A Guide to 30 Common Yogic Sanskrit Words

Nicky Sehra
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The ancient language of Sanskrit dates back to 2nd century BCE, India. Sanskrit was considered the language of the Gods. It was the philosophical language of Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism. Sanskrit was used in ancient poetry, drama, and religious/philosophy texts.

So – how is Sanskrit connected to yoga?

During the era that yoga was developing in India, Sanskrit was the common spoken and written dialect. For reference, the Bhagavad Gita and Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras were written during the same time period.
Today, yoga teachers from around the world guide students through poses often still using their Sanskrit names. As yogis, we are connected through and the Sanskrit language no matter what your native language is.
Sanskrit has its own vibration that enhances each pose and creates a sense of euphoria. As your yoga instructor guides you through your yoga class, the Sanskrit name of each posture holds spiritual transcendence and vigor!

Here Are 30 Sanskrit Words Commonly Used in Yoga

Adho: AH-doh, Facing downwards (i.e. Adho Mukha Svanasana is Downward Facing Dog)
Ahimsa: a-HIM-sah, Non-violence; compassion for all living things
Ananda: A-nun-dah, Defined as ecstasy, a state of complete bliss and love
Ardha: AR-dha, Translates to half
Asana: A-sa-na, The physical postures of yoga
Aura: Au-rah, A metaphysical rainbow of light, the body’s external subtle energy field
Bandha: bAhn-da, A body lock in yoga, the combination of muscles that are contracted and focused in order to direct energy flows
Bhakti: bAHk-ti, Love and devotion, from the root word “bhaj” which means “to adore or worship God,” bhakti is love toward the Divine
Chandra: chun-drAh, The moon
Chakra: CHak-rah, Seven energy centers in the body each associated to a specific color, emotion, and earth elements
Dharma: DAR-mah, The teachings of the Buddha, one’s path to truth and enlightenment
Dhyana: dhyA-na Meditation, the seventh limb of Patanjali’s eight-limbed yoga
Drishti: DRish-ti, A focal point to observe while in yoga practice (Read this article to learn more about your drishti)
Dwi-hasta: dva-HAs-ta, Two hands when in a yoga posture

Eka: Eh-kah, One. The word is used in many yoga postures that engage one limb to bend or stretch
Guru: gOO-roo, A spiritual teacher who offers knowledge and guides one to the path of awakening
Ha, Tha: Hah, Tah, Combine to create the word “Hatha.” Ha translates to the Sun, and Tha, Moon. While practicing Hatha yoga, the desire is to balance the sun and moon energy in the body
Hasta: HAs-ta, The hand (or arm)
Japa: jAh-pah, The recitation of mantras or prayers, commonly used in Bhakti Yoga
Karma: kAR-mah, The law of cause and effect, the total effect of one’s actions during their existence on earth. Each action dictates their fate and destiny
Kirtan: kUR-tan, Devotional singing of hymns, mantras, and chanting in a community gathering
Mudra: mOOd-rah, A symbolic hand gesture used in yoga practice to evoke healing
Namaste: nah-MAh-stay, A salutation recited at the beginning or end of a yoga class. One beautiful interpretation: I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells
Pada: pAH-dah, Foot or leg
Pranayama: prAH-nah-yah-mah, The control of energy through breathing and breath work
Surya Namaskar: sUr-ya na-ma-skA-ra, The Sun Salutations, a practice of yoga flow exercises to enhance the light within
Tada: tA-dA, Mountain
Tapas: tA-pAs, Austerity, and is a important aspect of the Yoga Sutra. One must have discipline and focus while practicing yoga
Vedas: vAY-dahs, A term for the oldest Hindu scripture, written in Sanskrit and comprising of four collections ( Rig Veda, Sama Yajur, and Atharva Vedas)
Yoga Sutras: yo-gA sUt-rAs, Ancient Indian texts written in Sanskrit by the sage Patanjali which describes the philosophy and practice of yoga.

There You Have It!

You have now your introduction to Sanskrit and are ready for your next yoga class! Whether your yoga teacher teaches in Sanskrit or not, you will always be connected to the divinity of this sacred practice. Open your heart, channel your God or Goddess energy and expand your consciousness!

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Nicky Sehra

A graduate of History & Corporate Communications and Public Relations in Ontario, Nicky is a wanderlust and modern day spiritual woman who enjoys the simple pleasures of life. Nicky loves to teach yoga, travel, and inspire humanity through her writings. Her aim is to leave everyone she meets with a sparkle of kindness, peace and love.

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