Common Sanskrit Translations

Have you ever wondered what your yoga teacher was saying when she/he spouted those strange sounding words? Have you ever wondered what those pose names mean?

Here are some of the more common Sanskrit words translated. Do the poses make a little more sense now? Knowing a few root words make it much easier to understand your yoga practice.

Adho-mukha — Face downward

Ardha — Half

Asana — Posture – third stage of yoga

Astavakra — Broken boy

Aum — All, conveys concepts of “omniscience”, “omnipresence”, & “omnipotence”

Baddha — Bound, caught, restrained, firm

Baka — Crane

Bandha — Bondage or fetter, a posture where certain organs or parts of the body are contracted and controlled

Bheka — Frog

Bhuja — Arm or shoulder

Bhuja-pida — Pressure on the arm or shoulder

Bhujanga — Serpent or snake

Chandra — Moon

Chataur — 4

Danda — Staff

Dhanu — Bow

Dharana — Concentration or complete attention, sixth stage of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali

Dhyana — Meditation, seventh stage of Yoga mentioned by Patanjali

Dwi — 2, both

Dwi-hasta — 2 hands

Dwi-pada — 2 feet or legs

Eka — 1, single, alone, only

Eka-pada –1 leg

Garbha-pinda — Embryo in the womb

Garuda — Eagle

Go — Cow

Gomukha — Face resembling a cow

Hala — Plough

Hasta — Hand

Janu –Knee

Karma — Action

Karna — Ear

Karna-pida — Pressure around the ear

Kona — Eagle

Krauncha — Bird like a heron

Kriya — Cleaning process

Kukkuta — Cock

Kundalini — Divine cosmic energy

Kurma — Tortoise

Mala — Garland, wreath

Manduka — Frog

Mantra — Sacred thought or prayer

Marichi — Name of one of the sons of Brahma

Matsya — Fish

Mayura — Peacock

Mudra — Seal, sealing posture

Mukha — Face

Mukta — Liberated

Mula — Root, base

Nauli — Process in which the abdominal muscles and organs are made to move vertically and laterally in a surging motion

Nava — Boat

Pada — Foot or leg

Padangustha — Big toe

Padma — Lotus

Parivartana — Turning around, revolved

Parivrtta — Turned around, revolved

Parivrttaika-pada — With one leg turned around

Parsva — Side, flank, lateral

Parsvaika-pada — With one leg turned sideways

Paschima — West, the back side of the body

Paschimottana  — Intense stretch of the back side of the body from the nape to the heels

Patanjali — Propounder of Yoga philosophy, author of the Yoga Sturas

Pida — Pain, suffering, pressure

Pincha — Chin, feather

Pinda — Fetus or embryo, the body

Prana — Breath, respiration, life, vitality, wind, energy, strength, also connotes the soul

Prasarita — Spread out, stretched out

Pratyahara — Withdrawl and emancipation of the mind from the domination of the senses and sensual objects, fifth stage of yoga

Purva — East, front of the body

Purvottana — Intense stretch of the front side of the body

Raja — King, ruler

Raja-kapota — King pigeon

Salabha — Locust

Salamba — With support

Sama — Same, equal, even, upright

Sama-sthiti — Standing still and straight

Sarva — All, whole

Sarvanga — Whole body

Sava — Corpse, dead body

Setu — Bridge

Setu-bandha — Construction of a bridge

Sirsa — Head

Supta — Sleeping

Surya — Sun

Sva — One’s own, innate, vial force, soul, self

Svana — Dog

Tada — Mountain

Tap — Burn, blaze, shine, suffer pain, be consumed by heat

Tapas — Burning effort which involves purification, self-discipline and austerity

Tittibha — Firefly

Tola — Balance

Tri — 3

Trianga — 3 limbs

Trikona – Triangle

Uddiyana — Fetter or bondage, diaphragm is lifted high up the thorax and the abdominal organs are pulled back towards the spine

Ujjayi — Type of pranayama in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest is puffed out

Upavistha — Seated

Urdhva — Raised, elevated, tending upwards

Urdhva-mukha — Face upwards

Ustra — Camel

Utkata — Powerful, fierce

Uttana — Intense stretch

Utthita — Raised up, extended, stretched

Vakra — Crooked

Viparita — Inverted, reversed

Vira — Hero, brave

Virabhadra — Powerful hero

Vrksa — Tree

Vrschika — Scorpion

Yoga — Union, communion, union of our will to the will of the Supreme Spirit

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Help for Your Hands

Are your hands/wrists aching from being on the computer or texting too much?  Is plank or your vinyasa yoga practice leaving you in pain? Do you suffer from “claw hand”? This rolling technique gives immediate relief and is perfect for the office. If you don’t have any massage balls, get some tennis balls and toss them in a sock. It won’t be as good but something is better than nothing!

