As a newcomer to yoga, you will be confronted with many terms that you may be unfamiliar with. 

Pranayama, Mudra & Shavasana — and you only understand train station? 

Then, our little glossary of terms is just the thing to help you find your way around the spiritual world.

asana, mudra, shavana, yoga terms

You can of course, practice yoga without knowing the specialist vocabulary. 

Nevertheless, you will get closer to the matter layer by layer if you know the meaning of frequently used words and can classify them accordingly. 

However, we have summarized the most important words for you. 

Therefore, you can start the journey into your inner being with joyful and knowing:

Sanskrit — The Sacred Yoga Language

Sanskrit is one of the oldest languages ​​in the world and has its origins in northern India. It is also known as the “sacred language”. 

You will often come across Sanskrit words in your yoga practice — whether when describing individual yoga exercises, when reciting mantras and also here in this little guide!

Asanas — Postures

asana, mudra, shavana, yoga terms

The Sanskrit word “asana” describes different postures that are an essential part of Hatha Yoga . 

In the Sanskrit term the warrior is called “Virabhadrasana”, the cobra “Bhujangasana” or the position of the child “Balasana”. 

If the individual asanas are practiced fluently one after the other, one speaks of a “flow”. 

The most famous flow is “ Surya Namaskar “, or so-called the sun salutation.

Affirmations — Positive Thoughts

Affirmations are clear, positive sentences formulated in the present, which are repeated orally or written down. 

This technique is used to replace stuck, mostly negative spirals of thought with life-affirming formulations. 

This is to positively influence the subconscious. Example of an affirmation: “I face every situation with calm and serenity.”

Mantras — Healing Syllables

This Sanskrit word describes syllables that are anchored in the consciousness through repetitive recitation. 

Mantras work less on the level of the mind, but on the level of sound, vibration and rhythm. 

The universal mantra that many yoga teachers use to start and end their lessons is called “Om”. Examples of other mantras are:

  • Sat-Chit-Ananda — Being, Consciousness, Bliss
  • So ham — that’s me. That is me.
  • Sa Ta Na Ma — birth, life, death and rebirth

Pranayama — Conscious Breathing

Pranayama is breathing techniques that serve the conscious merging of body and mind understands. 

“Prana” describes the breath as well as the cosmic energy in the universe. Known breathing techniques are:

  • Nadi Shodana : alternating breathing, alternating breathing through 1 nostril
  • Kapalabhati : clarifying breathing exercise with the focus on strong exhalation.

Mudra — Gesture Symbolic

asana, mudra, shavana, yoga terms

The Sanskrit word “mudra” means seal. What is meant is a symbolic hand gesture that is used in connection with yoga exercises or during meditation. 

One of the most famous mudras is the greeting gesture “Namasté”, in which the hands are gently put together in front of the chest. 

The translation of this gesture is: “The divine in me bows before the divine in you.”

Chakras — Powerful Energy Centers

The Sanskrit word chakra literally means something like wheel, disc or circle. 

The knowledge of the chakras is thousands of years old and has its origin in the Vedic scriptures. 

These are invisible, subtle energy centers. Each chakra embodies a stage of consciousness. 

The 7 main chakras are arranged along the spine:

  • Muladhara — root chakra
  • Svadhisthana — Sakralchakra
  • Manipura — Solarplexus
  • Anahata — heart chakra
  • Vishuddha — throat chakra
  • Ajna Chakra — the third eye
  • Sahasrara Chakra — Kronenchakra

Shavasana — The Mortuary Position

asana, mudra, shavana, yoga terms

In this resting position, it is important to let go of all tension in body and mind. 

The asana, also known as the “death pose”, is performed lying on your back and with your eyes closed. 

Shavasana symbolizes the end of the life cycle that we symbolically go through in every classic yoga class from birth to death.


Do you see a little better now? We are convinced: With these terms you are well prepared for the next yoga class! Remember: There is no shame in not knowing all Sanskrit terms, Indian deities, or ancient scriptures. After all, nobody knows everything!

For more information, take a look at our detailed, linked topic posts. Feel free to ask if you come across something that interests you and is unknown to you. Your yoga teacher will be happy to help you. In this way you will expand your knowledge bit by bit and your personal yoga trip will always be exciting.

Leave a Reply