An introduction to some key terms / phrases used in yoga classes….

Starting any new hobby or activity can be tricky, however, it could be said that yoga can make it particularly difficult as the teacher is providing names in English or Sanskrit, asking you to breath and then look at certain points… it’s hardly a surprise that students can feel a bit lost sometimes when there is so much going on.

A few pointers that may help de-mystify yoga. I hope you find it useful.

  • What are we trying to achieve? ‘Chitta Vritti Nirodhah’ or ‘ the restraint of the modifications of the mindstuff is yoga’…..simply put we are trying to calm the mind down to gain a state of stillness or calmness
  • Yoga – is often seen as the combination of breath, body and mind
  • Vinyasa Flow yoga is one of many styles of yoga. Essentially a Vinyasa flow class will be different each time as the teacher changes the area of focus, however the key point is that movement will be coordinated with the breath.
    • Asana – the physical positions or poses we practice whilst doing yoga
    • Pranayama – the action of breathing, focusing on when to inhale / exhale (Prana is the energy that flows through the body). We refer Ujjayi breath in our classes to keep you focused. You aim to make an ocean sound when exhaling through the nose. It’s helpful when doing tougher poses or if the mind is wandering.
    • Drishti (or gaze) is the point of focus when holding a position. It also helps you in harder or balancing poses. Another trick to keep the mind from wandering.
  • Bandhas- these are the ‘locks’ used in positions to enable stability and strength
    • Mula bandha – muscles around the pelvic floor
    • Uddiyana bandha – muscles around the tummy button / the core
    • Jalandhara bandha – the muscles around the throat
  • Sun Salutation A / Sun Salutation B – are two sequences used to warm up at the start of a practice. Engaging the fully body both ‘Sun Sals A or B’ warm the body up in preparation for the rest of the class. Either sequence can (and are) included throughout the class. These sequences can be modified to the student and their physical capabilities. It is important that there is no right or wrong in how to complete a sequence as each position will have modifications to enable the student to participate.
  • Caturanga – part of the Sun Salutation where we lower from plank to mat. This is not a press up and elbows need to stay close to the side body / rib cage. Learning caturanga and it’s many modifications will provide the foundation of your yoga practice.
  • Savasana – (known as the relaxation pose and often looked forward to) the final pose of every yoga class. Possibly the most important pose- in that as students of yoga we are aiming to achieve a point of stillness in the mind and body (meditation). As yoga students we work on asana / pranayama / drishti to help us achieve this. Leaving a yoga class before Savasana unfortunately can mean a student is missing the most important part of yoga!
  • Namaste – term is used to close the class at the end, often with the hands in prayer position raised to meet the forehead. The terms Namaste can be translated as ‘the light in me acknowledges the light in you’. As yoga practitioners we use the term to thank each other for sharing the practice with each other.

I hope you find this introduction to yoga terms useful of interesting…..as always….let me know if you have any questions.

We have recorded a few short videos sharing the Sun Salutations on our youtube site – you may find them useful if you are looking to practice away from the class.

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