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Is It Greek? No, It’s Sanskrit! 10 Need-To-Know Sanskrit Words

top ten sanskrit yoga terms

If you walk into a yoga class and feel lost as others nod their heads, then you will love these 10 need-to-know Sanskrit words.

These aren’t the name of the poses. That would be another longer post. But those are easier to learn as you go. You see the instructor and your class mates move into the pose – whatever it is called – and over time you learn the Sanskrit names of the poses.

What gets tricky is the Sanskrit in between the poses, the conversations before and after class, or when your instructor gets all philosophical on you. That’s when these 10 need-to-know Sanaskrit Yoga terms will come in handy!

You will no longer feel intimidated or left out of the conversation with these 10 Sanskrit Yoga terms under your belt.

1. Namaste

The higher-self or divine within me salutes the higher-self or divine within you.

This is typically used as a salutation, either as a greeting or when saying goodbye. Usually the palms are placed together in a prayer like position when spoken.

2. Satsang

A gathering of like-minded people for spiritual encouragement, inspiration, and support.

This is an often over-looked but beneficial part of yoga. Finding a community of people working for their own highest potential and supporting one another along the way that you resonate with is vital to swift progress.

If you are looking for a wonderful online yoga community, you may be interested in checking out Zenward. Here is a short, introduction video to give you a taste of Zenward:

3. Samadhi

Ultimate yogic goal attained through one-pointed absorption in meditation.

This term is also used to describe a sublime, or wonderful state of mind or experience, ultimate bliss or Nirvana.

4. Asana

Any yoga posture or position.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra’s it refers to posture. Having right posture is necessary on the path of yoga.

5. Hatha

Traditional yoga posture practices.

All styles of yoga that include yoga postures whether in a sequence or holding them one at a time is hatha yoga. If a style is referred to as hatha yoga, that means it is a basic classical style without another name or style attached to it.

6. Pranayama

Breathing exercises.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras it means breath control. Through breathing exercise you can learn to control your breath. Being able to control your breath has numerous health and spiritual benefits.

top terms in sanskrit yoga

7. Yama

Literally translates as control.

Generally it refers to one of the 5 Yamas in the Yoga Sutras: Non-violence, non-lying, non-stealing, sexual restraint, non-greed.

Probably the best known one is ahimsa, non-violence.

8. Niyama

Literally translates as non-control.

Generally refers to one of the 5 Niyamas in the Yoga Sutras: purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, devotion.

Santosa, contentment, is one of the better well-known niyamas.

9. Chakra

Energy center.

Whereas there are different systems which describe various numbers of chakras, there are 7 that are commonly referred to in yoga. They are located  just in front of the spinal column. They roughly correspond to the spinal or nerve plexuses. Each one represents a myriad of physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and philosophical attributes and states of being.

10. Kundalini

Latent, primal energy related to the chakras.

Symbolically, this energy is described as a coiled serpent at the base of the spine. When this subtle energy is “awakened” it rises up through all of the chakras, to the brain. The movement of energy is the result of deep states of meditation and associated with enlightened states of bliss. Some styles of yoga will use additional practices like breathing, asanas, and chanting to attempt to awaken this energy.


Do you have any Sanskrit yoga terms that you would like defined? Just ask in the comments below. What are your favorite Sanskrit yoga terms? Please share!

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