Should all yogis speak Sanskrit?

6 Mar


Last week one of my yoga teacher was off for a retreat and the studio was so kind to find a substitute. Before the class started, she introduced herself and had a little chat with us. She seemed really nice, warm, open.

Then the class began and something changed. The smiles were gone, the happy look disappeared and it was like she was replaying an old record. No enthusiasm whatsoever.

She lead the class calling the asanas with their Sanskrit name, giving a quick description and a rough hint of the pose itself. There was no real demonstration of the pose and hearing only the Sanskrit name made things quite difficult when the more advanced poses were called.

My mind was full of Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Padma Mayurasana when I left the room at the end of the class.

On my way home, I wondered if a yoga practitioner should know all the Sanskrit names of the asanas. I think that it is something that comes with the time, but it shouldn’t be given for granted. My idea is that a teacher should feel that something is not working in her class, should be able to make a step back and accompany the Sanskrit name of an asana with its translation if students are bewildered. And believe me, we certainly were.

I can still recall the feeling of confusion that lingered in my head when the class was over and I am still wondering if that day I really practised yoga or just performed a sequence of poses.

Because if yoga is being present, breathing and staying focused, I am not sure I actually did those things in that class.


2 Responses to “Should all yogis speak Sanskrit?”

  1. Roshini Davidson Stender July 23, 2014 at 10:17 #

    I agree with you here. I dont practice yoga but come from the country of it. There is a big difference between teachers here and back home. I’m guessing one does yoga for health, connection to your spirit and the universe. Being unable to gauge that your class has lost you or you have lost the spirit of your class is just being very out of touch with everything other than yourself and that is quite on the opposite track of the yogi’s spirit. This is weird even if you are not a yoga teacher πŸ˜€ Everyone leading or working with people needs to be connected with the working of the people. If that sensory factor isnt working.. its time to re-evaluate πŸ˜€

    • chicandfrog July 23, 2014 at 19:24 #

      Well said! I wish that I will be able to have some class in India, some day.

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