Have you ever been to a yoga class where you looked at your yoga teacher, determined that he or she is speaking a foreign language? You are right, we do use Sanskrit: an Indian language used in yoga. There is no need to learn this language from A to Z in order to know what your teacher in class is saying. Understanding the 8 following Sanskrit words will help you during your group practices.
Yoga means union. This word is derived from the Sanskrit word Yug, with signifies union, but it also means to control. This practice that originates from India is meant to harmonize, or to create union between mind, body and spirit.
Controlled breathing. The practice of pranayama can be done at the beginning of practice in a sitting or lying position. Pranayama can also be used when practicing physical postures; synchronizing your breath to your movements.
Asana simply means pose in Sanskrit. Next time you attend class, pay close attention when your teacher says the pose’s name in Sanskrit. You will realize that each name finishes in asana, such as Adho Mukha Savasana, Tadasana, Urdhva Hastasana and so on.
The word vinyasa has two parts: nyasa which signifies to place and vi which signifies in a specific way. Thus, vinyasa yoga consists of series of specific movements that are synchronized with the breath.
Balasana means childs pose. This gentle pose done on the floor is often used as a pose to re-center, to reconnect with the breath. If ever, during your practice, you need a moment to rest, or to reconnect with your breath, balasana is always available to you.
Savasana means corpse pose, but it is better known under the name relaxation pose. Savasana is generally done at the end of class and it consists of lying on your back with both eyes closed. This pose allows the body to rest completely, and allows it to assimilate and reap all the benefits of your practice.
Namasté respectful saluatation and one of the most beautiful words in Sanskrit. Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, namaste literally means “I bow to you”. It is the acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in another. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward the students, and in return the students Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect towards the teacher.
Om̐ comes from the Sanskrit phonemes A, U and M : A represents the beginning, birth. U represents continuation, life. M the end, death. Awakening corresponds to the fourth time: the silence. Om is considered to be the most sacred Mantra (a word or repeated sound) because this syllable would be the sum and substance of the sound of the Universe.