How To Understand Your German Yoga Teacher

Don’t assume “downward dog” has a direct translation in German.
woman doing yoga pose outside most used german words for yoga

You finally followed through on your dream of spending the summer in Berlin. You’ve made a tenuous alliance with the guy at your local Späti, and you’re so close to finally getting into Berghain, you can taste it. But can you last through a German yoga class? Even if you’re cruising through your German lessons and are pretty much speaking at a B2 level by now, it’s unlikely you’d recognize some of the most-used German words for yoga unless you’re already a regular at the local Sunday hatha yoga class.

Yes, most of the yoga poses you’re already familiar with are already in a different language: Sanskrit. But just like many English instructors will tell you to assume happy baby pose instead of Ananda Balasana, your German instructor will probably command you with Glückliches Baby (happily, this here is a direct translation).

Lest you assume you can plug all your yoga poses into Google Translate or simply look up the words for “downward” and “dog” separately, you’ll be sorely disappointed — or just sore — when you realize that Germans sometimes call that a Dreieck, or a “triangle.”

Here is a handy glossary of some of the most used German words for yoga so that you, too, can have a smooth time moving through vinyasa. And when you’re done, make sure you’re up to speed on your body parts vocabulary too — a necessary part of understanding any German phrases for working out!

The Most Used German Words For Yoga

Bound angle pose/cobbler’s pose — geschlossene Winkelhaltung im Sitz (lit. “seated closed angle pose”)

Breathe — atmen

Child’s pose — Kindeshaltung (lit. “child’s attitude”) or Stellung des Kindes (“child’s posture”)

Cobra pose — Kobrastellung 

Dolphin pose — Delfin

Downward dog — Dreieck (lit. “triangle”) or herabschauender Hund (“downward-looking dog”) or Dachstellung (“roof position”)

Happy baby — Glückliches Baby

Eagle pose — Adlerstellung 

Easy pose — Schneidersitz (lit. “tailor sit” or “cross-legged”)

Extended side angle pose — Flankendehnung (lit. “flank stretch”)

Locust pose — Heuschreckenstellung

Mountain pose — Berghaltung

Plough pose — Pflugstellung

Revolved triangle pose — gedrehte Dreieckshaltung (lit. “rotated triangle pose”)

Seated twist pose (aka half lord of the fishes) — halber Drehsitz

Shavasana Entspannte Rückenlage (lit. “relaxed back position”)

Shoulder stand — Schulterstand or Kerze (lit. “candle”)

Side plank pose — Seitstützstellung

Sun salutation — Sonnengruß

Tree pose — Baumstellung 

Upward facing dog — Hinaufschauender Hund (lit. “dog looking up”)

Warrior pose — Heldenstellung (lit. “heroism”)

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