Sanskrit Lesson Part Two
|26 April 2012||Posted by Lara under Lara Hennessey, TSP Experts|
When yoga came to the masses, most of the names for poses were translated into English (ever notice it is always chaturanga – there is no English?). English is much less intimidating and it is easier to remember the pose so you don’t have to strain your neck looking around every time the teacher asks you to move. But sometimes teachers sneak in a little Sanskrit. I know I do. I love the way the words sound and Sanskrit gets me more into the proper head space for yoga. Where I trained in Massachusetts, I would regularly take a class in which every pose was referred to in Sanskrit only and I loved it. No worries though, when I use a Sanskrit term, I always follow right behind with the English.
For those of you who wonder what I’m saying and maybe want to begin to understand a little more of this language of yoga, here are a few words that get used a lot in class:
- Asana (aa-saa-naa): Ever noticed that most poses end with the sound “asana?” This is because “asana” means “pose.” Trikonasana is literally translated as “three angle pose.” Vrksasana is “tree pose” and so on. Asana is just one of the eight limbs of yoga. The poses we twist ourselves into in class is only a part of all that encompasses yoga. But that’s for another lesson.
- Pranayama (praa-naa-yum): This is another of those eight limbs of yoga. Pranayama is breath control, even translated as control of the subtle life forces. There are many pranayama exercises and I practice a few in my classes. Breath control is meant to increase lung capacity, calm you down and move energy throughout the body.
- Savasana (shaa-vah-sana): When written in Sanskrit the first “s” has a little dot under it, indicating that it is pronounced “sh.” This is everyone’s favorite. It is corpse pose, where we lie on our back and relax. Perhaps the most important part of the asana practice in this country!
- Vinyasa (vin-yaa-saa): This simply means “flow.” So when we see on a schedule “vinyasa flow,” it is redundant but very helpful. In class, I use vinyasa to describe a certain flow, the part of a sun salutation done between poses. This is technically incorrect. But so many teachers use it this way that it has become generally understood to refer to the flow plank-chaturanga-updog-downdog.
- Chaturanga Dandasana (cha-tur-ungah dan-dah-sana): This is translated as four armed stick pose. Chaturanga literally refers to warriors who can command the four arms: elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry. Danda means stick and when you add on the asana, it turns into a yoga pose! This is one of many pose names which refer either to specific warriors or warriors in general.
Do you have any other words you hear a lot and want to know what they mean? Just ask me!