No New Notifications
close
UP TO 75% OFF
GROUPON GUIDE TO WASHINGTON-DC

Asana? Ujjayi? All the Yoga Terms You Should Know Before Your First Class

BY: Editors | Jan 30, 2019

Yoga class flowing into an upward-facing dog pose

We understand how intimidating it can be to take a yoga class. What if everyone is a former gymnast/dancer (or worse, a current gymnast/dancer)? What if you get lost because you don’t know the moves? What if it’s just really hot?

We’ve taken plenty of yoga classes in our time and can reassure you that it truly is easy to just jump into a beginner’s class. But to help put you at ease a little more, we created this quick glossary to common yoga terms. Chances are, you won’t even hear most of these yoga words, but if you do, you’ll be prepared.

Basic Yoga Terms

Asana

Traditionally, asana is defined as a “comfortable seat” in Sanskrit but when you hear it nowadays in modern yoga classes, asana generally refers to yoga poses. For instance, downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana in Sanskrit) is a key asana in many different types of yoga.

Namaste

There’s a reason that this word has become almost a cliche when it comes to health and wellness. Yoga instructors will ALWAYS say it at the end of class as a calm, respectful way to conclude the day’s practice and say goodbye to students. Students say it back, and the class ends. Press your palms together and bow your head while saying it.  

Pranayama

This refers to the practice of controlling your breath. Often in yoga, you’ll be told to breathe in slowly and deeply, inflating your stomach while you inhale. It helps promote mindfulness.

Ujjayi Breath

Ujjayi breath (ujjayi pranayama) is a breathing technique known as ocean breath, probably for the sound that it makes. To do it, breathe in and out deeply through your nose with your mouth closed. While you exhale, pretend like you have a mirror in front of your closed mouth that you’re trying to fog up.

The diaphragm pushes air from the nose with a powerful, controlled rush—if you do it correctly you’ll make a whispering sound, like the ocean, in the back of your throat. These breaths help physically warm up the body and serve as a rhythm section to accompany the changing poses.

Drishti

This is a soft, focused gazed meant to help you concentrate and focus on the intentions you set for your practice. You may hear your instructor tell you to find your drishti while you’re in a specific pose.

Yoga class resting in child's pose

Basic Yoga Poses

Chaturanga

Chaturanga Dandasana, simply called chaturanga, is a common movement in Vinyasa, CorePower Yoga, and Ashtanga yoga. It begins with your body in a high plank position. Next, you bend your elbows and slowly lower yourself toward the ground and into a low plank. From there, you’ll drop your body all the way down onto the mat. If you’re doing a sun salutation, you’ll press your body into an upward-facing dog.  

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-facing dog, often shortened to “down dog,” resembles a dog’s playful bow. To do it, plant your hands and feet flat on the ground while sticking your butt into the air. Your body will look like an inverted V.

Upward-Facing Dog

So what’s up dog? (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) Up dog happens when you lift your chest to the sky while lying on your stomach and extending your elbows.

Sun Salutation

The sun salutation is sequence of poses fundamental to vinyasa yoga. Practitioners start and end standing, flowing through a chaturanga in one fluid motion. Variations on the sun salutation all serve as a warm-up exercise.

Child’s Pose

This is a resting pose that helps stretch out your back while relaxing your muscles and centering you during your practice. People often go into child’s pose if they need to take a break during yoga class.

To do it, sit with your legs tucked under you and your knees spread apart. Slowly bring your upper body toward the mat and touch your head to the mat. Your arms can either be extended in front of you or tucked behind you.

Savasana

This name is so much nicer than its English counterpart: corpse pose. Despite its name, this is one of the nicest poses that exists in yoga because it just requires you to lie still on your back with your arms slightly extended out and your palms up. It’s typically used at the end of a class to help wind you down after your workout.

Yoga mats, blocks, and straps

Yoga Gear

Blocks, Bolsters, and Straps

These are props that help support, cushion, and stretch the body during yoga. They’re often used by people with body aches and limited mobility or flexibility. However, they can also be used by people who need a little extra help executing a difficult pose. For instance, if you’re attempting to do the splits, you can use two yoga blocks as an extension of your arms while you lower your body closer and closer to the ground.

