Sanskrit, The Language of Yoga

Sanskrit, The Language of Yoga

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On January 17, 2018
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Sanskrit is the language of yoga. Also the language of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, this amazing and beautiful tongue shares some very old common roots with English. Sanskrit literally means polished or perfected. The prefix "sam" indicates "entirely" and "krit" indicates "done." The more we are exposed to yoga, the more we are exposed to Sanskrit, so it can be a really fun and interesting learning pursuit!

Here are 10 simple words and terms to familiarize yourself with:

1. Yoga योग : union, from the root verb "yuj" which means to yoke, join or unite.

2. Om ॐ is the primordial sound from which all word variations originate. Considered the "sound of all sounds" because it originates from the sounds of nature and embodies them in its vibration, this mystical single syllable word and its Sanskrit symbol represent the entire Universe.

3. Asana आसन means "to sit and also "to be." Asana, or posture, is the 3rd limb of Patanjali's 8 limbs of yoga, in the Yoga Sutras. Thus, asana "seats" the body in a particular posture- standing, sitting, lying down, twisting, inverting, bending backward or forward, leading to physical health and purification.

4. Surya namaskara सूर्यनमस्कार (or Sun Salutation) is a Yoga warm-up routine based on a sequence of gracefully linked asanas.

5. Namaste नमस्ते: From na (not) ma (mine) and te (to you), the literal meaning is "honor or obedience to you." This phrase is often translated as "the light in me bows to the light in you." This is a traditional everyday greeting in India, often said as "namaskar," usually with fingertips touching and hands held at the heart.

6. Pranayama प्राणायाम is a Sanskrit word alternatively translated as "extension of the prāṇa (breath or life force)" or "breath control." The word is composed from two Sanskrit words: prana meaning life force (noted particularly as the breath), and either ayama (to restrain or control the prana, implying a set of breathing techniques where the breath is intentionally altered in order to produce specific results) or the negative form ayāma, meaning to extend or draw out (as in extension of the life force). It is a yogic discipline with origins in ancient India.

7. Dharana धारणा may be translated as "single focus." The mind thinks about one object and avoids other thoughts. Dhāraṇā is the initial step of deep concentrative meditation, where the object being focused upon is held in the mind without consciousness wavering from it.

8. Drsti दृष्टि or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. In asana practice, we often have a looking point to improve the alignment of the spine and to keep the mind focused.

9. Bandha बंध from the root word bandh (to bind). Bandhas are energy locks used by yogis to strengthen the body and mind and to store energy deep within the body during asana or meditation practice.

10. Shanti बंध means peace, rest, calmness, tranquility, or bliss.