TWIST Tips: OM Shanti … whaaaaat? 15 Common Yoga Terms DECODED


If you are like me, you may have heard some of the yoga words and terms for months and even years without really understanding what they mean. By that point, it feels silly to ask. You may take some time to research them online or in books but, it is hard to remember after you leave class, and “real life” resumes.

But, the real magical power of yoga begins when you are able to take what you experience in the studio and on the mat into your every day life. As you begin to scratch the surface of yoga beyond the physical practice, you will certainly come across many other terms and ideas that you want to learn more about. At Twist Yoga, there are no such things as stupid questions. We are here to guide you, and would be honored to chat more about our passion.

Below are just a handful of some of the most common yoga words: DECODED:

  1. Ahimsa – non-violence, non-injury, one of the yamas. It includes physical, mental, and emotional violence towards others and the self.

  2. Asana – yoga movement, position, pose or posture. You typically see this at the end of a yoga “pose” name a la Savasana (sava: corpse, asana: pose)

  3. Bandha – a posture in which organs and muscles are contracted to create energy lock in a specific area.

  4. Chakra – literally meaning “wheels”, in yoga this refers to the seven energy or “life force” centers lying from the base of the spine to the head.

  5. Ganesha – in mythology, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, the god who removes obstacle.

  6. Mantra – sound of syllables repeated by Yogis to produce a change in consciousness.

  7. Mudra – literally means ‘gesture’ – mudra expresses and channelizes cosmic energy within the mind and body. While there are other types of mudras, the most common can be thought of as “hand yoga postures”.

  8. Namaste – I bow to you. The light in me honors the light in you. The teacher in me bows and honors the teacher in you.

  9. Om – the universal mantra or sound; cosmic vibration of the universe; represents the four states of consciousness (also Aum).

  10. Prana – vital energy force sustaining life and creation.

  11. Pranayama – technique of breathing and breath control which regulates energy flow and aims at maintaining energy balance.

  12. Ujjayi breath – is a breath technique employed in a variety of Taoist and Yoga practices. In relation to Yoga, it is sometimes called “the ocean breath” or “victorious breath”. Unlike some other forms of pranayama, the ujjayi breath is typically done in association with asana practice.

  13. Sanskrit – a language used in of Yoga, Hinduism and Buddhism, and an official languages of India, considered “historical”.

  14. Yoga – state of union between two opposites – body and mind; individual and universal consciousness; a process of uniting the opposing forces in the body and mind in order to achieve supreme awareness and enlightenment, from the Sanskrit yug meaning “to join together or yoke”; a system of techniques to enable the joining of the physical and emotional/spiritual bodies.

  15. Shanti – Peace.


Ganesha – the remover of obstacles

Ganesha – the remover of obstacles

For a much more inclusive list of yoga terms, check out the Yoga Glossary.

Namaste. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om.

Now, it’s your turn …