Just some nice introductory Sanskrit vocabulary related to yoga.
This is how I stopped fearing yoga classes and readings. I hope you’ll find it useful too!


  • Adhara: support
  • Adho: downward
  • Aghni: fire
  • Ahimsa: non-violence. One of the five moral restraints of the Yama
  • Ajna: sixth Raja Chakra, positioned in the brain, directly behind the centre of the eyebrows
  • Akasha: ether
  • Anahata: fourth Raja Chakra, located on the heart
  • Anga: a limb, a constituent part of the body
  • Anguli: toes
  • Anjana: mother of Hanuman, a powerful Hindu monkey chief
  • Apana: one of the vital airs. It is warm and flows downwards toward the lower abdomen
  • Aparigraha: non-greediness. One of the moral restraints of the Yama
  • Ardha: half
  • Asana: pose. Third stage or limb of yoga
  • Asta: number 8
  • Asta|nga: the 8 limbs, with reference to the theory of Patanjali
  • Asteya: non-stealing. One of the five moral restraints of the Yama
  • Asura: demon
  • Aum: “all”, conveying the meaning of “Omnipotence”, “Omnipresence”, and “Omniscience”


  • Baddha: bound, restraint
  • Baka: crow
  • Bala: child-like
  • Bandha: an energy lock, a contraction in the body
  • Bhakti: devotion, worship
  • Bharadva: the name of a sage
  • Bheka: frog
  • Bhogavathi: dwelling of the snakes located under the underworld
  • Bhuja: arm, or shoulder. In Buddhism and Hinduism, it is part of the name that refers to a deity with many arms.
  • Bhuja-pida: pressure on the arm or shoulder
  • Bhujanga: cobra
  • Brahmacharya: avoidance of the indulgence of the senses. It is one of the five moral restraints of the Yama


  • Chakra: each of the seven centres of spiritual power in the human body, which are represented by a wheel or circle
  • Chandra: moon
  • Chatur: number 4
  • Chatur|anga: literally, 4 limbs. Also called low plank pose
  • Chitta: it stands for the mind in its totality, comprehensive of three parts: Mind, Reason, and Ego


  • Dakini: witches
  • Danda: staff, or rod
  • Dhanura: bow
  • Dhara: Earth Goddess
  • Dharana: concentration (the sixth stage of yoga for Patanjali)
  • Dharani: magic formula, mantra
  • Dhyana: meditation (the seventh stage of Yoga for Patanjali)
  • Drishti: gaze
  • Dvi: two
  • Dvi|hasta: two hands
  • Dvi|pada: two legs


  • Eka: number 1


  • Garud: eagle
  • Gheranda: the name of the sage author of Gheranda Samitha
  • Go: cow
  • Granthi: knot
  • Guru: spiritual guide. “Gu” means darkness, “ru” stands for light


  • Hasta: hand
  • Hatha: balance between “ha” the sun, and “tha” the moon. Therefore, Hatha Yoga is the practice to achieve the balance of solar and lunar energy flowing in the human body


  • Ishvarapranidhana: precept of acceptance of the existence of an all-knowing principle. It is one of the five rules of the Niyama


  • Jala: water
  • Jalan: network, net
  • Janu: knee
  • Jathara: abdomen
  • Jnana: sacred knowledge derived from meditation, religion, and philosophy meant to make mankind understand their nature


  • Kapota: pigeon
  • Karani: active
  • Karma: action
  • Karna: ear
  • Kasyapa: a legendary sage, father of both gods and demons
  • Kriya: cleansing process
  • Kundalini: an energy represented by a snake that lies coiled at the base of the spine
  • Kurma: tortoise


  • Lingam: penis


  • Maha: great, mighty, noble
  • Mala: garland
  • Mandala: circle
  • Manipura: third Raja Chakra located in the solar plexus, a complex of ganglia and radiating nerves of the sympathetic system at the pit of the stomach
  • Mantra: sacred thought or prayer, repeated
  • Marichi: a sage, son of Brahma
  • Mayura: peacock
  • Matsya: fish
  • Mudra: position creating an energy seal in the body
  • Mukha: face
  • Mula: root
  • Muladhara: first Raja Chakra, also called base chakra


