A Definitive Guide to All the Yoga Terminology You Don't Know

You know the benefits of yoga are endless: Increased flexibility and strength, improved respiration, improved energy and sleep. It even helps with stress reduction and has been proven to be an effective tool for depression, addiction recovery and other anxiety-related disorders.

That’s probably why you finally worked up the courage to try a yoga class or find one of those awesome online videos that gives you some intro moves for free.

And as if getting sweaty and bendy in leggings in a room filled with strangers wasn’t intimidating enough, yoga classes do mean you might want to learn a bit more about the language of yoga. Like, what exactly is a Downward Dog? What are Sun Salutations, and why do you need to do them? How do they help your body get fit and help your mind find some Zen? What is a chakra? What are the various breathing practices and where do they come from? These are all completely normal questions to have — and you don’t have to be embarrassed of everything you don’t know yet!

To help break it down, we reached out to Tracee Dolan, a yoga instructor at Privé Swiss Fitness, an award-winning boutique fitness studio in Connecticut, to help answer the questions you’re likely having as a newbie yogi.

A version of this story was published June 2018.

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