A Beginners’ Guide to Yoga Vocabulary

Namaste. Savasana. Ujjayi. These vocabulary words are common to most yoga classes, but can be intimidating for beginners. Most yoga instructors guide their classes through sequences using both Sanskrit -- the classical Indian language used in yoga -- and the English translations for the words. This can be intimidating to people who are new to their yoga practice. Learning new movements and breathing techniques is difficult enough when adding another language to the mix. But, don't worry! With consistent yoga practice, students will naturally learn the Sanskrit terms as they progress further in their practice. 

If you're not quite there yet or could use a refresher, here are a few common yoga vocabulary words, in the original Sanskrit with their English translations,  that you may hear in any yoga class.


Pronounced AH-sun-ah.

An asana is a yoga pose or posture. The original Sanskrit names for yoga poses have "asana" as a suffix. 


Pronounced Prah-nuh-YAH-ma.

Pranayama refers to awareness of breath and the ability to control one’s breath for a specific purpose. In yoga there are numerous breathing techniques, including ujjayi.


Pronounced OOO-jah-yee.

Ujjayi is an energizing and calming breathing technique in yoga. To create Ujjayi breath, slightly constrict the back of your throat during inhalation and exhalation. This gives the breath an audible, oceanic sounding quality. Focusing on your ujjayi breath and linking your breath to movement can help improve your endurance and concentration through challenging flows. 


Pronounced Vin-YAH-sah

The literal translation of Vinyasa is "to place in a special way", but it has much deeper meaning in practice. Vinyasa can refer to a flowing style of yoga that links breath to movement. Yoga Six classes are Vinyasa style, and our Vinyasa class is named for it. Vinyasa can also refer to the flowing sequence: high plank, low plank, upward facing dog, downward facing dog. 


Pronounced Sah-VAH-suh-nah.

Savasana, or corpse pose, is the final posture in most classes. This resting pose provides space for the mind and body to relax and integrate the efforts of practice. This posture is seemingly simple but can be difficult for many as it requires complete stillness, in both body and mind.


Pronounced NAH-mah-stay.

Namaste is a greeting of respect and gratitude. Translated, it most closely means “the divine essence in me recognizes the divine essence in you.” Many instructors may begin and end class with Namaste, while holding hands together at heart center and bowing.

Use your new Sanskrit knowledge in class! Find a Yoga Six studio near you.

Want to learn more? Enroll in 2017 Yoga Teacher Training now.

Relaxing Yoga Poses For Better Sleep

Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? You're not alone. According to the Center of Disease Control, over one quarter of the U.S. population reports having poor quality sleep, with over 10% experiencing chronic insomnia. Sleep is essential for a healthy body and mind. Insufficient sleep has been linked to serious health conditions, including depression, obesity, and heart disease.

Try these relaxing yoga poses for a night of better sleep. Adding yoga to your daily workout routine can improve your sleep by calming your nervous system and promoting relaxation. A soothing practice before bedtime can put the body in a restful state with just a few restorative postures.

Try these 4 yoga poses before bed to relax and prepare your mind and body for a night of restful sleep. Hold each pose for several rounds of breath, exaggerating the inhale and exhale. Allow for a brief, intentional pause at the top and bottom of each breath.


Standing Forward Fold

Relieves headaches and insomnia.

Stand with your legs hips distance apart. Soften your knees and gently bend forward. Allow your head to hang loose. Feel free to rest your hands on the floor or cross your arms and reach for opposite elbows. 


Child's Pose

Calms the mind and relieves tension in the body.

Knee on the ground with your knees wide and toes touching. Fold forward and allow your forehead to rest on the ground, arms stretched out in front of you or by your sides.


Legs Up The Wall

Promotes relaxation and grounding.

Lie on your back with your bottom close to the wall. Extend your legs up the wall and allow them to rest. Place your arms in a comfortable neutral position, either by your sides or extended in a T shape. 

Supine Spinal Twist

Relieves tension in the spine and promotes digestion.

Lie on your back. Draw your knees into your chest and extend your arms wide in a “T” shape. Bend one knee and cross it over outside the opposite leg. Pause for several breaths. When you feel complete, repeat the exercise on the opposite side.

Learn these yoga poses and more at your local Yoga Six studio

Do you practice at our Chicago studios? Join us at Yoga Six South Loop for Relaxapalooza, the only yoga festival solely dedicated to relaxation. Learn gentle yoga, restorative yoga, self-massage and more from some of Chicago's best yoga instructors. Relaxapalooza Festival runs November 11-12. Buy tickets in advance.

