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Sanskrit Basics and Why it is Important

By Andrea the Yogi

image os Sanskrit

Picture this: you are at a yoga class, the teacher says some crazy words you’ve never heard, and magically everyone knows what to do! What was that? How did everyone know what to do?? Those “crazy words” were Sanskrit. Sanskrit is an ancient language that was used in India, and it is the parent language of the Indian languages.

Now we know what Sanskrit is, but why is it important? In short, using Sanskrit in our yoga practice is tradition. Oral traditions once passed down yoga; therefore, being able to correctly pronounce Sanskrit is essential for any serious student or teacher.

Some examples of important Sanskrit words we all should know:

  • Asana – Asana means pose. Since we do poses in yoga, we use asana as a suffix. A yoga pose is called something-asana
  • Namaste – Namaste is our greeting. Many yoga teachers end a class by saying “namaste” to say, “Thanks for coming; hope to see you soon.” While that is not a direct translation, it is the yogi’s way of saying hello and goodbye
  • Garuda – This means eagle. Using the suffix asana, we get Garudasana which translates to eagle pose. Many of the poses in yoga are named after animals, while others are body parts or a combination.

For a more in-depth look at Sanskrit, check out the book “The Language of Yoga” by Nicolai Backman. I especially love this book because it comes with 2 CDs so you can listen to the correct pronunciations. Go on and master the language!

Good Morning Yoga

Andrea the Yogi

sun salutation

Whether your morning starts at 5 am or 1 pm, we all have to wake up sometime. Many people, yogi or not, love working out in the morning. A morning workout has many benefits that include de-stressing, energizing for the day, and improved metabolism, strength, and flexibility.  Over the years of my yoga practice, I’ve found some yoga poses that I especially love to practice in the morning. 

Cat/Cow pose is one of my all-time favorites. There are numerous benefits to cat/cow which include increased flexibility and circulation of the hips and spine, and reduced back pain and stress. Cow/cat pose is typically done in the tabletop pose but can be modified to be done in almost any position. If you are not feeling an early morning tabletop pose, you can do cat/cow while seated or even lying down! 

Once you are a little warmed up, adding a couple of sun salutations to your morning workout is a great way to get the juices flowing! The benefits of sun salutations include a boost in energy, increased strength, flexibility, unwinding tension, and grounding of the mind. 

There are many other yoga poses that are great for a morning workout. I find the best ones are the ones your body tells you you need. Sometimes your body may end up surprising you when you really listen to yourself.