Yoga, asana, pranayama, hand gestures - in yoga you will encounter a number of technical terms, most of which come from Sanskrit. First of all: You don't have to know all the terms before you can start with yoga. Nevertheless, it makes sense to know the most important yoga terms and their meaning in order to better understand the philosophy behind them and to go deeper into the practice. That's why we created a yoga dictionary with the most important yoga terms for you.
Sanskrit and Yoga: The most important terms and their origin
Sanskrit is an ancient language that originated in India and is also known as a sacred language. Many terms in yoga come from Sanskrit - that's why you encounter them regularly in yoga practice. Here comes our yoga dictionary with the most important yoga terms:
Yoga is a thousand year old philosophical teaching from India. Yoga means union or integration. With a holistic approach, body, mind and soul are to be brought into harmony through the combination of breathing techniques, physical exercises and meditation. You can find out more about this in our detailed article on Yoga .
The yoga term Asanas describes the many different postures and exercises that are used, for example in Hatha Yoga. The term asana is found again and again in the endings of the designations, as in Trikonasana, the triangle. A flow is a combination of several asanas that flow into one another.
Prana is the breath and describes the energy that can be released through the breath. Pranayama are breathing exercises and breathing techniques that help you to calm down and bring body and mind into harmony.
The Chakras are the invisible energy centers or sources of the body. There are 7 main chakras that run from the pelvic floor to the crown of the head. Translated, chakra means circle or wheel. Each chakra is associated with specific physical and mental issues. Blocked chakras can lead to problems in the corresponding areas. In chakra teachings you can open blocked chakras through yoga and meditation.
Ayurveda is the "science of life" and an ancient Indian health system. Health is considered holistically, central elements of Ayurveda practice are nutrition, massages and cleansing techniques, herbal medicine and yoga.
The Indian scholar Patanjali is the author of the Yogasutra, the classic textbook and guide to yoga, and is therefore considered the founder of yoga and yoga practice.
More yoga terms
You now know the most important yoga terms. You will encounter other important terms at the beginning and end of a yoga class, where singing often plays a role, and in the names of the yoga exercises, the asanas.
Greetings and chanting in yoga
Greeting rituals and chanting serve to get you in the mood for the yoga class and also to close the class. If it feels a little strange to you at first, you don't have to sing along straight away or join in with the om. You can also just listen and let it sink in.
You may come across these yoga terms:
Translated from Sanskrit, mudra means "seal". Mudras are symbolic hand gestures that are often used in meditation, sometimes during the performance of asanas.
Namasté is probably the most well-known mudra. In this gesture, the palms are gently pressed together in front of the chest, with the thumbs touching the sternum. Literally translated, Namaste means "I bow to you". You will often find the variants “I honor the divine in you” or “the divine in me bow to the divine in you” a little more freely. Namasté ends many yoga classes, but you can also use it at the beginning.
Mantra is Sanskrit and means syllable. Mantras should be anchored in consciousness through repetition. This is done through rhythm, vibration and sound by chanting the mantras out loud.
Om or Aum
Om or Aum is a well-known mantra that is often used at the beginning and end of a yoga class. Om stands for the great and universal whole. Singing it out loud causes the body to vibrate slightly.
Other terms from yoga: exercises
For the asanas there is a German name and one from Sanskrit. In yoga courses for beginners, both terms are often used - so you have the opportunity to learn the Sanskrit terms. We have the terms for the most important yoga exercises for you here. In our detailed article on Yoga exercises you can find detailed information about asanas for beginners and advanced.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana - downward facing dog
- Tadasana – Mountain Pose
- Balasana – Child Pose
- Shavasana - Dead Pose, relaxation sequence at the end of the yoga class
- Bhujangasana - Cobra
- Virabhadrasana - Warrior
- Surya Namaskara - Sun Salutation, not a single exercise, but the most famous yoga flow
How important is yoga terminology for your yoga class?
Of course, you don't have to memorize all yoga terms before you can take part in a yoga class. You have enough time to gradually learn the terms - you will find that this happens almost automatically over time. And as you have seen, there are also German yoga terms, such as for the individual yoga exercises.