16 Sanskrit Words to Have in Your Yoga Pocket

Photo Credit: julian-santa-ana-unsplash

Photo Credit: julian-santa-ana-unsplash

I originally started with 5, but there’s so much possibilities with more, and by then you’d be curious to go for your first teacher training or you would be thinking of buying the Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, which this geek did buy, just because. 

When I first started yoga. I made a game out of figuring out the pose first if it was spoken in Sanskrit, before the teacher repeats it in English. (Sometimes they don’t) There were plenty of embarrassing moments of me standing up when I’m supposed to be folding forward; then again I sometimes get my Left and Right confused. Fun times!

It did help distract my mind from the uncomfortableness of the pose.

In my Baptiste Power Vinyasa class, I don’t really spout much Sanskrit, because the Baptiste methodology speaks to essential language; direction - point to point and with English being everyone's language, you don’t actually need Sanskrit to get you to where you need to be.


But it’s nice to know a little of something of everything. You don’t have to repeat these words though. Knowing them will simply help you sink deeper into the experience.

Whereever you are at in your yoga journey, use this however way you like and you don't have to memorise these words. It’s not a test. Knowing them will simply help you sink deeper into the experience and may give you “aha moment” of "I got this in my yoga back pocket", like I did.


yo·ga | from the root word ”yuk", means to “to yoke or harness”

It means a union of the body, mind and soul using physical postures/movement (asana), mental discipline/mindfulness (meditation) as well as controlled breathing (pranayama).

From physicalness, with inquiry and self-discovery of one’s inner self, yoga becomes a whole-istic practice that encourages personal growth and transformation, which creates possibilities and empowerment in our lives.


a·sa·na | “seat” or “Posture”

Asana was originally served as stable poses for prolonged meditation “seat” (still is) and later greatly elaborated to the physical practice that we know of today. Patajali Yoga sutra 2.46 [Sthira sukhamasanam] stipulates that asana should be steady and comfortable, and it’s a practice of finding balance between effort (Sthira) and ease (sukha).  

In Baptiste Yoga - Asana is an access to Power, Vitality and FreedomLINK



A sound sometimes chanted at the beginning and end of many yoga classes to unite everyone as one. 

You can opt out of om-ing and take a long exhale out on the Om. 

Related Post: To Om or not to Om


na·mas·tay | the light in me acknowledges/sees the light in you

Usually said right at the end of the practice as a closing, with hands in anjali mudra, palms together at heart centre.

It is traditionally used as a respectful greeting in India and neighbouring cultures.

To me, it defines who we are, as humanity, that we are all the same, we want the same thing - connection and the sense of belonging. And that we have that it takes to be who we want to be. We show gratitude to that light within all of us, the light that will shine bright and give us the courage to show up as we are, and no what we think we should be.


uj·jay-yi | victorious breath or breath of fire

One of the 8 types of breath control (Pranayama) that makes a whispery “HA” sound at the back of your throat, reminding you to breathe consciously. 

Conscious breathing stimulate your nervous system, it encourages a feeling of relaxation and calm in the mind and the body and balances out the "fight or flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system.

This is the 1st Pillar of Baptiste Yoga.

To practice it, imagine you’re fogging up a mirror on the exhale (you can have one palm up in front of your mouth as you breathe out with your mouth open.)  After 3-5 breaths, close your mouth and re-create the sound.

It may be uncomfortable in the beginning, and a bit daunting when you can hear others breath. Remember, it’s not competition, and some people do have the capacity to allow others to hear and some don’t. Some say it takes practice. but I say do what you can. Imagine it like an ocean breeze, gentle yet grounding.

Start with listening for your breath and if you hear others breath, connect with their breathing and use it to support your own practice.

Related Post: Alternate Nostril Breathing


drish·ti | view/opinion/gaze/focus

A fixed focal point for the eyes while in Asana. It is the 2nd Pillar of Baptiste Yoga.


bahn·dahs | “bond” or “lock"

In physical asana. it’s your body's internal lock; used for controlling the energy within the body during yoga practice. It can also be interpreted as Energy Locks / Muscular Contractions / Stacking of joints to support the body in its true north alignment or tadasanas. 

The three bandhas taught in some lineages of “ hatha" yoga are Mula Bandha (Root Lock - Pelvic Floor Muscles) Uddiyana Bandha (Upward Flying - Lock the abdominals up to the diaphragm) and Jalandhara Bandha (Throat Lock - "Chin to Chest”).

The engagement of all 3 of the above is known as Maha Bandha or The Great Lock.

Secondary bandhas are Pada bandha (Foot Lock) and Hasta Bandha (Hand Lock).

Bandhas or Foundation is the 3rd Pillar of Baptiste Yoga.


ta·pas | “heat” or “fire” or “glow"

Without heat, ujjayi breath, you’re creating inner fire in your body. Physically, your body may feel sensations or “burning” in the muscles that you’re working on. You teacher may also say step into the fire or get to your edge of your comfort zone, which is a chance for you to leap off and experience what is possible what is possible outside of your comfort zone. 

This is the 4th Pillar of Baptiste Yoga. 


vin·nya·sah | From the sanskrit term nyasa, which means "to place," and the prefix vi, "in a special way”

Vinyasa is a type of yoga that  consciously links movement, asana and breath to achieve a continuous flow. Inhalation is usually connected to upward, open movements, while exhalation is often tied to downward movements or twists.

It is also the connecting poses of surya namaskar  (chaturanga, upward facing dog and downward facing dog) 

This is the 5th Pillar of Baptiste Yoga.

Surya namaskar

sur·ya·na·mas·kar | Sun Salutations

A sequence of asanas: Example Surya Namaskar A mountain pose, standing forward bend, lunge, plank pose, chatarunga, upward-facing dog, downward-facing dog



ta·da·sa·na | Mountain - Pose

Standing pose, you stand at an attention. And it’s the ideal alignment for every asana that we get into. Our True North.

Another similar term is Samasthiti (Equal Standing) is a command to attention, to stand in balanced stillness. It is the practice of standing with equal, steady, and still attention.



utt·ta·na·sa·na | “Intense Stretch” Pose or Standing forward bend or Forward Fold or rag doll


utt·kah·ta·sa·na | “Intense/Powerful/Awkward” Pose or Chair or Thunderbolt 

Chaturanga (Dandasana)

cha·tu·rang·ga |”four limbed staff pose” or Low plank


Supta Baddha Konasana

soup·tah·bah·da·koh·na·sa·na | Supine Butterfly “Recline Bound Angle” Pose

Sneaking this in, though this is not very common, but one of my favourite poses to remember, because it was hard.

I learnt this by calling it a “Super Bad ass” pose, because it is indeed super bad ass.

Feels so good to open those hips and my heart, and you know what’s the best part?

You can do this in bed.


sha·va·sa·na | Corpse Pose

Final relaxation/ Deep rest; typically performed at the end of every Yoga class, no matter what style.