B Wisdom, a Bala series in which we explore wisdom for the modern yogi. This month, we are covering an intro to Sanskrit with Jennifer Isaacson.
Sanskrit, like Latin, is kept alive by those wanting to learn. It’s another language which builds its words through blocks. As your practice unfolds, so does a new language. Many are drawn to yoga because it touches all the senses, speaks to different learning styles, and leaves a feeling that lasts. For kinesthetic learners, it’s the perfect environment to absorb new information.
I spent years teaching yoga in Bali and Mexico where Sanskrit was often our common language. Had my teachers not stressed the importance of learning yoga in its mother tongue, I wouldn’t have been able to do my job. We share the responsibility as students of yoga to call the poses by their given names so we can practice with less confusion.
Where to begin? Repetition. Practice regularly and say the words back to yourself. Find teachers who not only give what you want, but also stretch you into what you need.
Here are a few Sanskrit terms to get you started.
ROOT: Himsa = Violence
TERM: Ahimsa = Nonviolence
ROOT: Prana = Energy
ROOT: Yama = Control
TERM: Pranayama = Breath control
ROOT: Namaskar = Bow to or adore
ROOT: Te = You
ROOT: Namaste = Bow to you
ROOT: Surya = Sun
TERM: Surya Namaskar = Bowing to the sun/Sun Salutations
ROOT: Tri = Three
ROOT: Kona = Angle
ROOT: Asana = Seat
TERM: Trikonasana = Triangle Pose
ROOT: Pada = Foot
ROOT: Hastan = Hand
ROOT: Padahastasana = Feet on hands pose