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The world of yoga can be bewildering; it's a whole new language. And, while you’re not likely to hear many of these terms at Sweat (we like to talk in plain English), you might hear them somewhere else. So we’ve put together this neat little glossary. How damn useful is that?!

Yoga Jargon Buster

We’ve only included the most frequently used words here, so e-mail us if there’s a word or phrase you want us to add to this list.

  • Asana:Open or Close

    Asana means ‘pose’ or ‘posture’. So far, so simple. All Sanskrit posture names end in asana;
    paschmittonasana, tadasana, tuladandasana. Things can get quickly out of control though:
    give dandayamana bibhaktapada paschimottanasana a try!

  • Ashtanga:Open or Close

    Ashtanga or Ashtanga Vinyasa is a type of yoga devised by a guy called Pattabhi Jois. Madonna took it up, declared herself a fan, and it quickly became the new celeb-yoga fad. Like Bikram, Ashtanga is based on a set sequence of postures, and there are different sequences based on difficulty.

  • Bandha:Open or Close

    Bandha is the word for ‘body locks’. These internal locks are believed to affect the flow of energy from your head to your toes and through everything else in-between. If you can control these locks, you have more control over your body.

  • Bikram:Open or Close

    The original hot yoga: Bikram Yoga was invented by……(yep you’ve guessed it!), a guy called Bikram; Bikram Choudary to be precise. It’s based on traditional Hatha yoga and comprises a set series of postures practiced in a heated, humid room for precisely 90 minutes. The story goes that when Bikram left his native Calcutta to spread the teachings of yoga to the West, he had a lightbulb moment when he realised the reason why the majority of us Westerners are so inflexible is because we live in arctic conditions for half of the year and our muscles are cold! So he introduced heat and humidity to mimic the conditions of his native India. Bikram has an almost cult celebrity following, and is endorsed by everyone from George Clooney to Demi Moore. Bikram’s given rise to further types of hot yoga. Sweat Hot is based on the Bikram yoga sequence.

  • Chakra:Open or Close

    You’ve probably heard this one before. Chakras are points in the body that are the centres of ‘life force’ (or prana). Chakra points include major plexuses of arteries, veins and nerves.

  • Drishti:Open or Close

    This is your focal point in a posture. During a forward bend your drishti (or gaze) could be towards your toes or your knees. Holding your drishti helps you keep your mind focused and calm, and your balance. It’s a bit like keeping your eye on the horizon of the road if you’re feeling car-sick. If you’re looking at someone else in class who’s wobbling all over the place (it happens to the best of us), then you’ll probably wobble too. So keep your eyes on the road, people!

  • Hatha:Open or Close

    Hatha is basically the ‘original’ yoga and almost all yoga forms originate from it. Sweat Hot is simply Hatha poses performed in a hot room and No Sweat is a regular Hatha yoga class.

  • Inversion:Open or Close

    An inversion is very simply a posture where your head is below your heart. These postures can be as simple as standing forward folds and downward dog, or as gravity defying as head and handstands. Inversions are great for your circulation, they take pressure off your heart and also help your lymphatic system.

  • Lock the knee:Open or Close

    Locking the knee is part and parcel of having a strong balancing posture. Often misinterpreted as pushing back into the knee joint, it actually refers to engaging the quad muscles to strengthen and protect the knee. So think draw up and not push back.

  • Moksha yoga:Open or Close

    Moksha is a type of hot yoga. It’s based on 7 philosophical pillars, each one rooted in the traditional teachings of yoga. Moksha yoga studios are very popular in Canada but are also popping up internationally.

  • Mudra:Open or Close

    A mudra is generally used to describe a positioning of the hands and fingers. There are lots of different types of mudras, and different positions are thought to affect the flow of energy through the body in different ways.

  • Namaste:Open or Close

    Generally used at the end of a yoga class, namaste is essentially a greeting. In Hinduism it means ‘I bow to the divine in you’. We like this one at Sweat, so you may hear your instructor say it to you as a way of thanking you for your participation in class.

  • Power Yoga:Open or Close

    This is another system of yoga that’s derived from the Ashtanga Vinyasa sequence. There are lots of different types of Power Yoga; Sun Power Yoga, Rocket Yoga, Power Vinyasa Yoga, to name a few. Most originators of Power Yoga forms studied with Pattabhi Jois and their sequences focus on developing strength and flexibility.

  • Prana:Open or Close

    Prana is the Sanskrit word for ‘life force’, or in other words ‘breath’ (we need to breathe to live…geddit?). You might have noticed there’s loads of focus on breathing in yoga. That’s because connecting your breath with your movement keeps your mind and your body calm. Ever tried holding your breath for as long as you can? Eventually, your body starts to panic and your mind begins to race. Yoga focuses on teaching us to breathe calmly and steadily while exercising. That’s why yoga’s such a great workout and stress buster.

  • Pranayama:Open or Close

    Pranayama is basically a breathing exercise. Prana means breath (check out the previous entry) and ayama means extension (of your breathing, not your kitchen). In yoga you try to deepen (or extend) your breath and there are a huge array of exercises designed to help you to do this. The deeper you breathe the calmer and healthier you are. Inhale, everyone…

  • Restorative yoga:Open or Close

    Restorative is term used to describe a type of yoga where the focus in on deep relaxation. Poses are all done down on the floor, lying or seated and props are used to allow you to relax into a stretch and release tension. Postures are held for much longer than they are in other yoga classes. These types of classes are great for releasing physical, mental and emotional tension and developing flexibility. Flex is a restorative yoga class.

  • Savasana: Open or Close

    This is otherwise known as ‘corpse pose’ because it requires you to play dead. (Nice, isn’t it!). All you have to do is stay absolutely motionless on your mat. No fidgeting. No itching. No scratching. No wiping the sweat from your brow. And absolutely no picking your nose. It’s fiendishly difficult. Getting down and dead is done at the end of every yoga class to relax, as well as sometimes between floor postures.

  • Tadasana:Open or Close

    Tadasana, also known as ‘mountain pose’, is standing still on your mat. Sounds easy right? Surprisingly, this pose is also pretty tricky. You need to be strong through your body as you engage your muscles to stand tall (that’s the mountain bit you see…). It’s fab for fixing your posture. It’s done at the beginning of most classes, as well as between standing poses.

  • Vinyasa:Open or Close

    Like a lot of Sanskrit words, vinyasa means a lot of slightly different things. It’s commonly used to describe a form of yoga that’s free-flowing and dynamic and in which one posture leads directly into the next one. There’s also a lot of focus on connecting breathing with movement. Sweat Flow and Slow Flow are vinyasa classes.

  • Yin Yoga:Open or Close

    In some ways, yin yoga is the opposite of vinyasa. Yin is slower paced and postures are independent of one another and are held much, much longer (sometimes up to five minutes). Why? If you hold a posture for that long, you work deep into your tendons, fascia and ligaments which is great for developing your flexibility. Our Flex class is based on yin yoga.