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10 Words to Know So You’re Not So Confused in Yoga Class

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What did your yoga teacher just say? Yoga instructors love to use Sanskrit and other “yogi lingo” in practice. And while it is a wonderful way to introduce you to yoga’s origins, it can also break your flow as you distractedly ponder what in the world a “bandha” is.

But don’t let the foreign words stop you from going to class. Here are the most commonly used yoga terms to know so you can stand in Tadasana without losing your dristi (focus).

1. Pranayama

Pronounced: praw-nah-yah-mah

Translation: controlled breathing

Origin: Let’s break it down: Prana refers to the breath, and yama means to control or hold something. Put those two together and you get controlled breath. But there’s a deeper significance to practicing pranayama.

Ancient yogis used the breathing techniques to absorb and manipulate their energy. According to the book “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha,” the breathing techniques should not only be used to introduce more oxygen into the lungs, but to capture outside sources of vital energy, or life force.

What to expect in class?

Don’t feel intimidated by this term. If you’re taking a beginner or all-levels yoga class in the Western world, the teacher will most likely reference this term to help you learn how to breathe as you flow. The teacher may instruct a certain pranayama technique. For example, “ujjayi:” breathing in and out through your nose — like you’re making the sound of the ocean waves. This technique synchronizes your breath with the movement to harmonize your practice.

Bandhas can (and should) be held through nearly every yoga pose.

Bandhas can (and should) be held through nearly every yoga pose. Photo Credit Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

 

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