About Yoga

About Yoga

Yoga citta vritti nirodhah. “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuating patterns of the mind.” ~The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


284071_10150249399672385_597417384_7846249_3145715_n copyWhat many people consider to be “yoga” is actually  asana, or the physical practice of poses.  Asana is only one limb (the third to be exact) in the eight limbs of Classical Ashtanga Yoga as first transcribes around 200CE by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. The word Ashtanga directly address this eight-fold path.  Ashta is the sanskrit word for eight, and anga translates as limb.

The goal of yoga is to illuminate and disrupt the subconscious memory patterns that drive the personality. Yoga offers the practitioner access to a profound innermost awareness of what he/she is holding onto and a sense of what their inner work is in this lifetime.  Yoga Sutra 3.18 lays it out beautifully: “Samskara saksat karanat purvajati jnanam.” Through sustained focus and meditation on our patterns, habits, and conditioning, we gain knowledge and understanding of our past and how we can change the patterns that aren’t serving us to live more freely and fully.”

 The Eight Limbed Path

The Yamas and the Niyamas are the first two limbs of Classical Yoga. Yama is the Sanskrit word for “abstinence” and the five Yamas are a set of external disciplines we can apply in our lives to help align more harmoniously with the Universe. Niyama translates as “observance” and the five Niyamas are a set of internal observances that help us align more fully with our highest Self.

The third limb, Asana means “seat.” The physical practice of yoga is aimed at strengthening the body and quieting the mind through physical release to prepare one for seated meditation. Most of the modern asanas, or poses, evolved over time, long after Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. To mistake asana alone for the whole of yoga is to confuse a single grain of sand for an entire shoreline. In his seminal book Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar wrote, “Without the practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama, which lay down firm foundations for building character, there cannot be an integrated personality.  Practice of asana without the backing of Yama and Niyama is mere acrobatics.”

The fourth limb, Prañayama, addresses the various practices of breath control that assist a practitioner with harmonizing the hemispheres of the brain, facilitating meditative peace and establishing a calm center. Prañayama is made up of two words. Praña means “life force” “vital energy” or “breath.” Ayama means “to extend” or “restrain.”

The fifth through seventh limbs (pratyahara, dharana, dhyana) deal with the increasing levels of meditative absorption.

The eight and final limb, samadhi addresses the state on enlightenment one may achieve by continually practicing all the other limbs.


  1. Yama: “External Controls” Disciples that help bring us in alignment with the Universe
    • ahimsa: non-harming
    • satya: truthfullness
    • asteya: non-stealing
    • brahmacharya: conscious sexuality / moderation
    • aparigraha: non-coveting / non-attachment to possessions
  2. Niyama: “Internal Controls” Disciples that help bring about a deeper realization of our essential nature or true Self
    • shauca: purity of body, mind and thought
    • santosha: contentment
    • tapas: self-discipline
    • svadhyaya: study of oneself
    • ishvara pranadyana: placing oneself near the Creator; the divine ideal of pure awareness; surrender from individul self to universal self
  3. Asana: “sitting” refers to all forms of the physical yoga postures
  4. Prañayama: breath control; mindful breathing
  5. Pratyahara: withdraw or mastery of the senses; turning inward
  6. Dharana: firmness or concentration
  7. Dhyana: meditation
  8. Samadhi: reunion with cosmic consciousness; oneness with the universe; self-realization (state on enlightenment one may achieve by continually practicing all the other limbs)

Branches of the Yoga Tree

In ancient times the practice of yoga was viewed as a vibrant living tree with manifold branches that articulated a particular path of yoga.  Each branch or path appeals to a particular personality type.  All branches are an expression and extension of the sacred yoga tree. Most modern yoga practitioners in the west are very familiar with the Hatha branch of the tree through their physical practice of yoga asana or postures. Some of the more widely practiced branches defined below are Karma, Bhakti, Jñana, Hatha, and Tantra.


“What did the tree learn from the earth to be able to talk with the sky?”
~Pablo Neruda

Karma: –
 Path of Service

Karma (pronounced kahr-mah) is the yoga of self-transendent action with a goal of performing our individual dharma, or duty in line with the cosmic order, selflessly without attachment to the fruits of one’s labor. Karma means “action.”

