What do Parivrtta and Utthita Mean? 15 Common Sanskrit Names for Yoga Poses

Sanskrit names for Yoga Poses are based around a core set of vocabulary. Learn words like Parivrtta (revolved) and Utthita (extended) and Ardha (half).

Ann Pizer | Posted in: Practice, Yoga for beginners, Yoga Practice

Yoga beginners get a lot of new information very quickly. With such a steep learning curve, it’s can be difficult to remember the English (or your native language) names of the postures and all their associated alignment details, not to mention the Sanskrit names. 

But, eventually, once you’ve heard the Sanskrit names enough times, you may start to notice that there are lots of repeated words and patterns in them. Making sense of these helps you remember the poses and gives you a deeper connection to the roots of yoga. It can also be quite helpful if you ever take classes in a foreign language while travelling. 

Many of these Sanskrit terms, which describe parts and positions of the body, will undoubtedly sound familiar. They are the building blocks of countless pose names. In the examples below, terms included this glossary are italicized so you can see how the names are built. 

Sanskrit Roots

Adho: Down

Often paired with Mukha, which means face, to indicate that a posture is inverted, or downward-looking.
Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward Facing DogDownward Facing Dog

Ardha: Half

This usually refers to going halfway toward a full pose.
Ardha Padmasana: Half LotusHalf Lotus

Asana: Pose

Almost every pose name ends with asana. Asana means seat, and as the original yoga postures were seated, it has come to mean pose. 

Baddha: Bound

Describes any pose with a bind, which usually means the arms are wrapped around another body part with the hands clasped.
Baddha Padmasana: Bound LotusBound Lotus Pose

Bandha: Lock

Something described as a bandha is sealed closed.
Hasta Bandha: The hand lock is the seal that the hands make with the floor in poses like Downward Facing Dog.Downward Facing Dog 

Eka/Ekam: One

Dwi: Two

These usually refer to whether a pose is done with one leg or two legs. If you do Ashtanga, you will also recognise these from the traditional way of counting off the postures.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana: One-Legged King Pigeon PoseOne-legged King Pigeon Pose 

Hasta: Hand

Urdhva Hastasana: Upwards Hands PoseUpwards Hands Pose

Kona: Angle

This is often used when the legs form angled shapes.
Baddha Konasana: Bound Angle (The bind here refers to the two feet pushing together for resistance)Bound Angle

Mudra: Seal

Hand gestures in which parts of the fingers and palms are sealed together for specific effects and meanings.
Anjali Mudra: Reverent SealLotus Pose

Pada: Foot/Leg

Often paired with Eka to describe poses done with one foot or leg.
Eka Pada Utkatasana: One Legged Chair PoseOne-legged Chair Pose

Parivrtta: Revolved/Rotated

Inserted in front of familiar pose names when a twist is involved.
Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana: Revolved Half Moon PoseRevolved Half Moon Pose


Parsva: Side

A posture where you are turned to one side.
Utthita Parvakonasana: Extended Side AngleExtended Side Angle

Salamba: Supported

Salamba is part of several important yoga pose names but often gets dropped when speaking casually.
Salamba Sirsasana: Supported HeadstandSupported Headstand

Sirsa: Head

Janu Sirsasana: Head to Knee PoseHead to Knee Pose

Supta: Reclined

Any pose where you are lying on your back.
Supta Padangustasana: Reclined Hand to Big Toe PoseReclined Hand to Big Toe Pose

Urdhva: Upward

A pose where the gaze is lifted upwards.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: Upward Facing DogUpward Facing Dog

Utthita: Extended, Stretched

Many postures begin with the word Utthita, but it’s sometimes left out in common usage.
Utthita Trikonasana: Extended TriangleTriangle Pose

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