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Why Every Yoga Practitioner Should Study Sanskrit

Sanskrit Deepens Your Practice

Learning Sanskrit can invite more meaning into your yoga asana practice. 

Want to dive deeper into yoga philosophy and asana with the study of Sanskrit? Join Richard Rosen—author and co-founder of the former Oakland- and San Francisco Bay-based Piedmont Yoga Studio—for Sanskrit 101: A Beginner’s Guide. Through this 6-week introductory online course, you will learn Sanskrit translations, refine your pronunciations, explore its historic highlights, and more. But, even more significantly, you will transform your practice as you begin to understand the beauty and meaning behind the original language of yoga. Sign up today!

Why go through the trouble of trying to roll that r in Vrksasana when you can just say “Tree”? Or twist your tongue into “pash-chee-moh-TAHN-AH-sa-na” when you can just say “Seated Forward Bend”? For one thing, Sanskrit provides 2,000-3,000 years’ worth of context for the yoga poses as we know them. Plus, studying the ancient language can be as invigorating for your brain as the physical practice is for your body. Let’s consider a few more reasons why studying Sanskrit can be valuable to you as a yogi.

1. You’ll feel more comfortable “talking yoga.”

Yoga is an ancient practice from a foreign land that can feel to the average Westerner not only mystical but also inaccessible. Some basic knowledge of Sanskrit can eliminate that intimidation factor. Learning the roots of common yoga pose names, philosophical terms, and other lingo will demystify the ancient language and deepen your understanding of the entire yoga practice. For example, the root word of āsana—which we usually translate as posture or seat—is ās, which means to be present, to sit quietly, to celebrate, and to continue to do anything without interruption. Doesn’t that shed a bit more light on what you’re doing on the mat?

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