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.

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