Sanskrit 101

December 21, 2017

It’s challenging enough being in a yoga class and wondering what the teacher is doing, let alone understanding what they’re saying in Sanskrit...Adhomukha-huh? Chata-what? I present, The Beginners Guide to Sanskrit. Once you know a few key Sanskrit words, you just might know what’s coming out of your teacher’s mouth.

Sanskrit 101 l Mukha Yoga

May the prana (life force) be with you.

  • Asana: seat, or posture; most pose names end in “asana” i.e. savasana (deep rest), adho mukha svanasana (Downward facing dog)
  • Adho: down or downward (downward facing dog =adho mukha savasana)
  • Urdhva: up or upward (wheel pose =urdhva dhanurasana)
  • Ardha: half (half way lift =ardha uttanasana)
  • Pada: feet
  • Hasta: hand (hands underneath feet pose =padahastasana)
  • Tri: three (triangle pose = trikonasana)

Sanskrit 101 l Mukha YogaThe above translations can be helpful with poses, or asanas. Let’s look at other commonly used words on the mat:

  • Drishti: the directed focus of your gaze/sight “put your drishti on ___”
  • Namaste: I bow to you
  • Pranayama: life force or breath. Used to describe breath retention and breath control practices.
  • Tapas: using heat as a means of transformation and transcendence
  • Om: the “source” or supreme. It is the all encompassing sound representing that we are all connected.
  • Mudra: a mark or seal. Hand mudras, or seals, are used in yoga - we often start class in anjali mudra (palms together in front of the heart)
  • Bandha: body or energy lock. You may hear teachers speak aboutuddiyana bandha (drawing belly button back towards spine, an energy lock in the center of your body)
  • Yoga: to yolk, to join. This can be translated as connecting body to breath, mind/body/spirit, and one of my favorites, it is a connection between you and your truest self.

Sanskrit words are valuable as one way to honor the reverence of the practice of yoga. Don’t get too tripped up by them. They are there to support your practice, not hinder it. Namaste, my friends.

Liz Skarvelis l Mukha YogaBy Liz Skarvelis; All Rights Reserved @2017

Also in The Community Hub

Mudra Series: Prana

May 13, 2021

Think of the prana mudra as if it's coffee and a weekly planner all in one. Using this mudra may make you more energized and efficient when you feel anxious, stressed, and sluggish. 
Read More
Intro to Tibetan Prayer Flags

May 10, 2021

You may have seen colorful rectangular pieces of cloth strung and hung near doorways or between trees. The block-printed flags are tied vertically or horizontally aligned on ropes, poles, or walls.
Read More
Symbol Stories: Hamsa

May 05, 2021

Beginning as an amulet for fertility, good health and fortune, the symbol’s significance evolved with Abrahamic religions before it was then taken east with the silk trade where its significance grew in India. 
Read More