Yoga Origins – Yoga Vocabulary from A-Z

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Yoga is a great way to recharge and renew at the start or end of a day. For beginners, however, yoga can seem mystifying – especially when it involves Sanskrit terms and Vedic phrases. So here is a lite version of the deeply spiritual yet approachable history behind some popular yoga words and phrases.

We’re breaking it down letter-by-letter to create a cheat sheet for appreciating yoga’s roots – because stronger the foundation, higher the structure.

This is going to be just like a beginner yoga session – we’ll start with the fundamentals, and work our way forward. Ready? Begin.

A – Abhaya: Sanskrit word meaning “fearless,” or “without fear.”

B – Belly breath: A beginner breathing exercise, using the lower abdominal area.

C – Chakras: Sacred energy centers throughout the human body.

D – Dhyana: Sanskrit word indicating concentration or meditation.

E – Easy breath: Relaxed, natural breathing pattern using mouth and nose.

F – Flow Yoga: The art of moving smoothly between asanas (poses).

G – Guru: Sacred teacher or spiritual guide.

H – Himsa: Harm or violence; the word “ahimsa” means non-violence.

I – Ishwara Pranidhana: Yoga phrase meaning observance or remembrance.

J – Japa: The repetition or mantras, prayers, or sacred sounds.

K – Kundalini: Energy located at the base of the spine; awakens consciousness.

L – Lila: Sanskrit term meaning “play.”

M – Mandalas: Circles representing spiritual centers of the universe.

N – Namaste: Greeting meaning “the divine in me honors the divine in you.”

O – Om: The sound from which all other sounds originate.

P – Padmasana: “Lotus pose” in which each foot rests on opposite thigh.

Q – Quiet: Yoga can be high-volume or deeply intimate, depending on tradition.

R – Rishi: Seer or venerated master – one who is great or wise.

S – Swadisthana: Energy center (chakra) located behind the abdominal wall.

T – Tantric Yoga: Spiritual practice awakening inner unity or oneness.

U – Upaya: Sanskrit phrase indicating “means” or “way.” Implies skill.

V – Vishuddha: Energy center (chakra) located within the throat.

W – Warrior: This variable yoga pose strengthens resolve and inner spirit.

X – Exercise: In yoga, any exercise, pose or practice is called asana.

Y – Yogi: one who has attained yoga, or union of the two bodies.

Z – Zzzz: A high energy yoga session requires peaceful rest afterwards! 

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