Clarity: Clarify Yoga Terminology: Beginners: Clarity

Being thoughtful in how you use yoga terminology will help beginners to understand and retain what is being taught, and to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Be Mindful of Yoga-Speak

  • Be mindful of everything from “hug the muscles to the bone” to “puff the kidneys.”
  • While lyrical phrasing and visual imagery can be extremely impactful, we’re suggesting mindfulness when teaching beginners so as to avoid confusion.
  • As appropriate, be prepared to add or substitute more literal instructions and/or demonstration of the action you’re looking for.

Explain Anatomical Terminology

  • Even such terms as “thoracic spine” or “femur” are outside the everyday vocabulary of most people.
  • We are not suggesting you avoid using anatomical terminology but rather that when you do, define and demonstrate your point.

Explain & Translate Sanskrit

  • Whether teachers use Sanskrit when teaching is a personal decision based on experience, lineage and style.
  • Utilizing Sanskrit as a way of conveying the history and lineage of yoga can be appropriate for beginners in some situations.
  • But when using Sanskrit with beginners, we invite you to examine your approach for any potential to be perceived as exclusionary or confusing. You might choose to give a very brief intro into Sanskrit and the reason you use it.
  • Immediately translate Sanskrit phrases into the student’s home language.

Use Caution with Energy-Oriented Terms

  • You may wish to hold off on teachings about nadischakras and the energetic effects of various asana.
  • We aren’t advocating you make your verbiage dry. In fact, for some students it’s likely that they are moved by imagery related to the earth, foundation, letting go, releasing and more.
  • Rather, we are pointing out the potential of alienating students who have yet to have their own experience with the energy of poses. Until they have personal experience from which to explore such concepts, your speaking to such topics could perhaps be intriguing but it also might be confusing or create mistrust.
  • But, of course, it’s always appropriate to invite students to notice what is true for them while also introducing and leading them to investigate particular aspects of their experience.