The Yoga Dictionary: A Beginner’s Breakdown of Yoga Vocabulary

Unless you’re fluent in Sanskrit, you likely have no idea what your yoga instructor is saying. Namaste. Om. Chakra. What the?

Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. The only reason experienced yogis know the yoga terms is because they practiced them. So, to help you transition into this powerful practice, here is a breakdown of commonly used yoga terms every beginner should know.


yoga tips, beginner yoga, yoga for beginners, yoga terms, yoga vocabulary, yoga slang, mala beads

7 Yoga Terms for Beginners

Yoga for beginners start with these following terms. 




Originally, the only posture in yoga was meditation, which required sitting for long periods of deep meditation. As such, ‘asana’ which means ‘seat’ in English makes complete sense. However today, asana is the vocabulary term used for any yoga postures and poses.  



Band-ah (like Panda with a B)

Bandha is the Sanskrit word used to describe the body’s internal lock that controls internal energies. There are three bandhas which are taught within Hatha yoga - root lock, throat lock and abdominal lock.




Chakra is a yoga word used to describe the spiritual energies found in your body. It’s believed there’s seven different energies – the root chakra, the sacral chakra, the solar plexus chakra, the heart chakra, the throat chakra, the third eye chakra, and the crown chakra. In order to achieve optimal mindfulness, each chakra needs to be aligned with the others.   As such, you’ll often here yogis say their ‘chakra’ is out of line or that they’re ‘off centered’ when in a bad mood.




Namaste is yet another yoga term every beginner should know because you’ll be hearing plenty of it. ‘Namaste’ is the greeting used to show gratitude and respect. As such, many yoga classes begin and end with this yoga term as your hands are at heart center.




Om is the most important Sanskrit word in the yoga dictionary. It’s a mystical word that’s used at the beginning and ending of Sanskrit mantras to channel energies, intentions, gods, etc. Today, ‘om’ can mean anything. Some believe Om is the universe, others believe Om connects the mind, body, and spirit, and others believe it’s simply a peaceful sound. It can be whatever you need – and want – it to be.  




This yoga term refers to the awareness of your breath and the ability to control your breath for a specific reason or purpose. There are various breathing techniques found in yoga, so you’ll likely here ‘pranayama’ quite often throughout your practice.




Vinyasa is the yoga word used to describe the flowing style of yoga movements that align with your breath. It’s a specific style of yoga, and definitely one worth trying.


And there you have it – the top yoga terms you need to start this powerful practice. So, grab your mala beads, meditate and use ‘om’ your way to mindfulness. 

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