Yoga Teacher Training Forum » General Discussion (anything about teaching or practice) » Sanskrit - What does that mean in English?
Is there a need for Yoga teachers to speak Sanskrit(10 posts) (9 voices)
None of my students speak Sanskrit. Why should we teach Sanskrit in classes? Why should Yoga teachers want to learn Sanskrit?
Sanskrit is the universal language for yoga teachers, because it refers to the root of a technique.
Sanskrit mantras are vehicles that transport us to spiritual growth. Sanskrit is quite possibly the oldest existing language on earth. Additionally and more importantly, Sanskrit is often the foundational language of most of the Indo-European languages, including English, French, Latin and Germanic languages.
English is a mantric language, that is capable of affecting each of us deeply, but we have to do a lot of unlearning if we are to recover its mantric capabilities. Sanskrit functions as the yogic language, a means of measuring opening the awareness of spiritual realities through perceptions, which are different from daily consciousness.
You may wonder why we should use Sanskrit for yoga classes and mantras, why not other languages, and why not English, especially since many of us understand it?
What we are trying to do by speaking Sanskrit is access levels of higher consciousness.
Each language has its own vibratory structure that is intended for specific purposes. English has evolved into a conceptual language. It is easy for us to communicate in English with each other using arbitrary labels.
In comparison Sanskrit is a language that has been constructed for the deepest levels of consciousness for the use of advanced practitioners of yoga and meditation. The mantras are constructed to penetrate the mind and affect our nervous system for direct healing.
In this sense, Sanskrit mantras are much like spiritual medicine, which enter our soul with good physiological effects. It is this capability that gives Sanskrit its exact spiritual and therapeutic properties. Unfortunately these spiritual and therapeutic benefits are usually non-existent in our modern languages.
Hari Om Tat Sat
In Sanskrit there is one name for a Yoga technique. In the average class you may hear cobbler pose, bound angle pose, diamond pose, butter fly pose, and even sometimes star pose (although this is usually a variation). In Sanskrit, there is one name: Baddha Konasana. By learning Sanskrit, a yoga teacher in Argentina can speak to a yoga teacher in India with no confusion.
There is a need for Yoga teachers to understand Sanskrit. To communicate with each other it helps to know what someone is talking about.
Example: A teacher talks about mountain pose. I think she means Tadasana, but she means Adho Mukha Svanasana. Two schools of thought and yoga have two different mountain poses. If you say the name in Sanskrit - everyone understands.
There is only one Adho Mukha Svanasana and only one Tadasana. There is no confusion in Sanskrit.
For Yoga teachers to speak to each other about a technique over the web, it would be useful to have some working knowledge of Sanskrit. For teachers to impress students - might not be useful. For teachers to say, chant, or practice Sanskrit with students of different religions is questionable.
One example: An orthodox Jew doesn't say the names of God. In the Hebrew Holy Books the name of God is sacred. This said - out of deep respect for the name of God, Jews don't say the sacred names and they don't erase them if the scared names are written. "Om" the sacred syllable is such a word. This is just one of many examples.
Good point Mila. On that religious note: Saint Paul wrote, "He who speaks in tongues edifies himself...I would like every one of you to speak in tongues" (1 Corinthians 14:4,5).
While this may appear to be tolerant, if you spoke in tongues around the Puritans, they would have hung you from the nearest tree. Sanskrit is not exactly speaking in tongues, but try to explain that to the intolerant. Sanskrit is overdone in the presence of students. How do you know which one is bothered by it?
Seems like Sanskrit should be left in the hands of yoga teachers and practitioners who are interested in deep study. No need to ruffle any feathers over it.
Many really interesting opinions here. Lina mentions one that I hadn't considered. I kind of fell into mantra mode and didn't think anyone was offended. I'm glad this viewpoint was mentioned because I don't want to hurt anyone. Maybe I should offer sample yoga classes without mantra and Sanskrit to see what their silent opinions are? No pushing - no prodding - this is just a test.
Why not try both types of classes (with and without Sanskrit)? Announce the difference in your Yoga course descriptions. Mention that there will be mantras in classes with Sanskrit. Then you can test them side by side. You may find that these two differences draw two separate groups.
You must log in to post.