Yoga is a centuries old practice with a rich philosophy steeped in the ancient language of Sanskrit. A language once rarely spoken by people in everyday life, Sanskrit is being revived in India such that over 14,000 people currently consider it to be their native language. For the most part, however, Sanskrit is considered to be a sacred language and is reserved for use by those who seek to understand the deeper philosophy of yoga and Indian culture.
While modern yoga has lost some of its integration with the Sanskrit language, you have heard some Sankrit in class. Every yoga posture has a Sanskrit name, and many teachers choose to use these names, often alongside the English name. For example, Trikonasana is Triangle Pose. Sound familiar? Savasana is Corpse Pose. Then there is pranayama, the breath practice, and asana, the postures.
If you have any experience with mantra, or chanting, you have delved even further into the Sanskrit language. Each syllable of Sanskrit holds its own vibration, and when sounded out, the person chanting absorbs that vibration. Chanting ‘om,’ for example, instills a sense of peace that helps us to find our center. You may have already felt this yourself.
In a similar way, each Sanskrit word has a deeper meaning that is linked to the many ancient myths of India. Over the next few months in this series, we will highlight different yoga postures and discuss the myths that surround each one so that you can experience your yoga practice in a more comprehensive way.