Namaste Dear Friends
Lovely to join you all as we approach Autumn………I’m hoping you have all had a warm and glorious summertime both on and off your mat!
This month I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips to understand Sanskrit.
Due to yoga’s origins it is often taught using words and terms from the ancient eastern language of Sanskrit. Yoga was first practised by the Vedic civilisation around 5,000 years ago, so all early texts and scriptures were written in Sanskrit. As yoga grows in popularity the use of some Sanskrit words such as posture names are slowly becoming more common.
There are no expectations for anyone to develop a Sanskrit vocabulary. Yoga is about the way you practice, the wonderful benefits enjoyed and the fabulous energy that it brings not necessarily the words used. However, as with all aspects of yoga, as you move more deeply into the practice, everything evolves.
Here are a few tips to help with some of the popular terms and posture names used:
YOGA translates to mean join, union or coming together. It comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Yuj’ to ‘Yoke’.
AUM often pronounced as OM – when chanted the three vowel sounds of A U M are created, after chanting it is usual to acknowledge the moment of silence and sit with the effects of the sound as it resonates within you.
Om is extremely complex to translate, it is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga practices. It is known as a seed sound and regarded as the sound of the universe and of all creation, if everything was to be put together as one.
NAMASTE – has a complex translation too and is regarded as a very respectful greeting or way of thanking someone. ‘The divine in me bows to the divine in you’ is a brief translation that captures the essence.
Yoga postures can fall into one of the following groups – body parts, alignments, animals, plants, objects, sensations, ancient sages and numbers.
A few examples:
BODY PARTS – Janu – Knee, Janu Sirsasana – Head to Knee, Sirsa – Head, Sirsasana – Headstand, Pada – Foot, Pada Hastasana – Standing Forward Bend, Parsva – Side, Parsvakonasana – Side Angle Pose.
ALIGNMENTS – Adho – Face down – Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog, Baddha – Bound, Baddha Konasana – Bound Angle Pose, Kona – Angle, Trikonasana – Triangle, Paschima – West Side or Back Side, Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Bend *, Purva – East Side or Front Side, Purvottanasana – Inclined Plane * , Prasarita – Spread Wide – Prasarita Podottanasana – Wide Leg Standing Forward Bend, Urdva – Face Up, Urdva Mukha Svanasana – Upward Facing Dog.
*Yoga was originally practised facing the sun so the front of the body is often referred to as the East and the back the West.
ANIMALS – Baka – Crow, Bakasana – Crow Pose, Bhujanga – Serpent – Bhujangasana -Cobra, Matsya – Fish, Matsyasana – Fish Pose, Svana – dog, Svanasana – Dog Pose, Ustra – Camel, Ustrasana – Camel Pose.
PLANTS – Padma – Lotus, Padmasana – Lotus Pose, Vrksa – Tree, Vrksasana – Tree Pose.
OBJECTS – Chandra – Moon, Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon Pose, Danda – Staff, Dandasana – Staff Pose, Hala – Plough, Halasana – Plough Pose, Surya – Sun, Surya Namaskar. – Sun Salutation, Tada – Mountain, Tadasana – Mountain Pose.
SENSATIONS – Sukha – Easy, Sukhasana – Easy Pose, Utka – Fierce, Utkatasana – Fierce Pose or the Chair.
NUMBERS – Ardha – Half, Ardha Chandrasana – Half Moon, Eka – One, Eka Pada Uttanpadasana – One Leg Raised, Dwi – Two, Dwi Pada Uttanpadasana – Two Legs Raised, Tri – Three, Trikonasana – Triangle or Three Angles Pose. Chatur – Four, Chaturanga Dandasana – Four Limbed Staff.
I hope this has been helpful, Sanskrit is indeed a beautiful language.
I have started a new beginners class for anyone interested. Please be in touch via website or mobile for more information.
News soon of upcoming workshops and suggestions for an Autumnal Practice.
……Om Mitraya Namah
I pray to Sun who is a friend of Mankind. The Sun is intimate and dear to us all.
Breathe in………pause……..Breathe Out……..pause……..
Yoga Blessings to you all as you continue with your practice.
All photos © Debbie Harris, 2up Photography