  • Nadi: energy channel in the body
  • Nama: name
  • Namaste: literally, “I bow to the divine in you.” It is used as a greeting of respect and thank you, with spiritual meaning
  • Nava: boat
  • Neti: nose cleasing
  • Nidra: sleep
  • Nirlamba: unsupported
  • Nirodha: restraint
  • Niyama: rule or law. It incorporates discipline in actions and attitude towards ourselves to achieve self-purification. The second of the 8 limbs of yoga for Patanjali


  • Pada: leg or foot
  • Padangustha: big toe
  • Padma: lotus
  • Parigha: bar used to close a gate
  • Paripurna: complete
  • Parivrtta: turned around, revolved
  • Parsva: side
  • Pasa: net, fetter, noose
  • Paschima: West, back part of the body
  • Paschimottana: intense stretch of the back of the body
  • Patanjali: author of the Yoga Sutras and yoga philosopher
  • Pida: pain
  • Pinda: fetus
  • Prajna: intelligence, wisdom
  • Prana: breath. Also cool vital energy flowing upwards.
  • Pranayama: rhythmic control of the breath. It is the fourth stage of yoga
  • Prasarita: stretched out
  • Pratyahara: Withdrawal and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and sensual objects. It is the fifth stage of yoga.
  • Prthivi: the Earth
  • Purva: East, front part of the body
  • Purvottana: intense stretch of the front of the body


  • Raja: king
  • Raja Kapota: king pigeon


  • Salabha: locust
  • Salamba: supported
  • Sama: equal
  • Samadhi: feeling of supreme joy and peace. It is the eighth and highest stage of yoga
  • Samana: hot vital energy
  • San: number 6
  • Santosha: precept of contentment to appreciate what we have. It is one of the five rules of Niyama
  • Sapta Dhatu: seven vital minerals for the human body
  • Sarva: whole
  • Sarva|nga: whole body
  • Sasanka: rabbit
  • Satya: life lived with honesty in behaviour with thought and intention. It is one of the five moral restraints of the Yama
  • Saucha: precept of purity and cleanliness, also in thinking. It is one of the five rules of the Niyama
  • Sava: corpse
  • Setu: bridge
  • Shraddha: faith
  • Siddha: a sage, prophet. Also a semi-divine being of great purity
  • Sirsa: head
  • Sodhana: purification
  • Soma: aphrodisiac beverage allowed to be drink only by gods, as the only ones able to control its effects
  • Sukha: happiness, joy, pleasure
  • Supta: reclined
  • Surya: sun
  • Sushumna: central axis of our body. It is associated with the spine
  • Svadhisthana: second Raja chakra located in the sacral region
  • Svana: dog
  • Swadhyaya: precept of self-study leading to self-discovery. It encompasses self-reflection and continued learning. It is one of the five rules of the Niyama
  • Swami: Hinduist monk


  • Tada: mountain
  • Tan: to stretch, lengthen out
  • Tapas: precept inviting to develop a strong resolve and a burning enthusiasm for our practice and life’s work. It is one of the five rules of the Niyama
  • Tittibha: firefly
  • Tola: balance
  • Trataka: to look or gaze
  • Tri: number 3
  • Trikona: triangle


  • Ud: to fly
  • Ujjayi: a type of pranayama with lungs fully expanded and chest puffed out
  • Upavista: seated
  • Urdhva: raised, upward
  • Ustra: camel
  • Ut: intense
  • Utkata: powerful
  • Uttana: intense stretch
  • Utthita: extended


  • Vasistha: a legendary sage
  • Vajra: thunderbolt, one of the weapons of Indra
  • Vata: aria
  • Viloma: against the order of things
  • Viparita: inversion, reversed
  • Vira: hero, guardian
  • Virahadra: name of a great warrior create out of Shiva’s matted hair
  • Vishuddha: firth Raja Chakra, positioned on the throat
  • Vritta: fluctuation
  • Vritti: state of being
  • Vrksa: tree
  • Vyana: oily vital energy which allows the movements of our limbs


  • Yama: the god of death. Also the first of the eight limbs or means of attaining yoga. Yamas are universal moral commandments transcending creeds, countries, age and time
  • Yana: upward
  • Yoga: union, communion
  • Yoga mudra: posture
  • Yoga-sutras: classical work on yoga by the sage Patanjali
  • Yogi(ni): person practising yoga

Note: Many definitions in this glossary come from the books Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar, and The Classic Yoga Bible by Christina Brown.

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