5 Terms to Know Before Your First Yoga Class

When attending your first yoga class, you might hear some terms that you’re not familiar with. We’re here to share a few words to help you feel more comfortable in class. There are many more, but these will help you get started!



What Does Namaste Mean?

Okay, so you’ve probably heard this word before. But, do you know what it really means? Namaste translates to “I bow to you”. It’s traditionally a respectful greeting and can mean “my soul honors your soul” or  “the light in me sees and honors the light in you”.

When will you hear the word namaste? Typically, a yoga instructor will close class with this word and bow after placing hands at heart center (in front of your heart) or in front of the third eye (the space between your eyebrows). If you feel comfortable, feel free to reply with Namaste to show a sign of respect, but it isn’t required.

What is a Vinyasa?

Vinyasa means to arrange something in a certain way and is a sequence of poses in a practice. Vinyasa is also a practice that focuses on connecting breath to movement, typically matching the breath with movement through a pose.

When will you hear vinyasa? If you’re taking a Vinyasa class, you might hear a teacher cue to flow through your vinyasa or take a vinyasa. This means to flow through a sun salutation -- the yoga teacher will cue you through the movement -- and meet in downward facing dog.

What is Tadasana?

Tadasana is standing mountain pose. What is standing mountain pose? This pose might look like nothing other than standing up straight, but it involves grounding down with the feet at hip distance apart, feeling all four corners of the feel grounding into the floor. You can have your hands by your sides with palms facing forward or at heart center and roll the shoulders down the back.

When will you hear the word tadasana? Tadasana is the pose you’ll reach at the beginning and end of each sun salutation. Your yoga instructor might also have you come to this pose to reset your breath or before moving into balance poses.

What is a Drishti?

Drishti refers to your gaze. It’s a specific focal point that you have during your yoga poses or during meditation. Where your gaze goes, your attention follows, so it’s often used to help maintain focus and balance.

When will you hear drishti? You might hear a yoga instructor say, “Where is your drishti?” or “Keep your drishti just beyond your fingertips.” as reminders of where to focus your gaze.

What is Savasana?

Savasana means corpse pose. While it might sound a little morbid, its name reflects the importance of being completely still and relaxing every part of the body and (the more challenging part) your mind. To get into savasana, you’ll lie on your back with your legs about mat distance apart and with your arms out to your side with palms facing up.

When will you hear savasana? Savasana is always your last pose of your practice. When the class is nearly over, your teacher will cue to get into savasana, using any props you might like - possibly a bolster under the knees to relieve the low back or a blanket behind your head.



While some of the terminology might sound a bit strange at first and you might be trying to remember what each word means, one of the most important things is to have an open mind! Leave your expectations at the door and enjoy the practice! If you do have any questions about terms in class that were used, ask your yoga teacher!

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