansing, which require special instruction and assistance to practice.
Kundalini- The energy that lays “coiled like a snake” at the base of the spine that can be awakened through the process of meditation and pranayama. Hatha Yoga practices can be used to raise kundalini up through the chakras. Kundalini also refers to a popular style of yoga.
Nadis- Meaning “flow”, these are the energy channels or meridians that run through the body. The Sushumna Nadi, running along the spine in relation the the chakras is the largest and best know of the thousands of nadis in the body.
Sadhana- Means to accomplish in Sanskrit and is considered by some to be a spiritual practice, but also includes anything that you do with consistency and discipline that comes from your heart, for many this may be their yoga practice.
Shakti- A sacred force, the primordial cosmic energy and the divine feminine creative energy. In Sanskrit, Shakti translates as, “to be able”.
Sage- A spiritual teacher, that is often stereotyped in media as a wise old man. Marichyasana, sometimes called the Sage twist, is know as the pose dedicated to the sage Marichi, who in Vedic philosophy is one of the lords of creation.
Yogi/Yogini- Someone who practices yoga.
We hope that you have enjoyed our yoga vocabulary! Let us know if there are any other terms you would like explained by leaving a comment below!
Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your practice,
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+