Sanskrit is a universal language. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the root word of Sanskrit ‘Yuj,’ which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite.’ The ancient yogic scriptures inscribed in the Sanskrit language focus on balancing the mind, body, and spirit.
Learning to use Sanskrit words while performing yoga is the perfect way to communicate through sensation and sound. The purpose is to experience both the universality and uniqueness of each pose or meditation technique you perform.
Knowing the Sanskrit language and connecting it to your yoga practice will root you in the tradition, an essential step to seek mind, body, and spiritual connection. If you’re just getting started, here are 10 Sanskrit words every beginner yogi should know!
‘Avidya’ means the root cause of human suffering, and it is something that focuses on ordinary ignorance. In the yogic sense, Avidya refers to understanding the fundamental blindness about reality. However, it does not mean a lack of information, but the incapacity and powerlessness to experience your deepest connection to your true self and others.
A ‘Guru’ in the Sanskrit language means a teacher or instructor. In yoga, it refers to a spiritual teacher who shares knowledge, revelations, and insights about the philosophy. A guru is a person who teaches you how to perform yoga through different techniques and methods.
A guru is not an ordinary teacher, but a skillful individual with all the wisdom and knowledge of yoga.
‘Asana’ is a Sanskrit word, which means sitting down, sitting pose, or a meditation seat. It has been in use in the English language for more than 100 years. Yogis perform asanas to improve balance, strength, and flexibility, which can relieve stress and anxiety through focus, concentration, and breathing awareness.
Another Sanskrit word that you, as a beginner yogi, should know is ‘Hatha.’ It is the combination of two individual words, ‘Ha,’ which means ‘sun’ and ‘Tha,’ which means ‘moon.’ Experienced yogis and gurus say that Hatha balances the masculinity and femininity of one’s mind and body. For example, the sun refers to activity and vigor, and the moon indicates your receptive and calm nature.
‘Cakra,’ or chakra in English, is pronounced as “cha-kra,” which means wheel or circle, and refers to your body’s energy points. Cakra focuses on your body’s spinning disks of energy that should remain open, balanced, and aligned with the major organs, nerves, and other energy areas of the body that affect your physical health and emotional wellbeing.
The word ‘Mantra’ combines two Sanskrit words: Manas and Tra, which means mind and tool, respectively. A beginner yogi should understand the meaning of this word as “a tool for the mind.” Mantras help yogis set intentions for their practice and focus. Adding a mantra to your meditation and practice is an effective way to find stillness by slowing down your mind’s chatter. The purpose is to bring more clarity to your head, increase focus, and manifest desires.
‘Mudra’ in the Sanskrit language means “mark,” “seal,” or “gesture. It is a ritual pose or symbolic gesture performed through your fingers, hands, or the entire body. Mudras create a connection between your body and brain to bring mental clarity, stimulate brain chemicals, enhance mood, and boost vitality. It is an essential part of various Buddhist and Hindu rituals, including dance, meditation, and yoga.
In the yogic philosophy, the word ‘Prana’ means breath force that translates into physical function regulation, including oxygen supply, digestion, and release of negative energy from the body. Prana, in other words, means receiving power, distributing it, and eliminating it from the body.
‘Samadhi’ means complete self-connectedness and refers to achieving the highest level of mental focus and concentration to unite your mind and body with the highest reality. Samadhi is a state of heightened consciousness, awareness, supreme bliss, and enlightenment.
‘Bhakti’ is a Sanskrit word that means attachment, devotion, or to surrender oneself to God wholeheartedly. Bhakti is an essential part of yoga that requires a practitioner to achieve higher consciousness levels through devotion to prayer, ritual, and chanting. The primary aim of bhakti is to nurture the feelings of unconditional love, commitment, and purity.
All original yoga scriptures, including Pantanal’s Yoga Sutras, were inscribed in the ancient Sanskrit language. Because of Sanskrit’s spiritual sound quality, yogis use certain words to find a deeper connection and to soothe their mind and body. The words mentioned above are a must for beginner yogis who want to bring fluidity and vibration harmonies to their yoga practice.