As you dig deeper into the complex philosophy of yoga—frequenting yoga events, reading ancient texts, and sitting with gurus—a basic understanding of esoteric Sanskrit lingo makes all the difference between truly grasping yogic philosophy and getting lost.
Sanskrit is a highly refined language that supposedly comes from nature itself—revealed to meditating sages thousands of years ago. Some say that Shiva, the god of destruction, created the Sanskrit alphabet by beating on his drum fourteen times. Sanskrit grammar is hence defined in the fourteen Mahasvara Sutras.
All major ancient yogic texts, including the Vedas, were written in Sanskrit. It’s actually one of the world’s oldest written languages. These days, it’s rarely used in spoken form outside of prayers and rituals.
When spoken correctly, Sanskrit has a beautiful fluidity and rhythm. Words are carefully organized to create memorable, rhythmic versus, lending it it’s nickname of the “language of the gods”.
Extremely complex, Sanskrit is a language of interpretation, which is why many words may seem to carry varied translations. A single word can have many meanings depending on its context. In the list below, the most commonly understood translations have been given.
Sanskrit pronunciation is very particular. Each letter corresponds to a particular sound, unlike in English where one letter can signify many different sounds. However, many letters in the Sanskrit alphabet are difficult to pronounce for English speakers. There are five ways to pronounces the letter “t” and “d”, depending where in the mouth the tongue presses! The most basic Sanskrit pronunciations have thus been given here.Enjoy this guide to yoga’s most common Sanskrit terms as you delve deep into the vast ocean of yogic philosophy.
Bachman, Nicolai. The Language of Ayurveda. Victoria, Canada: Traffor Publishing, 2010.
Iyengar, BKS. Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Uttar Pradesh, India: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CHAKRAS EBOOK
Gain a better understanding of the chakras as a whole and the yogic practices associated with each as you journey through this ebook.