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Archive for November 12th, 2015

So Ancient, There Are A Lot Of Differences

Posted by terrepruitt on November 12, 2015

So I was told that Sanskrit is an ancient language.  About 14,000 years old.  It was not a written language, it was mostly just an oral language.  It was not written until 5000BC.  Sanskrit is known as the language of the gods.  It is a sacred language.  It is the oldest language.  It is the root of many languages.  That is what I was told.  I imagine that if it is actually the oldest language it would be the root of many languages.  Since it was first an oral only language and is so old I believe it has changed.  I believe it has changed A LOT.  How I think about it first off is like that game telephone, I mean if the language wasn’t written for thousands of years that is a lot of ways it can get changed.  Then once it gets written things get lost in translation.  And it just gets more and more morphed from there.  So there are a lot of translations out there where it comes to Sanskrit texts.

Originally I found it VERY, VERY annoying that almost every yoga pose I researched had different names or slightly different names.  Now, since I can understand how things could have gotten mixed up and changed it is only annoying.  Sometimes it makes learning and even teaching difficult because there are so many translations out there, and then on top of that so many versions and modifications . . . but finding one and sticking to it is a good way to keep your practice consistent.  For me that translates into meaning when I meet someone who says it different or has a slightly different name for it, they aren’t wrong, it just means that I have my path that I am following and they have theirs.  Some words, things, poses are more common and people have seem to agree on them, but some seem to be different no matter what.

One thing that can help with learning poses is to have some of the words memorized.  A break down of the asana name.

Here is what I am going with.

adho   — downward
agni     — fire
anga     — limb
angusta     — big toe
ardha     — half
baddha     — bound
baka     — crane
bala     — child
bandha     — formation
bharadvaja   — ancient sage
bheka     — frog
bhujanga     — snake
chandra     — moon
chatur     — four
danda     — staff
eka     — one
go     — cow
hala     — plow
hasta     — hand
janu     — knee
jathara     — stomach
kapota     — pigeon
kararu     — doing, making, action
karna     — ear
kona     — angle
krouncha     — heron
kurma     — tortoise
marichi     — sage / ray of light
marjari     — cat
Matsyendra   — lord of the fishes
mayura     — peacock
mukha     — facing
nata     — dancer
nava     — boat
pada     — foot
padma     — lotus
parivartana   — turning, rolling
parivrtta   — rotated / revolved
parsva     — side
paschim     — west
pida     — pain
pinca     — feather
raja     — king
salabha     — locust
salamba     — supported
sarvanga     — all the limbs
sarvanga     — entire body
setu     — bridge
simha     — lion
sirsa     — head
supta     — reclined
svana     — dog
tada     — mountain
tan     — stretch
tri     — three
triang     — 3 parts of the body
upavista     — seated
urdhva     — upward
ut     — intense
utkata     — intense fierce
uttana     — intense
utthita     — stretch / extended
virabhadra   — warrior
varja     — thunderbolt
vasistha     — celebrated sage
viparita     — turned around/inverted
vira     — hero, warrior, chief
vrksa     — tree


I reserve the right to change, too.  But for now, I am using these translations to add to my yoga practice and yoga teaching.  I am going to learn the Sanskrit names of the asana by this list/translation.

Does your yoga teacher say the poses in Sanskrit?

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