Get Your Sanskrit On: The Language of Yoga

As Ashtanga yoga practitioners, we are familiar with the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses, or asanas. But have you ever wondered about the origins of this ancient language and its significance in the yoga tradition? In this post, we will explore the fascinating world of Sanskrit and its connection to our practice.

What is Sanskrit?

Sanskrit is an ancient language that originated in India over 3,000 years ago. It is considered to be the mother of all Indo-European languages and is one of the oldest languages on Earth. The word Sanskrit itself translates to “perfected,” “polished,” or “refined.” This is because Sanskrit was developed to communicate spiritual insights and was used mainly for religious and scientific discourse.

Unique Qualities of Sanskrit

Sanskrit is a highly complex language with a vast vocabulary. It is still widely used today in the reading of sacred texts and hymns. One of the unique qualities of Sanskrit is its ability to capture the complexity of our deeper nature. It includes many words for spiritual experiences and concepts that have no equivalents in other languages.

Sanskrit is also considered to be a vibrational and healing language. It originated from oral traditions and was developed to communicate spiritual insights. Nearly all Sanskrit literature is in verse, and the language is believed to have been generated by observing the natural progression of sounds created in the human mouth, thus considering sound as an important element of language formation.

Why Use Sanskrit in Your Teaching?

As yoga teachers, we have the option to use Sanskrit names for the yoga poses or to use their English equivalents. While it may seem easier to use the English names, there are several reasons why using Sanskrit can be beneficial.

Firstly, using Sanskrit can help to connect us to the ancient roots of the yoga tradition. It can also help to create a sense of community and shared understanding among Ashtanga practitioners around the world.

Using Sanskrit can also create a more authentic and traditional yoga experience for our students. By using the original names for the poses, we can honor the spiritual and cultural significance of the practice.

Tips for Using Sanskrit in Your Teaching

If you are interested in incorporating Sanskrit into your teaching, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Firstly, start with the basics. Begin by learning the Sanskrit names for the primary series poses and gradually add more as you become more comfortable.

Secondly, be mindful of pronunciation. Sanskrit has a unique set of sounds and pronunciation can be challenging for non-native speakers. Take the time to practice and seek feedback from more experienced Sanskrit speakers.

Finally, be open and honest with your students. Admit when you don’t know how to pronounce a word and be willing to learn and improve. This can create a sense of humility and authenticity in your teaching.

In Conclusion

Sanskrit is not just a language, it is a vibrational and healing language that has been used for thousands of years to communicate spiritual insights. By incorporating Sanskrit into our teaching, we can honor the ancient roots of the yoga tradition and create a more authentic and traditional experience for our students. With practice and dedication, we can all get our Sanskrit on and deepen our connection to this beautiful language.

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