  • seva (selfless service for altruistic purposes to positively benefit the community)
  • volunteer work
  • care taking
  • random acts of kindness
  • acceptance
  • selfless-action preformed with integrity
  • action performed with full attention/ awareness

Bhakti: Path of Devotion & Love

Bakti (pronounced bhuk-tee) is yoga of the heart through seeing the divine in all of creation. Bhaj means “to serve.”

  • prayer, worship & ritual
  • chanting & singing
  • creative writing
  • practicing devotion, acceptance, tolerance & selfless love in everyday life
  • making flower offerings & creating alters
  • identifying & celebrating your gifts and strengths

Jñana: Path of the Sage or Scholar 

Jñana (pronounced gyah-nah) is yoga of the mind through meditation and intellectual study with the purpose of developing a non-dualistic awareness of everything being one with the universe. The goal of Jñana yoga is to become realized through direct experiences of higher inner awarness about who we really are. Jñana means “wisdom” or “knowledge” and refers both to the simple act of knowing and vinjñana or “realized knowledge” or “consciousness.” 

  • introspective journaling & quiet reflection
  • studying sacred text
  • self study to  gain knowledge from one’s essence
  • attending workshops & dharma talks
  • direct self inquiry, i.e. “Who am I?”
  • contemplation of spiritual questions with one pointed awareness

Hatha: Path of Physical Discipline

Hatha (pronounced haht-ha) is yoga of precise physical discipline through extreme forceful action designed to purify the body and balance one’s energy. The various modern styles of “yoga” are just branded variations of hatha yoga.  Hatha means “force.” Ha means “sun,” tha means “moon.” 

  • asana – practice of yoga postures
  • pranayama – breath regulation techniques
  • shatkarmas – (six processes) physical & mental cleansing techniques:
    1. Neti “nasal wash”: purifying the air passageways in the head
    2. Dhauti: purifying the stomach – full length of the digestive tract along with respiratory tract, external ears & eyes
    3. Nauli “intestinal cleansing”: purifying abdominal region – digestive organs & small intestine
    4. Basti: purifying of the lower abdomen, especially the colon
    5. Kapalabhati “skull shining”: pranayama (breath control) practice to purify the respiratory organs & cranial sinuses
    6. Tratak “to gaze”: purifying the mind through gazing at an external object
  • mudras – hand seals
  • bandhas – body locks

Tantra: Path of Ritual

Tantra (pronounced tahn-trah) is yoga of sacred ritual to bring the practitioners into deep communion with all life, all experience as sacred. Tantra is a wildly creative religious path with practice that extend far beyond the range of familiar social norms. In the West, Tantra is often inaccurately understood exclusively as a set of “sex-practices.” While everything is hallowed in tantra, sanctified sex to unify one’s soul with the divine is a part of tantric philosophy and practice but certainly not the focus. (If fact celibacy is a predominant tantric practice throughout the world.) Tantra means “weave” or “woven together,” and is occasionally translated as “to expand.”

  • performance of rituals and ceremony aimed at expanding one’s awareness in all states of being
  • tapping into cosmic love
  • experiencing everything as sacred, finding divinity in every aspect of life

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Sanskrit/English Poses

Sanskrit/English Poses

“The vibrational purity and resonating power of Sanskrit is above all an opera on a grand cosmic scale that you can sing with your whole heart and being.”  ~Vyass Houston

All of life resonates at a specific vibration.  Sanskrit is considered to be one of the oldest languages on earth, comprised of sacred sounds of rhythm, melody and harmony. The Sanskrit names for the physical asanas, or yoga poses, were crafted to reflect the essential nature of that which they describe. The seed sounds, or bijas, that make up each Sanskrit title for a particular yoga pose, carry a unique and intentional frequency. Perfect pronunciation of these bijas resonate with the essential vibration of the universe itself. To call an asana aloud in Sanskrit while aligning yourself in that particular posture is a tangible way to deeply explore the energy of that pose while unifying sound and physical sensation.

