Posted by: yoga librarian | August 25, 2011

Yoga Terminologies

Yoga Terminology

Reposted from headfirstyoga.com
Friday, May 28, 2010

Most people who are interested in Yoga, sometimes find the terminologies used in describing the poses or the names of the poses confusing. The reason being, most of the words have their origin in Sanskrit, one of the oldest languages. If you do not belong to India and not able to follow the names of the poses, despair not, you are not alone, most people in India will also have difficulty in understanding the meanings.

I’m here to explain: some of the words and terminologies which are commonly used in Yoga. Once you understand the meaning of the words you would related to the pose more easily and would be able to remember the pose by its Sanskrit name. Remember that this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I am trying to include the words which are more commonly encountered.

1. Words used regarding the body parts

Hasta : Hand
Pada : Foot
Urdhava : Upward
Adho : Downward
Mukha : Mouth
Nadi : Nerve(s)
Angushta: Finger or toe
Janu : Knee
Sirsa : Head
Bhuja : Arm
Parsva : Back

2. Words related to Animals

Svan : Dog
Shashanka : Rabbit
Marjara : Cat
Simha : Lion
Mayur : Peacock
Baka : Crane
Kurma : Turtle
Makar : Crocodile
Bheka : Frog
Garuda : Eagle
Ushtra : Camel
Bhujanga : Snake
Sarpa : Snake
Shalbha : Locust
Go : Cow

3. Words related to Objects and Action

Padma : Lotus
Trikon : Triangle
Mala : Garland
Setu : Bridge
Nav : Boat
Salamba : Supported
Niralamba : Unsupported
Prasarita : Stretched or extended
Hala : Plough
Vira : Brave or Warrior
Tada : A type of Palm tree
Parvat : Mountain
Vriksha : Tree
Dhanur : Bow
Surya : Sun
Chandra : Moon
Ardh : Half
Purna : Full
Namaskar : Salutation with palms joined
Pranam : Respectful Salutation

Here is a additional list suggested by various people in comments. Thanks all for your suggestions:

Suggestions by Mike Fabro

Utthita : Extended
Sava : Corpse
Parivṛtta : Revolved
Supta : Supine or Reclining

As you can see from the above list, the poses in yoga are inspired by what is available in nature. Ancient yogis observed the nature closely and adopted the beneficial poses from various sources.

Most of the poses are named by adding the word Asana to the object or animal. For example Halasana means plough pose.

Sometime two or three words are joined together to form the name of the pose. As example look at the following : Adhomukha Svanasa = (Adho + Mukha) (Svana + Asana) => If you look at these word above you can derive like : (Adho + Mukha) (Svana + Asana) =>(Downward + Facing) (Dog + Pose), thus the meaning of this pose is Downward Facing Dog Pose. Now if you look at the pose you can related it with the object or animal it is associated with.

You can try out various combination and discover meaning of the various pose and gain new insight. Next time you hear a new name of a pose, I suggest that you try to break the name into smaller chunks and discover the meaning as well. Once you start doing this you find make your Yoga session even more fun.

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