Sanskrit 101

Posted on: April 26th, 2016 By:
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Back in my days as a beginning yogi, I remember struggling with many poses, many variations, and often my upper-body strength. Well, let’s face it, I still struggle with these things on occasion. One thing, though, that frustrated me most of all as a beginner, was learning Sanskrit names for poses. As I became more and more advanced, there were times I took classes with an instructor that only used Sanskrit names for poses. During these classes I always had to look around the room desperately at my classmates, not knowing which pose was which. My physical knowledge of the postures advanced much quicker than my mental knowledge of posture names. Fast forward many years and now I love hearing and using the Sanskrit names for postures. It’s an aspect of my yoga practice that I had to mostly learn myself. I think it’s important for all yogi’s to have a working knowledge of Sanskrit names, not only because its helpful in a quickly flowing class, but because we owe it to this very ancient practice to use these traditional names for postures.

Here are a list of some basic postures, with their Sanskrit names, for your working knowledge and enjoyment:

Adho Mukha Svanasana Downward facing dog
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana Upward facing dog
Dandsana plank pose
Tadasana mountain pose
Trikonasana triangle pose
Uttanasana forward fold
Virabhadrasana 1, 2, or 3 Warrior 1, 2 or 3
Balasana Child’s pose
Uktasana Chair pose or “awkward” pose

One thing to note is the word asana, rooted in each posture name as asana itself means posture. Another thing to note are the Sanskrit words for half and revolved- ardha and parivrtta as they show up in other posture names often.

Lastly, to note, is perhaps the most beautiful Sanskrit word of all: “the light and love in me, honors and bows to the light and love in you”


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