I invite us all to welcome more Sanskrit into our lives!  🙂

I offer below a work in progress – I am compiling a list of yoga poses with their corresponding English names.
♥ I will update this as time allows. ♥


Sanskrit ame


English Translation

Also Called


Dwi Pada Pitham dvee Pa-da PEET-ham dwi = two; pada = foot; pitha = stool,  chair Two-legged Table Supine Pose, Vinyasa
Savasana shah-VAHS-anna sava = corpse Corpse Pose, Final Resting Pose Supine Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana BAH-dah-cone-AHS-anna supta= resting, reclining, sleeping; baddha = bound; kona = angle Reclining Bound Angle Pose Supine Pose
Supta Virasana    soup-tah veer-AHS-anna supta= resting, reclining, sleeping; vira = a hero, brave Reclining Hero Pose Supine Pose
Virabhadrasana II               vira = a hero, brave; Virabhadra = name of a fierce mythical warrior said to have 1,000 heads, eyes, arms & legs Warrior II Pose Standing, hip opener
Parivrtta Trikonasana      par-ee-vrit-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna parivrtta = twist, revolve, turned around; tri = three; kona = angle Revolved Triangle Pose Standing Pose, Twisting Pose
Prasarita Padottanasana                  prasarita = spread out, expanded; pada = foot, leg; uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Wide-Legged Forward Bend Standing Pose, Inversion, Forward Bend
Virabhadrasana I   vira = a hero, brave; Virabhadra = name of a fierce mythical warrior said to have 1,000 heads, eyes, arms & legs Warrior I Pose Standing Pose, Hip Opening, Backbend
Utthita Trikonasana oo-TEE-tah trik cone-NAHS-anna utthita = extended; tri = three, kona = angle Triangle pose, Extended Triangle Pose Standing Pose, Hip Opening
Parsvottanasana parsva = side, flank, lateral; uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Intense Side Stretch Pose, Pyramid Pose Standing Pose, Forward Bend
Uttanasana            uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Standing Forward Fold Standing Pose, Forward Bend
Garudasana          garuda = eagle, fierce predatory bird – (said to be the Hindu god Vishnu’s vehicle) Eagle Pose Standing Pose, Balance Pose
Supta Padangusthasana supta= resting, reclining, sleeping; pada = foot, leg; angustha = big toe Reclining Big Toe Pose Standing pose, balance pose
Virabhadrasana III             vira = a hero, brave; Virabhadra = name of a fierce mythical warrior said to have 1,000 heads, eyes, arms & legs Warrior III Pose Standing Pose, Balance Pose
Vrksasana              vrksa = tree Tree Pose Standing Pose, Balance Pose
Natarajasana not-ah-raj-AHS-anna nata = dancer; raja = king Lord of the Dance Pose, King Dancer Pose Standing Pose, Back bend, Balance
Adho Mukha Savasana AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna adho-mukha = face downward Downward-Facing Dog, Down Dog Standing Pose
Parivrtta Baddha Parsvakonasana par-ee-vrit-tah  BAH-dah parivrtta = twist, revolve, turned around; baddha = bound; parsva = side, flank, lateral; kona = angle Revolved Side Angle Pose (w/ bind); Standing Pose
Parivrtta Parsvakonasana par-ee-vrt-tah parsh-vah-cone-AHS-anna parivrtta = twist, revolve, turned around; parsva = side, flank, lateral; kona = angle Revolved Side Angle Pose; Standing Pose
Tadasana                tada = mountain Mountain Pose Standing Pose
Upavesasana upavistha = seated Standing Pose
Utkatasana  utkatha = fierce, furious Chair Pose Standing Pose
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana     utthita = extended; hasta = hand; pada = foot, leg, angustha = big toe Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose, Standing Big Toe Pose Standing Pose
Utthita Parsvakonasana                    cone-NAHS-anna utthita = extended; parsva = side, flank, lateral; kona = angle Extended Side Angle Pose Standing Pose
Upavistha Konasana           oo-pah-VEESH-tah-cone-AHS-anna  upavistha = seated; kona = angle Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend, Seated Wide Legged Straddle Seated Pose; Forward Bend
Ardha Matsyendrasana                    ARD-hah MOTS-yen-DRAHS-anna ardha = half; matsya = fish; indra = ruler, lord Half Lord of the Fishes Pose Seated Pose, Twist
Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana par-ee-vrit-tah JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna parivrtta = twist, revolve, turned around; janu = knee; shiras = to touch with the hand Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose Seated Pose, Twist
Janu Sirsasana    JAH-new shear-SHAHS-anna janu = knee; shiras = to touch with the hand Head-to-Knee Forward Bend Seated Pose, Forward Bend
Kurmasana koor-MAHS-anna kurma = tortise; turtle Turtle Pose Seated Pose, Forward Bend
Paschimottanasana         POS-chee-moh-tan-AHS-anna pascha = behind, westward facing; uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Seated Forward Bend Seated Pose, Forward Bend
Supta Kurmasana koor-MAHS-anna supta = resting; kurma = tortoise, turtle Reclining Turtle Pose Seated Pose, Forward Bend
Mulabandhasana moola-ban-DHAS-anna mula = root, foundation; bandha = binding, tying Pose of the Root Lock Seated Pose (for pranayama)
Baddha Konasana               BAH-dah-cone-AHS-anna baddha = bound; kona = angle Bound Angle Pose, Cobbler’s Pose Seated Pose
Dandasana            dan-DAHS-anna danda = staff Staff Pose Seated Pose
Gomukhasana    go-moo-KAHS-anna go= cow; mukha = face Cow Face Pose Seated Pose
Mahamudra ma-ha-MOO-dra maha = great, mighty, strong; mudra = sealing, shutting, closing The Great Seal Seated Pose
Padmasana           pod-MAHS-anna padma = lotus Lotus Pose Seated Pose
Siddhasana sid-DHAS-anna siddha = a sage, profet, proven Adept’s Pose Seated Pose
Sukhasana             suk-HAS-anna sukha = delight, joy, pleasure/ sukhata = comfort Easy Pose Seated Pose
Svastikasana sva-steek-AHS-ana svasa= inspiration Auspicious Pose Seated Pose
Hanumanasana                    ha-NEW-mahn-AHS-anna hunuman = name of the devine chief of monkeys that served Rama Monkey Pose Seated Pose
Balasana                 BAH-las-anna bala = infant Child’s Pose Kneeling Pose, Forward Bend
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana                 eh-KAH pad-DAH rah-JAH-cop-poh-TAHS-anna eka = one; pada = foot, leg ; raja = king;  kapota = dove, pigeon One-Legged King Pigeon Pose Kneeling Pose, Backbend
Parighasana         par-ee-GOSS-anna parigha = a beam or bar used for locking a gate Gate Pose, Gate-Latch Pose Kneeling Pose
Simhasana sim-HAHS-anna simha = lion Lion Pose Keeling Pose, Jaw Stretch
Adho Mukha Vrksasana Ah-doh moo-kah vriks-SHAHS-anna adho-mukha = face downward; vrksa = tree Handstand Inversion
Ustrasana              oosh-TRAHS-anna ustra = camel Camel Pose Backbend,  Kneeling Pose,
  Sphinx Pose Backbend
Ardha Bhekasana                ARD-hah ardha = half; Half Frog Pose Backbend
Ashtanga Namaskara Ashta = eight;  anga = limbed; namaskara = salutation, to bow, honor Knees, Chest, and Chin Backbend
Bhujangasana     boo-jang-GAHS-anna bhuja = arm, shoulder;  anga = limbed;  bhujanga = serpent, snake Cobra Pose Backbend
Bitilasana              Cow Pose Backbend
Camatkarasana Wild Thing Backbend
Dhanurasana       Bow Pose Backbend
Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana      dwi = two; pada = foot, leg ; danda = staff Upward Facing Two-Foot Staff Pose Backbend
Kapotasana          kapota = dove, pigeon King Pigeon Pose Backbend
Matsyasana          mot-see-AHS-anna matsya = fish Fish Pose Backbend
Pincha Mayurasana           pin-cha my-your-AHS-anna piñca = feather; mayura = peacock Feathered Peacock Pose, Forearm Stand Backbend
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana sar-van-GAHS-anna bandha = binding, tying;  sarva = all; anga = limb Bridge Pose Backbend
Shalabasana sha-la-BAHS-anna salabha = grasshopper, locust Locust Pose Backbend
Urdhva Dhanurasana        OORD-vah don-your-AHS-anna Urdva = upward;  dhanu = bow Upward Bow, Wheel Pose Backbend
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana               OORD-vah MOO-kah shvon-AHS-anna Urdva = upward; mukha = face Upward-Facing Dog Backbend
Chaturanga Dandasana   chaht-tour-ANG-ah don-DAHS-anna chatur = four; anga = limbed; danda = staff Four-Limbed Staff Pose Arm Balance
  High Lunge, Variation
