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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.

Join The Conversation
Clarixa Clarixa 9 years
Wow, all I have to say, is I wish, I could be as good as one of those people practicing it. I have tried a class here and there and I absolutely love it.
emma- emma- 9 years
Interesting observation, Ley.
Fitness Fitness 9 years
It's looks hard when you're watching, but you learn it little by little. As you're ready and you build more strength (and you WILL build incredible strength), you add poses. With practice and good instruction, you'd be amazed what your body can do! Most yogis don't start out naturally flexible. If you start taking even 1 class a week, you'll notice a difference immediately.
nurdburd13 nurdburd13 9 years
good god. that looks incredibly hard.
magita magita 9 years
I love Ashtanga yoga! I've been working on the primary series for about two years, and no matter how good I think I get, I always have something to work on... I've tried some of the poses of the secondary series just to see how I do but never the whole thing....its pretty tough! I'm happy where I am with the primary series.
jennapoofers jennapoofers 9 years
that is the coolest damn thing i've ever seen!
ley ley 9 years
Is it 'cause the yoga lasts so long? It kinda reminds me of how significantly different the bodies of sprinters and marathon runners are, and the reason of which is marathon runners end up losing much of their muscle to fuel their long distances that they have to go through
ley ley 9 years
ok, i have a question - why is that that people who practice yoga are skinny barely an muscle (visible) at all while gymnasts have very strong defined bodies and they're doing very similar things?
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