Yoga Terms Definitions – A Guide For Beginners

Yoga Terms Definitions – A Guide For Beginners

Hello everyone! Hope you are having a great day!

Today I want to talk about yoga terms definitions. Basically, this is all the yoga terminology that you may encounter in a regular yoga class.

Some of these will seem like no-brainers and others may surprise you.

I feel like it’s best to have some knowledge of these terms before attending a yoga class to feel like you are in the loop and to make it easier to follow along.

If you have any questions or additional terms that I have not included in here, please let me know in the comment section below – or you can leave a comment just to chat. Either is okay with me!

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Cleansing Breath

You will hear things like – Take a cleansing breath and after you have set your intention and exhale a cleansing breath.

A cleansing breath is used to really focus on your exhale. Generally, it’s a breath out with an audible sigh although sometimes, it’s just a really long exhale without sound.

A cleansing breath is mentioned for you to solely focus on your breath.

yoga terms definitionsIf This Is Available

‘If this is available’ is your yoga instructor telling you not to push yourself. The meaning of this saying is don’t overexert yourself but if you feel strong enough to take on this pose, do so.


Pranayama is breath. That’s it.

You will hear things like focus on your pranayama or, tap into it.

It’s used as a reminder to make sure you are breathing. Yoga movement flows by breath and it’s important to tap into the breath and make sure to utilize it.

Sink Into The Pose

When you hear, sink into the pose it means to try to get into it deeper.


For example, when you are in chair pose, sink into it a bit more and go lower, or in Warrior 2 bend your knees more, get a bit more of a burn.

Sink into the pose is to really experience all that it is.

Breath Into It

Sometimes in yoga, you get into a really deep pose – meaning it’s a very deep stretch. When you hear breathe into it, your instructor is recognizing that it is a deep pose and is telling you to exhale into the feelings.

When you hear breathe into it focus your breath on where you are feeling the most sensations and it makes the stretch easier and gives you the ability to get deeper into the stretch.


yoga terms

Namaste is spoken at the end of the practice. It is the acknowledgement of your yoga teachers soul to yours.

It’s acknowledging them and you in a term of Divine Spark that is located in the heart chakra.

Want to learn all the chakras? Check out this post.

Reach Through The Top Of The Head

When you hear reach through the top of the head it means to really stretch out the spine.

Make sure your posture is straight and think of extending your strength past your head.

In a very simplistic term, it is to make sure your back is straight.

yoga terms definitionsInhale To Lengthen Exhale To Deepen

This is similar to reach through the top of the head.

Think of going into triangle pose, before you fold over your front leg, you want to use your breath to lengthen (or straighten your back) and then exhale to fold over and sink into the pose.

Use this terminology when you are in a seated forward fold as well. Lengthen through the torso on your inhale and exhale to fold over your legs and continue to sink into them.

Roll Your Shoulders Down / Open

You will hear this in a lot of standing poses -, especially mountain pose.

It’s the same as lengthening except this time your yoga instructor is telling you to open up your chest by rolling your shoulders down.

This is a great cue as well in downward dog. To spread your shoulders back. It releases the traps that tend to tense up in the pose and makes it easier to push back into the pose.

Want to learn how to perfect your downward dog? Check out this post.


A Yogi is a person who practices yoga. So, if you practice yoga, consider yourself a yogi.

When You Are Ready / On Your Next Breath

When you hear this cue, on your next breath, it means you will be transitioning between pose.

You will hear these during the cooldown of your practice when the focus is on the longer, deeper stretches.

It means take your time transitioning but over the next couple of breaths you should end up at the next pose.

Warrior 2 Cues

yoga terms definitionsI broke down this one by the pose. Warrior 2 is a great pose for strength but there are a lot of minor adjustments that need to be made at the start of this pose to make sure you are correct in line.

Looking over your middle finger – when your arms are up, you want to be gazing just over your middle finger.

Hips tucked under ribs & in line – In this pose, it’s easy to curve the lower of your back (to make the pose easier) so, you want to make sure that you have your tailbone tucked in and that the top half of your body is directly over your hips.

See your big toe – This is the biggest one. You want to make sure that your knee isn’t falling inwards and to do so make sure that you can always see your big toe.

Pulling the mat apart with your heels – This is to remind you to keep your legs active and engaged. I would say that this is the most challenging as you already are feeling the burn from the pose already.

yoga terms

Even in writing this Yoga Terms Definitions, I have made notes on my posture while sitting at the computer and focused more on my breathing.

It’s amazing how subtle tweaks and movements completely change how our body feels. Focusing a bit more on the posture allows you to breathe deeper and helps your back feel better and focusing on your breath can bring you more length and openness.

Thank you for taking the time to check out some Yoga terms definitions. I hope to have done you well!

I would love to hear from you, so drop me a comment and we can chat!






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8 Responses

  1. Ellen says:

    Thank you for defining some of these terms. I have to admit to feeling a bit intimidated by yoga and trying to practice it. I took a class and had a difficult time keeping up with everyone. I would also like to know how to pronounce some of these names.

    • Kahlua Gordin says:

      Hi Ellen,

      Absolutely it can be intimidating going into something new.

      I wouldn’t give up yet though. It could have been the class you went to was a faster pace.

      What pronunciations would you like? I can do my best to sound it out for you!

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this post! I have been working on getting fit, and I have heard these terms during the yoga portion of my exercises. I never knew what they really meant, so reading this post has helped me gain and understanding of what I’m suppose to do. It also helps me to know what kind of adjustments I need to make during the positions you have mentioned.

    • Kahlua Gordin says:

      Hey Amanda,

      Cheers & thanks for the comment. I am happy to have been able to help you in your classes in understanding what your instructor wants from you.

      It’s crazy how a minor adjustment completely changes the feel of the pose!


  3. Boby says:

    I think I tried the Warrior 2 Cues a couple of times before…
    I can see now that I’ve been doing it all wrong!
    So much to learn from your article – a great piece of content!
    Keep up the good work, I’ll be using it to better myself.
    Thanks for sharing that!

    • Kahlua Gordin says:

      Hi Boby,

      Warrior 2 is a challenging pose. There is a lot going on in even the simplest stance. Just keep trying to work on the pose and it will work for you!

      Thanks for the kind words,

  4. Tina Louise says:

    What a fantastic post !! Thanks for sharing . I am a beginner, so I was thrilled to see your section on ‘beginners’. The terms helped me gain some understanding ,so thanks for that.

    • Kahlua Gordin says:

      Hi Tina,

      Thank you for the comment.

      I am happy to have been able to help you out! Let me know how your yoga journey goes!


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