Basic Vocabulary to Make you Fit in with Yoga Practitioners

Yoga can seem like a secret club sometimes. Everyone talks about “asanas” and “Pranayama,” and if you’re new to the practice, you may feel like you have to learn an entirely new language just to do some exercise – but it doesn’t have to be that way. By learning a few key phrases, you can learn more about yoga and fit in with people who have been doing yoga for years. It will also help you understand the deeper elements of yoga that can have important benefits for every aspect of your life. With this in mind, here are several essential yoga terms in Sanskrit, along with their English translations. 


  • Sanskrit – When you are in a yoga class, your teacher will likely call each yoga pose by a name in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is an ancient Indian language, and yoga terms are derived from this source.
  • Asana – A yoga pose or posture. 
  • Namaste – A traditional greeting that is commonly used at the beginning or end of yoga classes. The literal translation is “the divine in me honors, and bows, to the divine in you.”
  • Pranayama – It is the awareness and control of breathing patterns that are fundamental to yoga and its benefits. 
  • Vinyasa – It is a specific type of yoga that combines movements with breath control. This style of yoga involves long, flowing movements and is perhaps the most popular in Western society. It also acts as an overarching category in which other, more modern styles of yoga fit. 
  • Savasana – This is a specific pose and is usually the last one performed in most yoga classes. It is also known as the “corpse” pose because it basically involves the practitioner laying flat and focusing on the breath. 
  • Yogi/Yogini – A person who practices yoga. Yogi is masculine, whereas Yogini is used to describe women. 
  • Ashtanga – This is another type of yoga that is more traditional than others, and it practices progressive poses paired with breath control. It is athletic and encourages constant movement throughout the class. 
  • Hatha – An overarching category of yoga types. Many modern interpretations fall under this overall category, and it’s based on traditional yoga foundations. Classes that are called this are usually for beginners who need to get a strong grasp of the basics before they try anything more complicated. 
  • Ashram – A yoga retreat. These were traditionally located in India, but in recent years, Ashrams have been built all over the world. They offer isolation from the modern world, yoga classes, vegetarian food, and events designed to encourage a more yoga-friendly lifestyle. 
  • Chakra – These are energy points that are found throughout the body. Yoga contains a strong spiritual element, and people who enjoy this side of the practice believe that working on a specific chakra point helps stimulate and unblock energy flow. 
  • Mantra – These are words or sounds that are repeated while meditating to focus the mind on specific ideas, or clear the mind of extraneous chatter. It can be as simple as “om” or “compassion.”

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