For some, joining a yoga class for the very first time takes a tremendous amount of courage. But if getting to class isn’t the hard part, not being able to understand the different terms and unique language of yoga can make anyone’s first experience not so pleasant.
The following is a study guide to help you recognize and understand common yoga terms frequently used by your yoga teacher.
A drishti is a gazing point, meant to serve as a means to help you focus all of your attention on your practice, versus letting your mind wander toward your grocery list. When your yoga teacher tells you to “Focus on your drishti,” or “Find a drishti,” they mean, pick a spot either on your body, such as your hand or foot, or some external gazing point, such as a spot on the wall in front of you, and stare at it.
The practice of using a drishti is common in yoga, as it not only helps to you keep your balance during challenging poses, it helps keep your mind from wandering during less complex poses.
Your yoga teacher may call out each pose in English, but every once in a while you might hear he or she say, “Exhale, chaturanga.” Translated in English, chaturanga means four-limbed pose. This pose resembles a low pushup position, and is used to segue into upward facing dog pose from plank pose commonly in a vinyasa yoga class.
Perhaps your teacher uses Sanskrit terms throughout class. In any case, you will likely keep hearing the word asana after each long and complex term. Asana simply means seat, and is referred to each pose. For example, you might hear triangle pose called, “Trikonasana,” or, warrior pose called, “Virabhadrasana.” Knowing the word asana will at least enable you to recognize it as a yoga pose.
Maybe by now you’ve made it though your first yoga class unscathed, but at the end of class, your teacher says, “Prepare for Savasana.” Tension returns and anxiety sets in because you have no idea what the heck your teacher means. As you look around, you see people doing nothing. Everyone is just lying comfortably on his or her backs, acting as if there is nothing left to do but rest and relax. Bingo! Savasana is the last and final pose of each yoga class. It is often called by its Sanskrit name because its direct translation of corpse pose doesn’t sound as blissful as the experience of being in the pose.