You know the moment, everything is going fine in your yoga class and then your teacher says something that makes absolutely no sense. It can catch you completely off guard and ruin an otherwise good class. Yoga teachers sometimes forget that words and phrases that seem basic to us may mean nothing to one of our students. This isn’t an in-depth discussion of these phrases but rather a brief overview so that these sayings don’t disrupt your flow.
1 Ujjayi (oo-jai-ee) breath
This is a breath technique sometimes called “oceanic breath.” This technique utilizes a slight constriction in the throat (like when you try to fog up a window) which can help extend the length of an inhale and exhale. It is useful when trying to connect one breath to one movement, as in a vinyasa practice. Also, when you are able to extend your exhale longer than your inhale it creates a relaxation response in the body. Since Ujjayi breath makes it easer to control length of breath it can also help a practitioner relax in their practice.
2 Bandhas (bon-das)
This word can have multiple meanings. Bandhas can refer to specific breath practices where you seal or lock the breath. It also refers to specific energy centers located in the body. There are thousands of Bandhas (energy centers) but five in particular that are commonly talked about; Pada Bandha (feet), Mula Bandha (pelvic floor region), Uddiyana Bandha (solar plexus region), Hasta Banda (hands and heart), Jalandhara Bandha (neck, throat). If an instructor is referring to bandhas as a breath practice they will almost always teach the practice. Commonly when a teacher refers to a bandha in a western asana class they want their students to engage the muscles in those regions.
3 Asana (ah-sah-nah)
Asana refers to the physical practice of yoga. It also means pose. An asana practice is a physical yoga practice. Most western yoga utilizes asana extensively.
4 Root Down
When a teacher says this they want you to engage the lower half of your body (feet or core stabilizing muscles) in order to create stability in a pose. This is most often said while in sitting or balancing postures.
5 Sit(s) Bones
Your butt, the area of the body you sit on. It may sometimes refer to the actual pelvic bones in that area but is most often used as general phrase to describe the booty region. I hear this confuses a lot of people and I think teachers have taken to saying it to avoid the awkwardness that sometimes arises when they reference the “glute” region.
Don’t let the yogi talk keep you from class. There are a lot of sayings in yoga, let me know if there are any you have questions about and I will do a follow up post.
Love and light,