For those who are new to yoga and have been confused about some of the language used in classes, I'd like to dedicate this post to you. Now there are many different terms that can be used in the yoga world, but these are some of the most common phrases that I have heard in my yoga journey.
Asana - I'd like to start this list with something that I'm sure not too many beginners hear too often, but is a major part of the yoga practice. When someone is talking about Asanas, they are referring to yoga postures. Yoga postures = Asanas.
Pranayama - Refers to breathing techniques. There are many different types of breathing techniques, and they are an essential aspect in yoga.
Ground Your Feet - So to ground your feet, you simply focus on your feet and spread your body weight to all four corners of your feet. It's also helpful to imagine yourself growing roots in your feet to really get that grounded feeling.
Lift Your Heart - So lifting your heart is essentially and upper-backbend. By lifting your heart, you are separating your front ribs, from your hips. This effect is better than just bending your back, as you are creating more space in your lungs.
TIP: to have better posture, instead of focusing on bringing your shoulders back, imagine lift your heart instead and let your shoulders fall back naturally. Your not 'puffing' out your chest, but rather lifting your heart.
Open Your Heart - So this one is similar to lifting your heart, but instead of lifting, your opening your arms up to allow your heart to move forward. This is really good to work on your shoulder mobility and it helps to open up your heart chakra.
Breathe Into... - So I use this term in class to get students to relax into a pose. So let's say we want to breathe into our hip. To do this, take a deep inhale. Then on the exhale, focus on relaxing the tension in your hip, relaxing your muscles, and then relaxing your whole body.
Lengthen Your Spine - So in yoga, we like to lengthen our spine on our inhales, and deepen or move our bodies on the exhales. To lengthen your spine, take a nice deep inhale and then imagine you have a string at the top of your head and your being pulled up. You can also imagine yourself growing taller (which yoga has been known to give people a few centimetres in height).
Engage Your... - In yoga we want to work as many muscles at the same time as we can. So when a teacher says, "engage your core" imagine yourself pulling your bellybutton to the back of your spine. This engages your muscles to make the workout more effective and also helps to prevent injury. Likewise, when a teacher says, "engage your feet" they want you to pull your foot up towards your body, which helps to protect your knee joints in certain postures.
Namaste - For mostly all yoga classes, the yoga teacher will end the class saying, "Namaste". This word loosely translates to, "The light in me, sees and honours the light in you." It's us (teachers) thanking you for joining us and sharing your energy with us.
So there you have it, a few commonly used phases in the yoga world. If you have some more phrases that you'd like to share, feel free to drop a comment below.
Until next time