Namaste, Sanskrit: A Yogi’s Guide to Incorporating Sanskrit in Teaching

Hello, hello, hello yogis! As yoga teachers, we are often faced with the challenge of incorporating Sanskrit words in our teaching. Fear not, as we have a comprehensive guide on how to progressively develop this capability to impress your students and deepen your knowledge of yoga.

The objective of this lesson is to equip yoga teachers with the necessary practice tips to confidently use Sanskrit in teaching. 

Description: Incorporating Sanskrit in our teaching can be intimidating at first, but with enough practice and familiarity, it can enhance the authenticity of our classes and honor the rich history of yoga. In this article, we will provide you with practice strategies, tips, and resources to maximize study and teaching effectiveness in regard to the use of Sanskrit.

Pronunciation: Before using Sanskrit in your teaching, it is crucial to practice the pronunciation out loud. To enhance your skills, practice the two pronunciations for five Sanskrit vowels/vowel combinations. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel when using Sanskrit with your students.

Basics: Sanskrit vowels have two pronunciations: short and long. For instance, the word ásana in Sanskrit has a bar over the first a, and not over the second and third. Here are some examples of how to pronounce Sanskrit vowels:

  • a — “uh” (as in “another”). á —”ahhh” (as in father but with 2 beats)
  • i — “i” (as in “pin”). í — “eee” (as in need but with 2 beats)
  • u — “ooh” (as in “flute” while others say it’s pronounced as in “put”)
  • ú — “ooooh” (as in “mood” with 2 beats)
  • e — “ay” (2 beats)
  • —”oh” (2 beats)
  • ai — “aisle” (2 beats)
  • au — “ow” (2 beats)

Learn the Components of Pose Names: To effectively use Sanskrit in teaching, it is essential to learn the common Sanskrit words that form the components of pose names, such as asana (seat/pose), supta (supine), kona (angle), and others. You can find these common Sanskrit words in Nina Zolotow’s article “My Tips for Learning Sanskrit Pose Names.”

Using Sanskrit in Class: The most crucial tip for using Sanskrit in class is to use it! It honors the tradition of yoga and shows your authentic and humble desire to share it with your students. When using Sanskrit terms in your teaching, it’s best to say the term and follow it with the English translation. This allows for all students to understand what you are saying, whether or not they are familiar with Sanskrit.

In conclusion, incorporating Sanskrit in our teaching can enhance our authenticity as yoga teachers and honor the rich history of yoga. With enough practice and familiarity, it can be a valuable tool to deepen our students’ knowledge of yoga. Remember to stay authentic, humble, and confident in your practice. Namaste yogis!

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