I’d like to do yoga but I don’t know what any of it means

We didn’t want anyone to feel held back by the belief that yoga is too difficult to learn. So we’ve made this glossary for you, to take away the confusion and focus on the enjoyment!

by Luke Costley-White

One of the common beliefs about yoga is that it's very difficult to start doing, because it involves learning so much obscure vocabulary. But that shouldn't hold you back, it's just so lifetime yogis can keep the good stuff to themselves! With these terms under your belt, whether you’re going to a group class or training with an app like Asana Rebel, you’re never confused. Let’s get down to it. 

Some crucial terms you should know straight away:

Shavasana

Shavasana / Corpse Pose is a restorative pose for relaxation that usually is practised at the end of a Yoga sequence. It is a key component of Yoga.

Alignment
Body lies on the back, legs are comfortably spread, arms alongside the body, palms facing up. Eyes are closed, breath flows naturally. Body and mind are relaxed to fully assimilate the benefits of the yoga practice.

Benefits

  • Relaxes the whole body
  • Calms the mind
  • Releases stress and tension
  • Reduces blood pressure

 

Chaturanga

Chaturanga Dandasana (full name), also called Four-Limbed Staff Pose or Low Plank is basically a plank with elbows bent in a right angle. It is an autonomous as well as a transition pose, e.g. as part of the Sun Salutation sequence, in between Plank and Upward Facing Dog.

Alignment

Hands and feet are on the floor, body is parallel to the floor, elbows are bent 90 degrees and aligned close to the body.

Benefits

  • Strengthens and tones the wrists, arms, and lower back
  • Develops core stability
  • Prepares the body for arm balances and more challenging inversions

 

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is an absolutely essential pose from beginner to advanced, and a perfect posture for an ultimate all-over body stretch. It’s also an inversion pose (meaning that the heart is higher from the ground than the head).

With practice, Down Dog can become a resting pose during Yoga classes to help reconnecting with the breath and to relieve the spine. 

Alignment

The body forms a reverse “V” with hands and feet pushing into the floor and hips up high. Feel free to bend the knees slightly if its too hard to begin with, and even to lift your heels slightly. Later on, you can start pushing your heels into the ground and keeping better lines. 

Benefits

  • Stretches the whole backside of the body 
  • Strengthens your arms and legs
  • Calms the mind and releases stress

 

Childs Pose

Childs Pose is a resting/neutralizing pose (no stress in the lower back and spine) that can be practised at any time, especially after or in between challenging poses.

 Alignment

The body resembles the position of a fetus: buttocks on the heels, forehead on the ground, arms alongside the body to the back, palms facing up

 Benefits

  • Calms the body and mind and gently stretches the hips, thighs and the (lower) back
  • Helps to decrease stress, anxiety and fatigue

 

Warrior Poses

There are three traditional variations of Warrior Poses: Warrior I, II, III (The Sanskrit word for Warrior Pose is Virabhadrasana - named after the mythical Hindu warrior Virabhadra). The most common Warrior Pose is probably Warrior II. Warrior poses are all strong and powerful poses that require strength and steadiness. All three are standing postures with active arms, while Warrior 3 is a balancing posture as well.

Alignment

 Warrior 1: The front knee is bent while the back leg is straight. The arms are extended overhead and palms are touching. The hips are square, the back slightly bent backwards, gaze goes towards the hands…

 Warrior 2: The front knee is bent while the back leg is straight. The hips are open an arms extended in line with the legs. Gaze goes over the front hand.

 Warrior 3: Balancing on one straight leg while the trunk and arms extending horizontally forward and the lifted leg extending straight back. Gaze goes towards the ground, slightly forward.

Benefits

  • Warrior 1: Strengthens the legs, glutes, feet and core, stretches the chest, shoulders and belly arms and legs
  • Warrior 2: Full body experience - strengthens the legs, ankles and glutes, builds up the core, stretches chest, hips and shoulders and arms
  • Warrior 3: Strengthens the muscles of the whole back side of the body, legs, ankles, and shoulders as well as the core. Improves balance & posture

  

 

Cat Cow

Cat-Cow is a gentle sequence of two poses (Cat Pose and Cow Pose) that stretches the spine and warms up the body. It’s a great way to start off any yoga practice with some rounds of alternating Cat and Cow Poses.

Alignment

Cat Pose: Four-Foot-Stand, tailbone tucked + round back, gaze towards the belly

Cow Pose: Four-Foot-Stand, tailbone tilted + hollow back + open chest, gaze to the front + slightly upwards

Cat-Cow-Flow: From Four-Foot-Stand – Inhale and tilt pelvis back for Cow Pose, exhale and tuck tailbone for Cat Pose

Benefits

  • Warms up the spine, strengthens and improves its flexibility
  • Stretches the back torso and neck
  • Softly stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs
  • Opens the chest

 

Heart Center

The Heart Center - as this term is used in common Yoga classes with a focus on physical (Asana) practice – basically means the center of the chest, where e.g. the hands are held in prayer for Namasté / Anjali Mudra

Further there are more precise descriptions of where exactly the heart center as an exceptional portal of the spiritual heart is located in the chest area.

 

Who said yoga was too hard? Or too easy for that matter? Yoga is up to you: relaxing or relentless, calming or cardio. We've wrapped up some of our greatest hits for you.

 

Why not let us know the poses and terms you've never understood, maybe we can help!

Share some snaps of you trying out some new poses with us on Instagram @asanarebel

 

 

What is Asana Rebel?

The Asana Rebel app is an excellent tool to help you reach and achieve your health and fitness goals. For your physical health, the app is filled with more than 200 workouts that you can do from anywhere in the world and no equipment is required. For improving your mental wellbeing you can find mindfulness, meditation, sleep podcasts and nutrition advice.

No wonder 10 million users around the world have stopped wasting money on the gym and started investing in yoga-inspired fitness. Asana Rebel does it the right way.