When you first start in our yoga classes, you may notice many unfamiliar terms being used throughout. While yoga terminology can be confusing initially, understanding this language will provide you with a more in-depth and rich understanding during yoga class. It also makes the class more enjoyable when listening to your instructor!
Did you know the word yoga means to “yoke” or “bind.” It represents the union of the mind, body, and spirit. For this reason, practicing yoga requires extreme dedication and diligence; in order to better understand the purpose and meaning behind yoga, it is essential to understand the language surrounding it.
- Asana is a type of yoga that refers to the body and posture. When you hear the phrase “asana” during a yoga class, it refers to the actual poses and the physical practice of yoga. In Sanskrit, asana directly translates to “seat”.
- Your ‘chakra’ are different energy sources or centers throughout your body that are located between the base of the spine and the top of the head. Incidentally, we each have seven different chakras in seven distinct locations:
- the root – (Muladhara); base of the spine
- the sacral (Svadhisthana) – lower abdomen
- solar plexus (Manipura) – upper abdomen
- heart (Anahata) – centre of the chest
- throat (Vishuddha) – throat area
- third eye (Ajna) – forehead, between the eyebrows
- crown (Sahasrara) – the very top of the head
- A mantra is a word, phrase, or saying that is typically repeated either out loud or in the mind throughout meditation with the purpose of quieting unwanted thoughts and fostering deeper concentration.
- Vinyasa is a type of yoga that involves stringing your postures together so that they move seamlessly; it is commonly referred to as a flow. This style of yoga helps to develop a balanced body in addition to offering more variation in poses.
- Chaturanga is a movement that starts in the high plank position. From here, you will bend your elbows back, and gradually lower yourself to your mat. Once you are close to the ground you hold the plank position there. As you lower all the way down, exhale while making sure your elbows are close to your side.
- Namaste is pronounced naa·muh·stay. Speaking this word is typically a ritual saved for the end of class. You will sit on your mat, close your eyes, and you will bring your hands together to your chest. Your instructor will have you and the other yogis repeat the word “namaste” and bow your head toward your heart. This word loosely translates to “the light within me bows to the light within you.” It is a greeting of respect and formality.
- The om sound is mostly chanted at the beginning or end of a class. The om sound is a three-part pronunciation of – “aahh”, “ohh”, and “mmm”. In Hindu tradition, om is said to contain the entire universe. Chanting the om with a group of people will also help to unify the group and help to create a sense of community. In many classes, om is chanted 3 times. While there are different interpretations of the meaning, some say that this represents peace physically, mentally, and spiritually.
- Meditation is a process that allows the mind to be cleared and to have an agenda. During meditation, you focus on your breathing. This is often done by counting to 10 and coming back down. While in meditation it can be hard to fully clear your mind, and this is perfectly normal. Some benefits of meditation are reducing fatigue, increasing focus and concentration, and boosting energy.
Yoga is a beautiful and amazing practice with all sorts of rituals, aspects, and variations. At Falls Yoga and Barre, we pride ourselves in creating an open and welcoming environment for beginner and expert yogis. Schedule a class and join us for a session.