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A Little Sanskrit Lesson: Counting

The thing I love about Ashtanga yoga classes is that they are the same every time you go. Same poses, same order, same amount of breaths in each pose, and the class is always an hour and a half. There are no surprises, so you always know what to expect.

The teacher keeps everyone at the same pace by counting out loud. Many Ashtanga yoga instructors count in Sanskrit, the original language of yoga. Here are the numbers 1-10 written out, and what kind of breath you do for each one.

1: ekam (yekum) - Inhale
2: dve (dway) - Exhale
3: trini (treeny) - Inhale
4: catvari (chatwary) - Exhale
5: panca (pancha) - Inhale
6: sat (sut) - Exhale
7: sapta (supta) - Inhale
8: astau (ashtow) - Exhale
9: nava (nawa) - Inhale
10: dasa (dasha) - Exhale

Here is Pattabhi Jois (the father of Ashtanga Yoga) teaching Second Series with 6 students following. You can here him count in Sanskrit to get in and out of poses, but he counts the 5 breaths in English during the pose. Check it out.

Fit's Tips: Second Series is very challenging, and traditionally taught after mastering Primary Series, so don't be turned off by these difficult poses. If you've never tried an Ashtanga yoga class, take Primary Series first. You'll start off slow and build your way up when your body is ready.

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