The 10 Most Common Sanskrit Words Used in Yoga


he practice of yoga goes beyond physical postures and breath control it's a rich and complex tradition with deep cultural roots. One of the keys to unlocking the deeper aspects of yoga lies in the language of Sanskrit. In this article, we'll explore the importance of Sanskrit in yoga, learn some common terms, and discover how understanding this ancient language can enhance your yoga practice.

What is Sanskrit, and why is it important in yoga?

Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language originating in India, holds great significance in the realm of yoga. It served as the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, and has played a crucial role in preserving the traditional teachings and philosophy of yoga.


Sanskrit is a classical language with a rich history that has influenced many modern languages, particularly in South Asia. Its vast vocabulary and complex grammar make it a powerful means of expression, and it remains the language of choice for many spiritual and philosophical texts.

Connection to Yoga

Many foundational yoga texts, including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the Bhagavad Gita, were written in Sanskrit. Studying these texts in their original language offers a more profound understanding of the teachings and philosophy of yoga, as well as a deeper connection to its cultural and historical roots.

What are 10 common Sanskrit words used in yoga?

To build a solid foundation in understanding Sanskrit’s role in yoga, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with some common terms used in practice.

  1. Asana: Refers to the physical postures practiced in yoga.
  2. Pranayama: Describes breathing exercises used to control and expand the life force energy (prana).
  3. Drishti: The focused gaze during a yoga pose, which promotes concentration and inner awareness.
  4. Mudra: Symbolic hand gestures used to direct energy flow and enhance meditation.
  5. Bandha: Internal body locks that help control and channel the flow of energy.
  6. Mantra: Sacred sound, syllable, or phrase used in meditation or chanting to promote concentration and transformation.
  7. Chakra: Energy centers within the body that regulate physical, emotional, and spiritual processes.
  8. Vinyasa: A style of yoga characterized by the fluid connection of breath and movement between postures.
  9. Surya Namaskar: A sequence of yoga postures, commonly known as Sun Salutation, which serves as a warm-up or complete practice.
  10. Savasana: The final relaxation pose at the end of a yoga practice, also known as Corpse Pose, which promotes deep relaxation and integration.

Why are Sanskrit names used for yoga poses?

Utilizing Sanskrit names for yoga poses serves to both preserve tradition and provide a deeper understanding of each posture.

Preservation of Tradition

By using the Sanskrit names for yoga poses, practitioners and teachers alike contribute to preserving the ancient knowledge and wisdom behind each posture. This helps maintain the integrity and authenticity of yoga as a holistic practice.

Deeper Understanding

The Sanskrit names often reveal the symbolism, mythology, or anatomical focus of the poses, providing a more profound understanding of their purpose and benefits. By learning these names, you gain insight into the essence of each posture, enriching your practice.

How do I learn the Sanskrit names for yoga poses?

Learning the Sanskrit names for yoga poses requires both study and practice. Here are some tips for getting started:


Familiarize yourself with the Sanskrit names by studying yoga books, attending workshops, or seeking guidance from experienced yoga teachers. Make use of resources like dictionaries, flashcards, and online resources to build your vocabulary.


Regularly practice using the Sanskrit names during your yoga sessions to reinforce your learning and improve retention. As you practice, try to associate the names with the corresponding postures and their symbolism or anatomical focus.

How do I correctly pronounce Sanskrit words?

Pronouncing Sanskrit words accurately is essential for effective communication and understanding. Here are some tips to help you with pronunciation:

Phonetic Guide

Seek resources like phonetic guides or audio recordings that provide accurate pronunciations of Sanskrit words. These tools can help you become familiar with the unique sounds and intonations of the language.

Expert Guidance

Learn from experienced teachers or native speakers who can demonstrate the correct pronunciation and provide feedback. Attending workshops or courses focusing on Sanskrit pronunciation can be highly beneficial.

What are some essential Sanskrit terms related to the philosophy of yoga?

To deepen your understanding of yoga philosophy, it’s essential to become familiar with key Sanskrit terms that describe its foundational concepts:

  1. Yamas: Ethical guidelines or restraints that serve as the foundation of a yogic lifestyle.
  2. Niyamas: Personal observances or disciplines that promote self-awareness and spiritual growth.
  3. Samadhi: A state of deep meditative absorption, representing the ultimate goal of yoga.
  4. Dharma: One’s life purpose or duty, which varies depending on individual circumstances and stages of life.
  5. Karma: The law of cause and effect, stating that our actions have consequences, either positive or negative, in this life or future lives.
  6. Samsara: The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, which is driven by the law of karma.
  7. Moksha: Liberation from the cycle of samsara, achieved through spiritual realization and self-knowledge.

How can learning Sanskrit enhance my yoga practice?

Understanding Sanskrit words can significantly impact your yoga practice by fostering cultural appreciation and a holistic approach to the discipline.

Cultural Appreciation

Learning Sanskrit allows you to connect more deeply with the cultural roots and traditional teachings of yoga. This connection can enrich your practice, making it more meaningful and fulfilling.

Holistic Approach

Familiarity with Sanskrit terminology supports a more comprehensive understanding of yoga, encompassing not just the physical aspects but also the philosophical and spiritual dimensions. This holistic approach can help you experience the full benefits of yoga, including physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual growth.

Final Thoughts on The Most Common Sanskrit Words in Yoga

As you continue to explore the language of Sanskrit, you’ll find that it opens up new dimensions of understanding and appreciation for the practice of yoga. By incorporating Sanskrit into your practice, you’re not only preserving ancient wisdom but also deepening your connection to the roots of yoga. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced practitioner, learning Sanskrit can be a transformative and rewarding journey. So, embrace the challenge, immerse yourself in this sacred language, and watch your yoga practice flourish.

Caleb Sharbono is a writer, bio-hacker, wellness advocate, and yogi. Caleb, who grew up on a small Montana ranch, joined the Navy at 17 to study cryptology. He later graduated from the US Naval Academy with a Minor in Mandarin, a Bachelor's in General Engineering, and a Major in English Literature. Caleb's interests and career cover diverse industries and disciplines. Caleb lives in San Antonio and is a Certified Yoga Instructor. He is also studying Zen Buddhism, practicing Holistic Psychology, and working towards his 300-hour yoga teacher training.


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