Yoga is a vast and ancient tradition that originated in India. The language of yoga is Sáṃskṛta (Sanskrit), and many of the terms used in yoga have deep meanings that are lost when translated into English. Hence, there are several reasons why I use Sáṃskṛta when sharing about yoga.
- To connect with the tradition – yoga is a living tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years; using Sáṃskṛta helps me to connect with this tradition and to honour the wisdom of the yogis & yoga practitioners who came before me
- To be more precise – many English translations of Sáṃskṛta are imprecise or inaccurate; using the original Sáṃskṛta allows me to be more precise in my communication and to convey a truer meaning of the terms
- To help students learn more about yoga – many students are interested in learning more about the history and philosophy of yoga; using Sáṃskṛta can help them to learn more about the origins of yoga and to develop a deeper understanding of the practice
- To create a sense of community – Sáṃskṛta is a universal language that is spoken by yogis all over the world; using it in my teaching (alongside English) can help to create a sense of community and connection among students, whether in that particular group, or as they navigate the online & offline yoga world
- To convey the meaning of the poses and breathing exercises – many of the Sáṃskṛta names of the poses (āsana) and breathing exercises (prāṇāyāma) have meanings that can help people to better understand and appreciate the practice on a deeper level
- To create a sense of mystery and wonder – the use of Sáṃskṛta can add a sense of mystery and wonder to yoga practice; this can help students to open their minds and hearts to the possibility of transformation.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to using Sáṃskṛta: for example, not everyone is familiar with Sáṃskṛta, so it may be difficult for some people to understand the terms initially; additionally, some people may find the use of Sáṃskṛta to be pretentious or elitist.
However, I believe that the benefits of using Sáṃskṛta outweigh the drawbacks. When used appropriately, Sáṃskṛta can help to deepen our understanding and experience of yoga. If you are interested in learning more about Sáṃskṛta, there are many resources available online and in libraries.
You can find many yoga teachers who understand Sáṃskṛta and can help you to learn the meaning of the various common words and terms; there are also people who teach Sáṃskṛta as an additional language, much like we might learn Spanish, Arabic, or Chinese.
We must also remember that using Sáṃskṛta does not make one superior or more authentic in their yoga teaching or practice – we’re connecting with the tradition of yoga, not scoring points against other practitioners
I hope this blog post has helped you to understand why I use Sáṃskṛta when teaching & sharing yoga. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.