What does "centered" mean? Some New Age-y thing?

I heard a person on the radio who identified herself as a yoga instructor (I think it was an ad for something) saying how yoga makes you more “centered.” What in the world does that mean? What is in the center of what? (I took a yoga class once and the patter seems filled with phrases that sound very ethereal but have no actual meaning. You know, getting rid of negative energy, etc.)

It means you are closer to the center of a range of volatility.

Centered = More in tune with your existence, it is being in the ‘sweet spot’ of self awareness. Related to ‘sentient’

That is contrasted to the new agey term ‘grounded’ which is connection to your environment.

My thoughts are as follows…

It loosly means a sense of balance for your life or balance inside of yourself (like your emotions, your mind, your total inner alignment… inner balance). It is the ability to not have the events of life “throw you off center” or “throw you off balance.”

If you think about it, one of the keys to physical balance is to center your weight over your base. Body alignment comes therefore into play, as well as the stability of where you are trying to balance (balancing on a flat floor versus on loose rocks on the side of a windy mountain). So centering, alignment, balance, and the events of your life (where are you putting your base?) are related.

Not really a nitpick, but I have never seen it used as the ability to resist being thrown off center, just the current state of being centered. YMMV.

That’s exactly how I’ve always interpreted it. I’m not into these kinds of things, but I can’t see how else one would interpret it. It just refers to some kind of “inner balance.”

It’s one of those concepts perhaps best articulated through body language. When I speak of being centered (and it’s often used in conjunction with “grounded,” as in “grounded and centered”) I mean that I am calm, cool, collected and ready for whatever comes next.

Think for a moment of how you hold your body when you’ve been crying for a while and you’re slowing down. You blow your nose, you take a deep breath, and then, if you’re like most people, you bring your hands together in front of you as you exhale deeply. Some clasp fingers, some make a prayer point, but it’s really, really common to see people literally bring their hands to center as they exhale, moving their shoulders down and centered, as well. We (almost) all do it, starting as little kids. It’s reorganizing our neural input and quieting ourselves down. It’s self-swaddling without the cloths.

It’s actually pretty literal.

Grounding is a little more woo in my circle, and has to do with connecting your energetic body to the earth’s energy as we perceive it. Esoterically, I allow excess nervous or unproductive energy to move into the earth out of my body, and allow clean productive energy to move into my body from the earth. But the physical part of it is a lowering of the center of gravity, although that happens unconsciously for some. It makes you literally more difficult to knock over.

My impression is it means your emotions have an internal rather than an external locus. You are less phased by external events. The opposite would be someone who gets swept up and overwhelmed in whatever is going on around them.

I assumed it to mean that the person is so extremely self-satisfied that they feel they are the ‘centre’ (center) of the universe.

No. From Merriam-Webster:

Look again yes, in your two quotes, ‘center point of a circle’ and ‘to perceive, feel’ both fit. And the definition I get through google is:
adjective: sentient

able to perceive or feel things.

Centered is related to the state of being sentient.

Only in your imagination. They come from two different roots, and they mean two different things.

While yoga instructors do often like the more spiritual idea of centered, it’s possible she simply meant that yoga will help you physically center yourself: learn how to stand with your weight evenly distributed and your feet spread appropriately apart, neither pronating or supinating your hips, shoulders level and neither too far forward nor too far back and so on.

Are there any yoga sites out there that are pretty much woo-free?

I was not talking about the roots of the word, sorry if you took it as such, just its relationship to a state of being - basically a state related to self awareness.

And I was talking about what the two words mean to everyone else in the world.

But perhaps I am being too harsh here. What is your definition of “sentient”?

I too am guilty of this many times, part of the human condition and overly understanding mods.

This is the definition that I looked up before I posted it:

To me this has also to do with our state of self awareness, our being human, that state we define as self awareness and in the case of new age term ‘centered’ meaning being in that state of self awareness. Yes I know that was a awkward statement.

My current religion is Gardening, but I lived in a Buddhist school for several years after High School. Being centered seems to mean something different to everybody who says it, but as a basic part of Buddhist practice it is breathing from the solar plexus and quietly following the breath with your consciousness into your nose and all the way to your center 2 inches below the navel. The breath doesn’t go that far but your feeling does, it is an exercise pointed towards experiencing the world without a lot of noise from the brain. Try to sit and listen to your breath and not let your brain form words. It’s hard! Then try keeping weeds out of your garden on the Blackland Prairie. Harder!