10 words to know before your first yoga class!

Yoga is a physical and spiritual practice that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago and we love the rich history that brings us in today’s society.  However, we have come a long way over 5000 years and lots has changed and the one thing we really love here at Yoger is being able to translate the deepest of traditions to our modern day, making out lives fuller from this ancient philosophy but knowing that we need to be able to relate to it, in our way, the modern day way.

One thing that comes up a lot is the terminology that is used in Yoga, although most good teachers, teach us this as part of our practice, it is good to have an understanding of certain terms in the Yogic Sanskrit that we can relate to, to help us enjoy our practice more.

Here is our quick guide to the top ten commonly used terms in Yoga

Asana – The postures or poses in your yoga practice.

Pranayama – Controlled breathing. Prana meaning life force (the breath) and Ayama meaning to restrain and control.

Sankalpa – Is a resolution, an intention that you make before your practice.  Some teachers guide you to do this, but it is something you can do yourself too. An example of a sankalpa would be to make a statement such as ‘I am strong and I am at peace’  You can also use this to set and intention or to dedicate your practice to yourself or to someone else and keep that intention throughout your practice. There is lots more information about it here on Yoga Journal

Sun salutation – This is known as the birth of your yoga practice. Most classes begin with sun salutations. They are a series of poses performed in a sequence to build up heat within the body. It could be consider the yoga equivalent to warming up the body and preparing your mind for your practice.

Vinyasa – Although this is now consider a style of yoga, vinyasa actually means a sequence of asanas (poses)

Mudra – A symbolic ritual or gesture usually using the hands.  Most commonly used is the Chin Mudra, where your thumb and forefinger touch and the other fingers lay flat. Used in a crossed leg seated position the backs of the hands in chin mudra are gently rested on the knee.

Mantra – this can be a repeated word or a short sentence, said in your mind or out loud. Mantras help focus the mind and in history have been believed to have powers that transform our lives.

Om – Is a chant sometimes used at the beginning and end of a yoga class. It is said to be the first sound of the universe and in chanting with others it is also said to unify you and bring a feeling of community.

Namaste – A greeting heard at the end of yoga classes.  Its meaning short meaning is ‘my soul honours your soul’  For a longer version take a look here.

Savasana – Also known as corpse pose, the death of your practice. It is the last and some say the most important pose. You will lie on your back with you palms facing up and your whole body relaxed. Yoga teachers usually provide blankets and eye pillows and dim the lights to ensure you are super comfortable. You can let your mind and body relax after the challenging sequences in your practice for a few minutes before the class ends.


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