Yoga 101: Ten terms defined for Students

Posted by on Sep 4, 2012

Greetings Yogis!

Have you ever been in class and the Yoga teacher says something and you aren’t exactly sure of its meaning?

If your answer is yes, you aren’t alone. In my personal experience, questions about Sanskrit terms and their meanings come up pretty regularly in class, so I have complied a list of ten terms that yoga students might find beneficial to know.

  • Asana: Physical yoga postures, poses or positions. In Sanskrit, to sit.
  • Bandha: Bonds or locks within the body in areas where energy can be held and include Jalandhara (throat),Uddiyana (abdomen) and Mula (perineum).
  • Chakra: Spiraling centers of energy within the body, that regulate the flow of Prana. There are 7 major Chakras found along the center line of the body that correspond to areas with high concentrations of nerve endings. In Sanskrit, wheel.
  • Hatha: In Sanskrit Hatha means sun (Ha) and moon (tha), the pairing of opposites. In yoga Hatha essentially refers to any physical practice or style of yoga that utilizes Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath work) and Mediation.
  • Mantra: A word or phrase that is repeated, verbally or mentally and might be utilized during Asana practice or Meditation.
  • Mudra: Means “seal” in Sanskrit and is most often used to describe the different hand and finger positions that stimulate a specific type of energy flow or intention in the body.
  • Namaste: A greeting and sign of respect commonly used at the beginning and/or end of class, that translates from Sanskrit to mean “I bow to you” or “The spirit within me, shows recognition of the spirit within you.”
  • OM or Aum: The sound made by the vibration of the Universe. This term is may be chanted at the start or end of a yoga session.
  • Prana: Life force, breath, energy, light and vitality.
  • Pranayama: The name for breathing exercises practiced in yoga. In Sanskrit it means to “draw out” or in some translations “to control” the breath/energy.

I hope you found this explanation of the terms to be informative and easy to understand. Stay tuned for future blogs that offer more information on each of these aspects of yoga. Are there other terms that you are looking to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading with us,
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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