If you are relatively new you might have been to a yoga class where it was not only physically hard but you were also left wondering what on earth the teacher was saying. That will have been Sanskrit.
This Indian dialogue is used to define and describe yoga poses and the different elements of the practice. Some teachers love it and some teachers don’t use it so much.
It isn’t essential however sometimes when your new to yoga and the studio uses a lot of Sanskrit words it can all seem pretty alien – learning the lingo can take away that perceived barrier and help you relax into your practice. Whilst I don’t actually use it that much I do think it is quite nice to treasure that connection to the ancient practice as we stand in our shiny yoga studios and fancy yoga wear? What do you think?
As teachers we often use the western terms just to help you guys out as students so you’re not worried or anxious about what you’re being asked to do. You can just continue to move and breathe. The names don’t change the shape and therefor you could argue they don’t alter nor validate the practice, but I want to share a few postures and their names that might make you think a little more of their desired effect.
Sukhasana: ‘Easy Seat’
Sukha = Pleasure, Asana = Posture
Here we feel happy from head to toe. It is a pose that encapsulates the feelings we want to take away from our yoga practice; grounded and steady in the present moment whilst being uplifted by, and open to the possibilities around us. If we watch children when they happy and relaxed, engaged and focused they naturally come into this easy cross legged seat. Think of small children gathering around a teacher in school to listen and learn.
Virabhadrasana II: ‘Warrior 2’
Virabhadra = Fearless Warrior/ Asana = Posture
Virabhadra was said to have defeated their enemies on the battlefield with a thousand arms, so here we are trying to visually recreate that and channel our physical strength and determination. This can be reflected into our everyday life through yoga. We can address the challenges we are facing and using warrior like strength and determination we can persevere.
Tadasana or Samasthiti: ‘Mountain Pose’
Tada = Mountain, Sama = Upright & Unmoved / ‘Sthiti’ = Standing still in steadiness
We are replicating the stillness, strength and power of a mountain. We typically stand with compensation and imbalance. However by standing here with awareness we engage our thighs and core, our weight is then distributed evenly and we create a lightness in the body that allows agility in the mind.
Balasana: ‘Childs Pose’
Bala = Child / Asana = Posture
As children we seek comfort and security without awareness of the disruptions around us – that is what we recreate here. We are surrendering down to the earth, letting go of everything else and bringing ourself back to a safe place of rest.
Savasana: ‘Corpse Pose’
Sava = Corpse / Asana = Posture
Encouraging the body to be awake yet totally still and rested, at ease in body and mind. Ultimately taking away the pressures of life and all its external troubles so that we are able to reconnect with ourselves and be settled. This stillness is meant to encourage union. And remember the Sanskrit word yoga translates to union, so closing our practice here really does complete the circle.
Does that help you see how a little Sanskrit could actually help you deepen your practice?
I will design a sequence for our online classes with an emphasis on some of the Sanskrit words and their meaning. It will be recorded out in Morzine so ready for the start of February 202o!