“In Sanskrit, words are like living beings; depending on context, circumstance and environment their mood varies and meaning differs.”
— Amit Ray
An Intro to Sanskrit
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve most likely heard the instructor mention words you are (or were as a beginner) unfamiliar with. Perhaps he or she ended class with “Namaste” or a collective “Om.” Have you wondered what those terms mean and where they come from? Well, wonder no more.
Sanskrit is a philosophical language of Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism. It is also one of the 22 languages of India. Sanskrit is one of the, if not the oldest, attested human languages. Yep, you read that right. It’s been around since 1500 BC, that’s quite a long time.
A Lesson In Sanskrit
Now that you have a little background in the language, let’s practice some of it. Here are eight Sanskrit words every yogi should know.
1. Yoga Nidra
In practice you will discover that Yoga Nidra is beyond a technique, it is a state of consciousness. It is a pristine state where you can rest in an effortless state of being.
Meaning “seat.” It is the term of the seated meditative posture we take at the end of a yoga class.
Kundalini refers to primal energy, typically located at the base of the spine and often related to a coiled serpent. Here’s how you can work towards releasing that pent up energy.
A sacred sound or phrase (like ‘om’) that has a transformative effect on the person chanting it.
This is the original mantra of Sanskrit and it translates to “Supreme.” The most important part of this Sanskrit term is the sound and vibrations it brings when it is chanted.
Or “thread.” It means a work consisting of aphoristic statements. Check out ‘A Feminine Perspective to the Yoga Sutra’s with Nischala Joy Devi’ for more insight.
Prana directly translates to “life” or “breath.” It is known as the life force which sustains the body.
Pranayama is life/ breath extension and it focuses on breath control. Conscious inhalation and exhalation is something every human should learn in order to master a calm mind. Pssst, here’s how to start.