Teacher Talk 101
Namaste Yogis and welcome to Yoga Teacher Talk 101
So when you say Eka Pada Rajakapotasana you mean….?
We’ve all been in class and wondered what in the heck was just cued by the instructor. If you’re new to yoga it can be very intimidating and confusing, and even us seasoned practitioners are stumped from time to time (or we know what they’re referring to but not exactly what the word means). So these are the basics. Most teachers will instruct with both English and in Sanskrit, but it’s still nice to learn the translations! So here it is folks! Commonly used Yoga Speak, if you will, translated for your understanding.
What language is this anyways?
Sanskrit is said to be one of the oldest languages on Earth. Yoga and the Sanskrit language are both said to have originated in India, thus the two things are paired together. Teachers continue to use the Sanskrit translation of pose names to keep the culture of yoga while honoring the history and tradition.
Om (Actually three syllables: “Ahhhh, oooooh, mmmmm”)
Om is complicated to define. It can mean different things to different people and each definition can mean something different to each person. Om has been said to be ‘The sound of the universe.’ It can mean the past, the present, the future, all that is, all that was, all that will be. It’s been said that it is the one sound or vibration that every living thing projects so chanting it is a reminder that we are all connected and we are all the same. Humming this calming and peaceful vibration can also physically calm the nervous system. It traditionally begins a yoga practice and closes as well.
Yoga classes are closed with Namaste which is loosely translated as ‘I bow to you.’ It is a symbol and gesture of thanks, acknowledgement (I see you), and honor. It is a deep form of respect for those around you.
Sun Salutation or Suyra Namaskar
This is a flow/sequence of postures traditionally done at the start of class to warm up the body and build heat before diving into deeper poses.
The eight basic postures, in order of performance, are:
- Tadasana (Mountain)
- Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute)
- Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
- Plank Pose
- Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff)
- Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
Breath synchronized movement. Usually involves flowing between postures with your inhalations and exhalations.
This is short for ‘Chaturanga Dandasana’ and usually comes between a Plank Pose and an Upward Facing Dog. In a sense, it’s a low push-up. From your hands and toes (or lower to your knees), slowly bend your elbows INTO your body instead of outward as in traditional push-ups. Your elbows create a shelf and can actually touch your ribs. This pose can be held while hovering above the ground and is excellent to build triceps, biceps, and pectoral muscles.
Asana translates as ‘pose’ or ‘posture’ and more literally, ‘comfortable seat.’ Most postures end in ‘asana.’
Ujjayi Pranayama (breath)
This translates as a victorious breath and sounds like a soft hissing in the back of your throat. This helps focus your mind and steady your breath.
Last but not least… Savasana
Corpse pose is the final posture of yoga classes and is said to be the most important part of your practice. There’s so much to say about this posture that it can (and will, I’m sure) be it’s own blog topic. It relieves stress, relaxes the body while calming the brain, lowers your blood pressure, and allows your body and mind to assimilate all previously done postures.
Yoga Teacher Talk 102 soon to come!
Health & lots of love,