Have you ever taken a yoga class where you felt you were in a foreign speaking country even though you were not? One of the most common characteristics of modern day yoga teachers is the attempted use of the Sanskrit language.
It is puzzling to me that after an average 200-hr yoga teacher training (that often even fails to meet the poorly established Yoga Alliance requirements), all of a sudden the teacher trainee feels that not only have they learned everything about human anatomy and physiology, they have also mastered a foreign language.
If the above sounds like a rant, is because it is. 🙂
The Sanskrit language, is a complex, highly phonetic, energetic language. Energetic, in the sense that the sounds of the language reflect the energies of our natural environment in general, and our human nature in particular. This is not to say that other languages do not have an energetic aspect. It is a well established fact that words carry energy, period.
Sanskrit in particular, due to its ancient Indo-Aryan origin and due to the fact that it has remained close to its roots, is even more likely to reflect the “sound carries energy” principle.
This means that proper phonetic use of the language becomes highly important. Mispronouncing certain words may completely reverse the meaning of the word, as the following two examples demonstrate.
Mala beads vs Mālā beads
Mala in Sanskrit means impurity, or poop. I assume that when people make mala beads, they do not use poop to make them. 🙂 Mālā, on the other hand, with long a, means garland. I suspect that this is the intended word in this case.
Ananda vs Ānanda
Ānanda means bliss, joy. It is what every aspiring yogi is in search for. Ananda with a short a, however, means misery, cheerless, joyless. Repeatedly using the word ananda in a mantra, a very common practice today, will eventually attract lack of joy.
And last but not least!
Vinyāsa Flow does not sound as cool as you think it does. Unless you really want to name your class “Flow Flow”. Vinyāsa in Sanskrit means arrangement, order, placement of one thing after the other. If for some reason you insist on using both vinyāsa and flow, at least put one of them in parenthesis, to reflect the translation aspect, as in: Vinyāsa (Flow) or Flow (Vinyāsa)
It is wonderful to see Yoga, Ayurveda and Sanskrit spread. What we need to remember is that they are not a fad, and therefore we should not treat them as one. Ignorance is not bliss, no matter how well-meaning the yoga teacher may be.
To learn more about the beauty and intricacies of the Sanskrit language, look for the books referenced below.
To learn more about Ayurveda & The Mind, choose one of our online self-paced courses, or in person trainings at https://SpartanMindStrength.com/learn
For more information on Sanskrit, listen to our Spartan Mind Strength Podcast Episode 004.
SMS 004: The Perfected Language, Morning Meditation & Astrology’s Pitfalls
- The Language of Yoga – Sanskrit Terms: https://amzn.to/2Oyocrm
- The Language of Ayurveda – Sanskrit Terms: https://amzn.to/2peGnas
- Sanskrit Names Dictionary
- Practical Sanskrit English Dictionary
Until next time much, much love from both of us! By the way, have you ever thought about learning Sanskrit? Let us know, in the comment section below.
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