Glossary of 60 Yoga Terms: Yogi Need To Know About

Glossary of 60 Yoga Terms: Yogi Need To Know About

Most people find the terms used in meditation and yoga to be utterly bewildering. They find it difficult to go through the yoga exercises because they fail to grasp the commonly used words.

The following are a stock of yoga terms, their definitions, and their meanings. Most of them are of Sanskrit origin, but they are not as difficult to remember as they appear.

Glossary of Yoga Terms:

After going through these, you will have basic knowledge about the world of yoga.

  1. Ardha

Half. Visit Ardha Chandrasan, Ardha Navasana, Ardha Padmasana, Ardha Uttanasana.

  1. Asana

Yoga posture, pose, position; seat.

  1. Ashtanga:

Eight-fold yogic path: yoga to build stamina, flexibility, and strength. Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.

  1. Ayurveda

The ancient science of health in India.

  1. Bandha

A yogic posture contracting the muscles and organs to build energy; used for controlling energy. The three Bandhas who taught Inhatha Yoga are Root Lock (Mulbandha), Abdominal Lock(Uddiyana Bandha), and Throat Lock (Jalandhara Bandha).

  1. Bhakti

Devotion (Bhakti Yoga is the yoga of devotion, and Bhakta is a devotee).

  1. Brahmacharya

Purity, celibacy, non-lust.

  1. Buddha

Awakened, or Enlightened one; “The Buddha” is the reference to Siddhartha Gautama, a sacred preacher who gained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree.

  1. Buddhist Yoga

A form of yoga which focuses completely on mental abilities to see beyond distractions.

  1. Chakra

Literally, it means “wheels”; In yoga, it refers to the energy center; The ‘life force’ system has seven chakras starting from the head to the spine (root, sacral, navel, heart, third eye, throat, and crown). Each of these is connected with a color, syllable, element, significance, etc.

  1. Dharana

Concentration. It is the sixth of the eight-fold path.

  1. Dharma

Duty, truth, righteous path; It also refers to the teachings of the Buddha; the path of truth.

  1. Dhyana

Meditation, single pointed focus on a thought, sound or form.

  1. Dosha

Refers to the three humors of the body; There are three doshas in Ayurveda: Pitta (fire), Vata (wind), and Kapha (earth).

  1. Drishti

Eyesight or gazing point used during an asana pose.

  1. Ekagra

Focus and “one-pointed” concentration and awareness.

  1. Ganesha

The Hindu elephant-headed God; he is the offspring of Shiva and Parvati and remover of all obstacles.

  1. Guru

Teacher/spiritual mentor; one who brings us from darkness into light.

  1. Hatha Yoga

It means forceful or willful; Hatha yoga is a form of yoga which purifies the entire physical body using concentration, Shatkarma, Asana, Pranayam, Mudra, and Bandha.

  1. Jnana yoga

Refers to yoga of wisdom and enlightenment which gives release from bondage. It liberates you from the illusionary world of thoughts and helps you unite with your inner self.

  1. Kapal

Refers to the cerebrum or skull Kapalbharti Yoga is a breathing technique done through rapid breaths. It is aimed at clearing the frontal part of the brain.

  1. Karma

The act of doing—action; the law of karma states that you will reap what you sow; Karma is based on the complex individuals and their relationships in the universe.

  1. Karuna

Love and compassion towards fellow beings.

  1. Kirtan

A community is gathering which involves devotional chanting, religious music, and meditation.

  1. Kosha

Refers to the body; it is a realm of experience and existence.

  1. Krishna

A Hindu God; He is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu; part of the Bhagavad Gita.

  1. Kriya

Activity or practice. The Kriya Yoga system consists of various levels of Pranayams, Mudras, and Mantras.

  1. Kula


  1. Kundalini

In yogic culture, Kundalini is symbolized by a snake—the energy not yet manifested within you. The very nature of Kundalini is such that when it is dormant, you are unaware of its existence.

  1. Mantra

It is a repeated sound, word, syllable, or phrase like a chant; often used in yoga and meditation to expand one’s awareness and concentration.

  1. Mudra

Literally, means gesture; used to channel cosmic energy into the body and mind. Commonly known mudras are Anjali Mudra (press the palms together at the heart), Surya Mudra (press the thumb to tip of the ring finger), Gyana Mudra (push the thumb to tip of the index finger), Shoonya Mudra (push the thumb to the tip of the middle finger), Varun Mudra (press the thumb to the tip of the little finger).