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My Go-To Pose for Stress Relief – Psoas Stretch

Aattaching to the spine at the 12th thoracic vertebrae (T12) and to each of the 5 lumbar vertebrae, the Psoas muscles flow through the pelvis and insert into the lesser trocantor (inside) of the femur (leg) bone. A large muscle located one on each side of the spine, they connect the trunk and the legs. The psoas is the only muscle to attach the spine to the leg allowing for free swing during walking thus impacting your hips, pelvis, knees, spine, ribs, shoulder blades, and shoulders so it’s important to care for them.

Its’ relationship to the diaphragm affects the breath and as part of the fear reflex – a sense of emotional well-being.  The Psoas muscles are considered the “fight or flight” muscles by Liz Koch, author of Core Awareness.  She says, “the Psoas is the primal messenger of the central nervous system.” When these muscles are tight, the body naturally curls in towards a fetal position keeping you in a feeling of stress. Consequently, when you feel stress, the psoas tighten. It causes a vicious cycle. Relax your psoas muscles and the angsty feelings starts to dissolve.

This Psoas stretch is my current favorite pose! It makes everything better. It relieves stress, allows my body (and mind and spirit) to unwind, and preps it for yoga. I’m amazed at the difference in my body during yoga class after I practice this pose.

Every day for this psoas stretch! Before switching sides, notice the difference. We often don’t realize how much stress we carry. It becomes second nature to us but when you can feel the difference after releasing one side, well, why wouldn’t you want that for both sides all the time?!

Enjoy this, my stressed yogis. Hugs to you all ~

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Words of Love

These words have been with me since I was in my late teens. I say them to myself before I go to bed. They have brought me immense comfort in bad times and continue to lift my heart in good times.

I hope they mean as much to you. Do you have any special words, quotes, mantras?


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Roll & Release – Shoulder Blades / Upper Back

Stress tries to make a home in our upper backs. Grab your massage balls and roll those achey knots right out of there! Give stress the boot!


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Shoulder Stretch and Reset for Anyone & Anywhere

Tight shoulders getting you down. Take a few breaths in this easy stretch to counteract slouchasana! It’s incredibly easy to practice anywhere. Your coworkers won’t even realize that you’re a super yogi in disguise! 😉

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Stacking Your Joints or How Does Your Stance Stack Up?

When we learned how to stand and walk, people really only cared about us not falling which was definitely very important.  It was a great start but it was only a start. If only we all had a governess to teach us proper posture. I’m picturing Mary Poppins complete with the umbrella and bag of tricks. Then again, I don’t know how great that posture was from a biomechanics point of view but how great would it have been to have Mary Poppins teaching you about life?

I digress.

Learn the basics of standing. Stack your joints. Avoid the gymnastics dismount. Remember posture and mood are linked so watch the video and be happy, yogis. You too, non-yogis. (By the way, we’re all yogis, regardless of flexibility or amount of lycra in your wardrobe.)


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Lessen Neck and Head Stress

Texting, working on the computer, poor posture, stress, and even gravity can all contribute to strain in the neck, shoulders and head. Those migraines need you to loosen the strain!

Using your YTU Therapy Ball at the Mastoid Process will help loosen that strain greatly!  This simple technique can easily be done almost anywhere, even at work – not that any stress happens there! 😉

(Don’t have YTU Therapy Balls yet?  Better get some soon but until then try a child’s ball or at the least a tennis ball. Stay away from anything harder. Trust me.)

Let me know what you think.

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When Pain Comes to Town

I felt the possible beginning of a fibromyalgia flare last week. I couldn’t quite describe what was going on in my body but I knew it was waiting for me, if I messed up. If I did something slightly wrong. If I gave the fibro an opening, it was going to be on me like white on rice.

I had a long business meeting on Monday. On the drive home, I felt it starting. I’m trying to describe how I know when it’s hitting and the best I can do is that I feel a veil start to descend on me. My body feels different. I start to get really sensitive. My brain works different. I have trouble connecting thoughts and even thinking. I can’t focus.

I called my husband to let him know what was happening. He asked what we could do to help. I couldn’t think of anything. Luckily, he’s been through this before with me and he asked if a epsom salt bath would help. Of course it would. How did I not think of that?  It’s so simple and obvious.

That’s the point though. Obvious and simple don’t happen when you’re in pain. When pain comes to town, Pain (yes, capital P) takes over.

