Glossary of Terms

Common Yoga Terms (the Cliffs Notes version)


Asanas ("seat"): Physical postures of yoga.


Guru: Teacher or master; one who illumines the darkness.


OM (or Aum): Considered to be the first sound of creation. Om is frequently chanted before, after and/or during yoga classes.


Pranayama: Breath awareness to facilitate inner stillness and awareness. 


Hatha Yoga: From "ha" (sun) and "tha" (moon), hatha yoga seeks to unify opposites - body and mind - and describes any of the physical practices of yoga.


Mantra ("tool or instrument of thought"): Sounds, syllables, words or groups of words that are repeated with the goal of creating a positive transformation; a sacred thought or a prayer.


Meditation: Focusing and calming the mind often through breath work to reach deeper levels of consciousness.


Mudra: A seal. Positions of the body that have an influence on the energies of the body, or mood. Mostly the hands and fingers are held in a mudra.


Namaste: Commonly said at the end of yoga class by the instructor and the students. One beautiful interpretation: I honor that place in you where the whole Universe resides. And when I am in that place in me and you are in that place in you, there is only one of us.


Props: Tools such as mats, blocks and straps used to extend range of motion and facilitate ease in a pose.


Savasana: Final relaxation; literally translated as "corpse pose."


Ujjayi (a.k.a as Hissing Breath, Victorious Breath): A type of pranayama in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out; most often used in association with yoga poses, especially in the vinyasa style.


Yoga: From the Sanskrit "yug" (yoke), means "union". Yoga is an ancient discipline in which physical postures, breath practice, meditation and philosophical study are used as tools for achieving liberation.






*This is a sample of some of the most common poses, and includes intermediate poses.

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