Sanskrit – The Language of Yoga

Ever wondered what you were REALLY hearing as you moved from pose to pose? Our instructors normally first speak in Sanskrit and then translate the pose names, etc. to the English names we better associate with.

Sanskrit is a classical Indian language and “the liturgical language of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism”. Sanskrit means “refined” and is one of 22 of the official languages of India. It’s regarded as a language used mostly religiously.

“Vedic Sanskrit is the pre-classical form of the language and the liturgical language of the Vedic religion”, and it is now mainly used in religious Hindu rituals and ceremonies.

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So you might be asking, why Sanskrit for yoga?
History and culture.
I spent quite a while looking up this exact question in hopes to come up with something substantial but the truth is, it’s one of those “that’s just the way it is”. As yoga developed, the language was used as it was a language frequently spoken in the areas where yoga was booming. Now you might ask why do we still use it? There is something extremely special about practicing with the mantras in Sanskrit instead of English. Just think of it this way, imagine yourself meditating and hearing “triangle pose” instead of “Trikonasana”. Saying the Sanskrit mantra adds a whole new depth of cultural connection. Perhaps this is just personal opinion, but traditionally this language has been used and once you hear some of the translations you’ll understand why.
For example, you’ve heard this Sanskrit word every class, “Namaste”. What does it mean?
namas = I bow
te = to you
The translation to English is awkward and lacks traditional depth. The phrases take time to pick up but with enough repetition… before you know it you’ll be speaking the yoga language!

Here is a link to 200 key Sanskrit yoga terms to satisfy your new found curiosity for Sanskrit!


Our UBC Yoga Club symbol itself has a Sanskrit symbols! Ever noticed?

cropped-10486_10151094924483521_1103997231_n-1.pngThe U is clearly a person, but the B and C combine to create the “OM” symbol. However, for the purpose of our need to spell UBC, the C isn’t actually shaped that way in the real “OM” symbol. I’ve seen it either completely connected or in a shape that looks like an upside down and backwards C.

omsymbol     Om_Symbol

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