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20 Sanskrit Words You Should Know

Whether you are teaching yoga, attending yoga classes, or reading about yoga, there are many Sanskrit words that are necessary to know.

It is said that the sounds of each Sanskrit word have the ability to heal the body and mind through the energetic vibrations of the nervous system and cells.

Through both saying these words and hearing them, this healing energy can flow.

As with any language, there are many words to learn, however, the following twenty are a good foundation to start from in teaching or taking yoga on a regular basis.

20 Sanskrit Words & Meanings

Balasana – Child’s Pose or Child’s Resting Pose

This is a kneeling pose that is most commonly used to rest in between poses as well as to settle into your mat before moving into standing poses.

Adho Mukha Shvanasana – Downward Facing Dog 

This is an inversion pose that is commonly used in a flowing Sun Salutation sequence and can also be used as a resting pose in more rigorous yoga classes.

Tadasana – Mountain 

This is one of the most well-known yoga poses, as it is a standing pose that typically starts the flow from one pose to another in Vinyasa yoga and Sun Salutations.

It is also used as a foundation for many other poses – most commonly balance poses.

Samasthiti – Equal Standing Pose

Many consider this to be the same as Tadasana, however, it is a little different in the fact that it encourages pausing and going inward before moving to the next pose and it is also the end of the Sun Salutation sequence instead of the beginning.


Enjoy this guide to yoga’s most common Sanskrit terms as you delve deep into the vast ocean of yoga philosophy.

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Uttanasana – Standing Forward Fold 

This is such a basic pose that has so many benefits to it and is used throughout yoga classes to transition from one pose to the next.

 Some of the benefits of this pose are drawing in calm, improving digestion, and strengthening the hips, legs, and reducing headaches.

Virabhadrasana 1, 2, & 3 – Warrior 1, 2, & 3 Poses

These poses are variants of each other and are staples for any yoga practice encouraging strength, endurance, and concentration.

Holding or flowing in these poses creates more strength and flexibility in all areas of the body.

Viparita Virabhadrasana - Reverse Warrior

It is hard to talk about the other warrior poses without including reverse warrior.

This pose is known for it’s grounding benefits for body and mind as well as improving flexibility in the spine and increasing strength in the lower body.

Utkatasana – Chair

This is a standing squat that helps increase strength in the thighs and ankles, while toning the rest of the lower body, specifically the glutes and spine.

 It is also a very fun pose to personalize by adding flowing twists or standing four square to play with balance and add additional strength building in the quadriceps.

Vrksasana – Tree

This balance pose is a staple in most forms of yoga as it helps increase balance, flexibility, and concentration.

Garudasana – Eagle

Another staple for standing balancing poses, Eagle helps increase flexibility in the shoulders and thighs while strengthening the glutes and core.

Natarajasana – Lord of the Dance 

One of the more advanced balance poses in yoga, this pose helps increase core strength and overall stability while opening the hip flexors and stretching the shoulders.

Bhujangasana – Cobra 

Most commonly known for increasing flexibility in the spine and stretching the chest, Cobra is also an alternative to Upward Facing Dog in the Sun Salutation sequence.

Malasana – Garland 

Malasana is a deep squat that increases flexibility within the back, ankles, and groin while strengthening the pelvic floor.

Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold 

This is another staple to any yoga practice as it offers the physical benefits of stretching the spine and hamstrings while also providing calm, grounding energy.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana - Pigeon

Offering a wonderful hip opening this is the first in a series of hip opening poses that vary based on the students’ abilities and desires.

Baddha Konasana - Bound Angle 

Also known as Cobbler’s Pose and Butterfly Pose. A great seated forward fold that opens the hips and spine.

Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Twist 

Commonly used at the end of yoga classes, this is a relaxing pose that offers a full release of tension in the spine while opening the hip extensors and shoulders.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge

This is a gentle inversion that helps open the chest and spine while strengthening the glutes and core. It is also known to increase lung capacity through the deep chest opening it provides.

Salamba Sarvangasana – Shoulder stand 

This is a more advanced inversion offering the detoxifying benefits of reversing the flow of oxygen and circulation to help clear the mind.

Commonly used towards the end of class to help students settle into Savasana better.

Savasana – Corpse 

The final pose in all yoga classes and historically the most important, as all the other poses provide the necessary flexibility and release of tension required to be able to rest, relax, and simply be in Savasana.

The Healing Power of Sanskrit 

This is just a small collection of the many Sanskrit words that comprise most of the current forms of yoga available for practice at home and in person.

All of these Sanskrit words set the foundation for anyone who is interested in teaching or taking yoga classes on a regular basis, and they are a wonderful way to deepen your understanding of yoga.

Like I mentioned in the beginning, the sounds of each Sanskrit word have the ability to heal body and mind through the energetic vibrations of the nervous system and cells.

It is all about tuning into those vibrations and letting the energy flow freely.

While the list is comprised of 20 words, there is one more that it is important to end with. Just as it is important to end a yoga class with – Namaste – a salutation that states “the light in me, honors and acknowledges the light in you.”

Michelle Finerty
Michelle has been writing professionally for over a decade. She started in the business world, focusing on cross-cultural communication and technical writing, and is now infusing the teachings of yoga with modern life, blending two of her and writing. Michelle also teaches yoga. Her classes can be found online by accessing her on-demand library which is updated on a regular basis. Check it out here:
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