The language of yoga
Would you feel different if your yoga teacher suddenly instructed you to go into Adho Mukha Swanasana instead of the downward-facing dog pose? Or vice versa? Do the exotic pose names make you more enthusiastic or just distract you from practice? Anyway, here’s a little something you need to know about the language of yoga.
Sanskrit became the language of yoga thanks to Patanjali, a mysterious figure from ca 200 BCE or CE, who is believed to be the author of Yoga Sutras – a collection of yoga wisdom. Ancient Indians believed that every word of Sanskrit is in a close relationship with the thing or concept it denotes. This way you can get a deeper understanding of things, connect with them, by just speaking the words.
However complicated Sanskrit yoga asana names may sound, they’re actually quite easy to interpret. All you need to know is what the separate parts of the names mean.
There’re several groups of words that are often used in asana names. As a rule, they denote a body part, state, number or form. We’ve compiled a small glossary for you.
Anga part of the body
Pada foot, leg
Padangustha big toe
Paschima back of the body
Purva front of the body
Supta lying down
Additionally, there’s a large group of words that denote animals and objects. Just to name some of them:
So now it should not be a problem for you to decipher Adho Mukha Swanasana or even Parivritta Janu Sirsasana!