Boot Camp Exercises To
Combat Sitting All Day

The average American office worker spends about 10-13 hours a day sitting, including time in front of a computer at work and sedentary downtime at home.  Add 8 hours of sleep, and the result is a whopping 21 hours of sedentary lifestyle. All this sitting takes a toll on your health, from muscle degeneration in the legs and abs to an inflexible spine and soreness in the neck and shoulders. Making time to exercise regularly throughout the week and getting the most out of your workout are essential to preventing the health hazards that come with sitting in a cubicle all day. 

Yoga Six Carlsbad Manager Zac Armstrong has the best Boot Camp moves to combat sitting at a desk all day. Try them with weights at home or take a Boot Camp class at a Yoga Six studio near you. 

Reverse Delt Fly

Strengthens and stretches back muscles (deltoids, rhomboids, and trapezius)

Start standing with feet hip width distance apart and knees slightly bent. Engage through your core and extend your arms down below the heart. Inhale, bring your arms out wide and pause at the top, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Exhale and slowly lower the arms down with control. 

High Lunge with Tricep Extension

Strengthens quads, glutes, hamstrings, and triceps. 

Step one foot forward into High Lunge and hinge your upper body slightly forward from your hips. Pull your elbows high behind your ribcage and extend your forearms back, squeezing your shoulder blades together and keeping your chest broad. After completing reps on side, switch footing and repeat with the opposite leg lunging forward.

Plié Squat with Shoulder Raise

Tones the inner thighs, calves, glutes, shoulders, and core. 

Start with feet just outside the hips, toes pointed out. Inhale and draw your knees out over the second toe. As you squat down, reach your arms out overhead and allow the weights to connect at the top. Slowly come up through center and return to standing position. Remember to keep your core and glutes engaged! 

SIngle Leg Hip Lift

Stabilizes and strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, and core. 

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip width apart. Place foot one on a yoga block and extend the opposite leg straight up in the air. Press into your heel and squeeze your hips up, then slowly lower down. Repeat 10-12 times and repeat with the opposite leg.

Sweat it out in a Boot Camp class at your local Yoga Six studio

5 Yoga Poses for Stronger Muscles

Doctors and exercise scientists agree that strength training should be an integral part of your health and fitness routines. And, you don't need to hit the gym or lift weights to do it! Yoga is a bodyweight exercise that builds lean muscle mass, reduces body fat, and burns calories more efficiently without workout machines or dumbbells. All you need is time and your mat! 

This simple strength building yoga sequence targets the major muscle groups and builds heat in the body. Hold each pose for 6-8 breaths and repeat the sequence on the other side after completing. 


High Lunge

Target Muscle Groups: Strengthens quadriceps and glutes

Start standing with your feet together, hands on your hips. Take a giant step back with your left leg and deeply bend into the right knee. Drawing your thigh parallel to the floor, scissor hug your legs and stack your back heel over your back big toe. Extend your arms skyward.

Warrior 2

Target Muscle Groups: Strengthens quadriceps and glutes, stretches inner thigh.

From High Lunge, rotate your back foot 90 degrees and bring your heel to the floor so that the outside edge of your back foot is parallel to the short side of your yoga mat. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot. Keep your front knee bent over your front ankle, with your shin perpendicular to the floor. Keep your torso stacked over your hips, spin your arms to the horizon and gaze forward at your fingertips.


Target Muscle Groups: Strengthens upper body and core muscles.

Cartwheel your hands to the floor. Frame your front foot with your hand. Step your front foot backward to meet your back foot. (Option to bring your knees to the floor for more support.)


Target Muscle Groups: Strengthens shoulders, back and core muscles; opens shoulders and hamstrings.

Release your forearms to the floor. Press your palms into the ground and keep your forearms parallel. Gaze between your thumbs and use core strength to you walk your toes toward your elbows. Keep the knees slightly bent with heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from your pelvis and keep the spine straight without rounding the upper back. 


Target Muscle Groups: Strengthens the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, external obliques, glutes, spinal muscles); opens chest and shoulder muscles.

Walk your feet back out to forearm plank and slowly release onto your belly. Bring your neck into a neutral position, chin on floor, and extend your arms long by your sides, palms face down. Lift your legs, chest and arms off the ground.

Get stronger with these poses and more in Power Yoga and Vinyasa classes at your local Yoga Six studio