Last Updated: April 10, 2019

Definition - What does Sufi mean?

Sufi is the name given to a Muslim mystic or ascetic who is a practitioner of Sufism. The name is derived from the Arabic term, safa, meaning "purity." Sufism can be defined as the inner-most mystical workings of the Islam faith. A Sufi will likely meet for spiritual sessions and strive for ihsan, which is a Muslim term meaning "perfection of worship"; thus, Sufis focus on the purification of the inner soul in order to directly experience God.

In yoga, Sufi is associated with healing poses known as Sufi grinds, which are often used to mitigate the pains associated with endometriosis and general pelvic pain. This yoga pose requires opening the hips and bringing the mind into focus.

Yogapedia explains Sufi

In addition to the name of the yoga poses known as Sufi grinds, some yogis have also drawn connections between Sufism and yoga and postulated possible historical links between the two schools.

Although Sufism is widely accepted as originating in Islam and the teachings of the Qu’ran, there are some commonalities between Sufi and yogic practices. For example, Sufis may engage in breathing exercises and meditation practices. Some Sufi texts make reference to yoga, and it is possible that some yogic influences may have been integrated into existing Sufi practices.

Some scholars have also drawn parallels between the experiences of Sufis and yogis, and recognized that while yogic and Islam teachings on the nature of the body and spirit are different, some of the spiritual aspects of the two practices may be similar. For example, Sufis describe a spiritual experience as an “unveiling,” which could be seen as akin to the yogic experience of connecting with the inner self, as the illusions of the ego fall away.

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