I made it home and had to head out quickly to teach one last class.  When I got in the car after teaching the class, I couldn’t think clearly. My brain shuts down when a flare hits. I know that sounds weird but I truly can’t. I was sitting in my car almost crying. It wasn’t pain per se. It was a feeling of being trampled and just done. It took me quite awhile before I could even attempt to drive home but finally I did.

My skin was so sensitive by this point that I all I could do was go upstairs to bed and get into my pjs. I had to change because my top was form fitting and anything that was tight hurt. I took off my jewelry because that hurt too. I even took off my rings. Heck, I couldn’t even wear underwear. I curled up in bed.

The fibro set off my hypersensitivity. Light hurt. Noise hurt. The dog being next to me felt good but if she leaned on me, it hurt. Chewing hurt and even swallowing exhausted me.

I stayed in bed from 8 pm till 10:30 the next day. I only got out of bed when I felt stronger.

Here’s the thing – when pain comes to town, you need to be kind to yourself. (There are many things you can do after the pain, save that stuff for after the pain.  Pain hurts and nothing else matters until the pain loosens its grip on you.) In case you missed it, when pain comes to town, you need to be kind to yourself. That may mean different things to different people.

Here are some basics though.

  • Don’t beat yourself up. Stop trying to assign blame. It’s not your fault. Deal with the here and now. It hurts so what can I do to make it stop hurting. What can I do to help?
  • Get rest. Sleep would be great but don’t underestimate the power of resting – even if it’s at your desk, or car, or any other place.
  • Drink water. Hydration helps everything.
  • Eat to support your health and if you can’t do that, choose the least bad option.
  • Surround yourself with people who understand. You don’t need to explain yourself right now.  There are great support groups for almost everything on-line. FB was one of my go to for years.
  • Be kind. I know that kind of goes with don’t beat yourself up but it bears repeating.
  • Focus on your breathing. Short and shallow breaths may come naturally to you now, but the deeper belly breathing will relax you. Remember though, anything is better than nothing.
  • Epsom salt baths help me greatly. Warm, not hot water, is incredibly soothing if your body hurts. If you don’t like baths, a warm shower. Having said that, sometimes it hurts too much to think about moving. That’s when I do this next one.
  • Visualize. It’s New Agey, I know, but bear with me for a minute. Imagine what it would feel like if you could, soak in a pristinely clean, perfect temperature, jets aimed exactly where you need them and at the perfect intensity epsom salt bath. If that image doesn’t work for you, pick one that does. The point is that just by imagining it, our body starts to relax.

These are just my suggestions. You may have more. That’s great!  Let me know what they are in the comments.

I stopped beating myself up. I stopped fighting, forcing my body to what it couldn’t. I did what I felt my body needed – quiet, sleep, stillness, kindness.

On Monday, Pain came to town. Today is Thursday and pain (with a lower case p now) is out the door!

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7 Days – Life Lessons Learned in Mexico

IMG_4151The sun rises and sets every day. Every day it’s a work of art. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. Awe inspiring.

Have you sat and just watched it?  Have you watched the sky above mountains go from pitch black to blue and red and eventually day? Have you watched a glowing sun disappear beyond the horizon and then watched as the whole sky got caught in its afterglow?

Have you looked at the sky when there aren’t any city lights nearby? Watched a moon so close you felt you could touch it?

Every day regardless of what we do or don’t do, the sun rises and sets gloriously. There’s nothing we need to do or not to help it. It just happens.

You quickly realize how insignificant most of our everyday thoughts are.  Beauty like this it minimizes everything else.

It turns out I’m really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on. Sun rise, sun set like the Fiddler says.

Yet I’m all powerful because I decide the thoughts and voices in my head. I decide for me – that’s big. What do I want to be my focus? What do I want to fill myself with? I’m in charge of that and I can turn off the negativity, the fear, the jealousy. I can focus on what is truly important in the larger picture. Beauty. Love. Ease.

I needed to get away from everything though to figure this out. I needed to let go of the daily worries, stressors, habits.

I basked in the beauty of the sun, of a twice daily yoga practice, in a delicious and supportive diet. I connected to nature, the sunrises & sunsets, the whales, the wild horses, the clanging of the cowbells as they sauntered by us, to the beautiful yogis who grew stronger in body and spirit every day, and to myself as I grew stronger and more peaceful every day.

Sunset at Prana del Mar 2015I learned to take every day as it comes. I learned to be ready for anything. I learned to listen to myself. I learned to love and live fully. I learned more than words can say in 7 days. I keep practicing what I learned – I can’t wait to see what I learn next.



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