  1. Namaste

Standard form of greeting in India; it means “I bow before you”; It is used at the beginning and end of a yoga class and is most roughly translated as “the light inside me, bows before the light inside you”; a salutation said with the hands in Anjali Mudra.

  1. Niyama

Refers to rules for personal discipline. There are a total of 5 niyama that make up the moral and ethical foundation of yoga. They include Sauch (cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapa (austerity), Svadhyaya (self-study and study of literature), and Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender to the spiritual world).

  1. Om

It is a universal mantra; the original syllable chanted as “A-U-M”; it represents the cosmic vibration of the universe and the four states of consciousness.

  1. Pada

Means foot; it also refers to the chapters of yoga-sutra.

  1. Padmasana

It is the Lotus Pose – a seated meditative posture where you sit straight in a cross-legged position with the opposite leg on each thigh.

  1. Pancha Makara

The five tantric practices involving: Mansa (meat); Matsya (fish); Madhya (drink), Mudra (gold), and Maithuna (intercourse).

  1. Prana

Vital life energy force is sustaining all life and creation. It is also referred to as “chi” and “qi” in Pilates.

  1. Pranayama

Breath control; breathing exercises in yoga that regulate the flow of energy within the body. It is the fourth stage in Ashtanga yoga. You need to control inhalation, exhalation, and retention of breath to achieve pranayama states.

  1. Pratyahara

It is the first stage of concentration of the mind; a withdrawal of the senses before meditation.

  1. Patanjali

The writer of the Yoga-sutras. He preached eight-fold yoga to the world.

  1. Raja Yoga

A form of yoga in which union can be attained through concentration of the mind.

  1. Sadhana

Spiritual practice or quest.

  1. Samadhi

It is the final condition of total meditation, enlightenment, and self-actualization. It is the eighth of the stages of yoga.

  1. Savasana

Final relaxation pose. It is commonly performed at the end of each hatha yoga class.

  1. Shakti

Female energy; represents vital life force.

  1. Shanti

Peace, tranquility, and bliss. This word is often found in mantras.

  1. Shatkarmas

They refer to the six yogic techniques to purify and cleanse the body. The shatkarmas include Dhauti (digestive tract cleaning), Bhashti (cleaning of the colon), Neti (nasal cleansing), Tratka (cleansing of eyes), Kapalabhati and Nauli (abdominal massage).

  1. Shiva

A cosmic form of male energy; a Hindu deity. Yoga is said to have originated from Shiva. He is the Adi Guru or the first Guru.

  1. Soham

Refers to a mantra in meditation which means “I am That.” “So” is said during inhalation, and “ham” is said during exhalation.

  1. Surya Namaskar

The salutation of the sun; Surya Namaskar is a system of yoga exercises performed in the early morning on an empty stomach.

  1. Sutras

Ancient classical texts which provide wisdom.

  1. Tamas

The quality of laziness or inertia.

  1. Tantra

The yoga dedicated to the union.

  1. Vedas

They are the four ancient Hindu scriptures—Rig, Sama, Yajur, Atharva, which are further divided into Samhita, Aranayaka, Brahmana, and Upanishads. They were revealed to the yogis in ancient India to explain each aspect of life from cosmic reality to worldly affairs.

  1. Vinyasa

A form of yoga in which the movements are tied together. In vinyasa, the flow of the body is coordinated with the breath.

  1. Yama

There are five yamas which make up the social and universal virtues of yoga; they include Satya (truth; establishing, accepting, and practicing reality), Ahimsa (nonviolence), Asteya (living justly, not stealing), Brahmacharya (self-control and celibacy) and Aparigraha (not being greedy).

  1. Yoga

Practice for the union of body and mind. It is a spiritual discipline involving breath control and body postures (asanas). People practice it for health and relaxation.

  1. Yoga Nidra

Yogic sleep, or deep relaxation technique, in which the body and mind are at complete rest, yet fully aware.

  1. Yogi/Yogini

A male or female individual who practices yoga and meditation.

Final Remarks

These are some of the common words that you will come across during Yoga. They will help you get started on the path of meditation.

Going over them, we hope you see they are not as mysterious, nor as intimidating as they seem.

Knowing them, you will learn to fall in love with meditation and yoga and pave your way to a healthier body and mind.

Moving forwards, you will discover other complex variations of these words (which have not been included in this list for the sake of clarity!)

We hope that this glossary of 60 yoga terms has been helpful to you and will guide you in the practice of yoga!

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