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A Little Sanskrit Lesson: Basics

When I go to certain yoga classes (especially Ashtanga, Vinyasa, and Jivamukti classes), sometimes the instructors don't demonstrate the postures. They walk around assisting students, and call out the names of the poses - in SANSKRIT! Here's a little lesson so the next time you go to a yoga class like this, you can have more of an idea of what poses you're supposed to be doing.

Asana - "pose," as in Tadasana (Mountain pose)
Urdvha - "upward," as in Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog pose)
Adho - "downward," as in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog pose)
Utthita - "extended," as in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle pose)
Baddha - "bound," as in Ardha Bada Padmottanasana (Standing Half Bound Lotus pose)
Kona - "angle," as in Supta Konasana (Sleeping Angle pose)
Upavistha - "seated," as in Upavistha Konasana (Seated Angle pose)
Parivritta - "revolved," as in Parivritta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle pose)
Supta - "sleeping," as in Supta Kurmasana (Sleeping Tortoise pose)
Namaste - A sweet gesture meaning "The light (or spirit) in me greets the light in you." "Namaste" is also a greeting than means hello or goodbye.

So now you'll recognize some Sanskrit words when you take your next yoga class. With a little practice, these words will flow right off your tongue. It's fun to learn the Sanskrit names of poses, but you can still call them by their English names - You won't get in trouble with the Yoga Police.


Join The Conversation
lattegoodness lattegoodness 10 years
Correction: not all, but most. "Baddha" does in fact have that letter at the end. But yeah, 90% of the time, it's superfluous.
lattegoodness lattegoodness 10 years
FYI for those who want to know/care: all of the words are really supposed to be said and spelt without that "a" at the end. I don't know why during transliteration this extra letter was added (and I'd really like to punch him out, whoever started the trend), but coming from someone who knows the real words, it's damn annoying. For example, asana is really asan, mukha is really mukh, etc.
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