Yoga Socks

These are special grippy socks designed to prevent slipping and sliding during a warm yoga class. They’re also ideal for anyone with sweaty feet or anyone who doesn’t want to go barefoot in class.

Eye Pillow

Eye pillows are commonly used in restorative yoga classes. They’re filled with things like flaxseed and buckwheat hulls and add a pleasant weight when draped on tired, closed eyes.

 

RELATED READS:


The 10 Types of Yoga, ExplainedThe 10 Types of Yoga, Explained

If you're new to yoga, the staggering number of choices out there—from the studio to the teacher to the style—can be intimidating.
Woman doing yogaWhat to Wear Under Yoga Pants, According to Yoga People

More than 400 people responded to our question, and their answers surprised us.
A Guide to Yoga for BeginnersA Guide to Yoga for Beginners

At the start, yoga can be a bit baffling, with its many options, customs, and specialized etiquette about talking during a class.
My First Time Trying Hot Yoga (or Any Yoga, Period)My First Time Trying Hot Yoga (or Any Yoga, Period)

Even though I anticipated it, the heat of hot yoga was startling. This class was gonna be interesting.
BY: Editors

Yoga Classes Near You

$29.25 for One Month of Unlimited 75-Minute Online Yoga Classes at Shiva Shanti Yoga School ($50 Value)
41% Off Online Yoga Classes at Shiva Shanti Yoga School
online_deal
4.8
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-half icon
482 Ratings
$50.00 $39.00$29.25
 Sale Ends 5/10
One Month of Unlimited 75-Minute Online Yoga Classes
$10 for an Online Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple Course from SkillSuccess eLearning ($199 Value)
94% Off Online Meditation Course
online_deal
4.1
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-half icon
9,436 Ratings
$199.00 $10.00
94% discount_off
Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple Online Course
Five, Ten or Month Unlimited DYC Online Yoga Classes at Dharma Yoga Center ( UpTo 85% Off)
85% Off Online Yoga Classes from Dharma Yoga Center
46 West 24th Street, New York
4.8
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-half icon
792 Ratings
$80.00 $15.00$12.00
 Sale Ends 5/10
Online Sessions: DYC Five Online Yoga Classes
$18 for 30-Class Yoga and Fitness Pass from Yoga & Fitness Passport  ($300 Value)
94% Off 30-Class Yoga and Fitness Pass
online_deal
3.6
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-half icon
icon-blank icon
459 Ratings
$300.00 $20.50$18.00
 Sale Ends 5/10
30 yoga and fitness classes
One, Five, or Ten Private Mobile Yoga Sessions from Stamaste (Up to 76% Off)
Up to 76% Off Mobile Yoga Sessions from Stamaste
online_deal
$65.00 $19.00$17.00
 Sale Ends 5/10
One Private Mobile Yoga Session
1 bought
Five or 15 Yoga Sessions at Pretty Fit FItness (Up to 83% Off)
Up to 83% Off Yoga Sessions
2443 Crain Highway, Waldorf 41.9 mi
5.0
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
1 Ratings
$100.00 $44.50$40.00
 Sale Ends 5/10
Five Yoga Sessions
Up to 60% Off on Yoga Class at Vida Yoga Studios
Up to 60% Off on Yoga Class at Vida Yoga Studios
online_deal
$45.00 $23.00$18.40
 Sale Ends 5/10
5 Virtual Yoga Classes
1 bought
Up to 57% Off on Yoga - Prenatal at Beautiful Creations Birth Services
Up to 57% Off on Yoga - Prenatal at Beautiful Creations Birth Services
online_deal
$75.00 $45.00$42.00
 Sale Ends 5/10
Three Prenatal or Postnatal Fitness Classes
1 bought
Online Classes for One or Two Months from Uptown Yoga (Up to 66% Off)
Up to66% Off Online+Live Streaming Classes for One or 2 Months
online_deal
4.9
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-full icon
icon-half icon
2,151 Ratings
$50.00 $25.00$18.75
 Sale Ends 5/10
Online and LIVE Streaming Yoga Classes for One Month