  High Lunge
  Dolphin Plank Pose
  Dolphin Pose
Adho Mukha Savasana Natarajasana AH-doh MOO-kah shvah-NAHS-anna adho-mukha = face downward; nata = dancer; raja = king Downward-Facing Dog Dancer Pose
Agnistambhasana Fire Log Pose
Ananda Balasana Happy Baby Pose
Anantasana Side-Reclining Leg Lift, Sleeping Vishnu Pose
Anjaneyasana     Low Lunge, Crescent Lunge Pose, Grounded Warrior I
Ardha Chandrasana          ARD-hah ardha = half; chandra = moon Half Moon Pose
Ardha Uttanasana              ARD-hah ardha = half; uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Standing Half Forward Bend
Astavakrasana    ahsh-tah-vah-krahs-anna Ashta = eight;  vakra = bent, curved Eight-Angle Pose
Baddha Parighasana BAH-dah baddha = bound Bound Gate
Baddha Setu Bandha Sarvangasana BAH-dah  sar-van-GAHS-anna baddha = bound; Setu = ; bandha = binding, tying;  sarva = all; anga = limb Bound Bridge Pose, Bound Half Wheel
Bakasana                Crane Pose, Crow Pose
Bharadvajasana I                  Bharadvaja’s Twist
Bhujapidasana bhuja = arm, shoulder  Shoulder-Pressing Pose
Eka Pada Galavasana eh-KAH pad-DAH eka = one; pada = foot, leg Flying Crow Pose
Eka Pada Koundiyanasana I             eh-KAH pad-DAH eka = one; pada = foot, leg Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya I
Eka Pada Koundiyanasana II            eh-KAH pad-DAH eka = one; pada = foot, leg Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana II             eh-KAH pad-DAH eka = one; pada = foot, leg ; raja = king; kapota = dove, pigeon One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Halasana                Plow Pose
Krounchasana    Heron Pose
Kumbhakasana /Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana oot-T-HEE-tuh  chaht-tour-ANG-ah dan-DAHS-anna kumbhak = breath retention /
utthita = extended;  chatur = four; anga = limbed; danda = staff
Plank Pose
Lolasana Pendant Pose
Malasana               Garland Pose
Marichyasana I Pose Dedicated to the Sage Marichi, I
Marichyasana III                  Marichi’s Pose
Marjaryasana      Cat Pose
Mayurasana         Peacock Pose
Navasana nava = a boat Boat Pose
Padansthasana   pada = foot, leg; angustha = big toe Big Toe Pose
Paripurna Navasana         Full Boat Pose
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana par-ee-vrit-tah are-dah chan-DRAHS-anna parivrtta = twist, revolve, turned around; ardha = half; Chandra = moon Revolved Half Moon Pose
Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana par-ee-vrit-tah parivrtta = twist, revolve, turned around; Compass Pose
Parsva Bakasana                   parsva = side, flank, lateral; Side Crane Pose, Side Crow Pose
Pasasana Noose Pose
Purvottanasana                    uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Upward Plank Pose
Salamba Sarvangasana      sah-LOM-bah sar-van-GAHS-anna sa = with;
 alamba = support;  sarva = all; anga = limb Supported Shoulder stand
Salamba Sirsasana sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna sa = with;
 alamba = support; sirsa = head Supported Headstand
Salambhasana sah-LOM-bah Locust Pose
Samasthiti sama = equal, same; asthiti = position, standing-place Mountain Pose
Supta Matsyendrasana mot-see-AH supta= resting, reclining, sleeping; matsya = fish; indra = ruler, lord Supine Spinal Twist
Surya Namaskar surya = sun; namas = to bow, salute, honor; kri = to do, make, act Sun Salutation
Svarga Dvijasana Bird of Paradise Pose
Tittibhasana        Firefly Pose
Tolasana                 Scale Pose
Urdhva Hastasana               Urdva = upward; hasta = hand Upward Salute, Raised Hands Pose
Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana    OORD-vah eka = one Urdva = upward; prasarita = spread out, expanded; pada = foot, leg Standing Split
Utkata Konasana cone-NAHS-anna utkatha = fierce; kona = angle Goddess or Victory Squat
Uttana Shishosana               uttana = stretched out/over, an intense stretch Extended Puppy Pose
Vasisthasana Side Plank Pose
Viparita Karani Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose
Virasana                 vira = a hero, brave Hero Pose
Vrschikasana Scorpion Pose
Yoga Nidrasana Sleeping Yogi Pose