Yoga is rooted in deep philosophy. Understanding the importance of Sanskrit vocabulary and semantics will aid a yogi immensely in deepening their practice. Each Sanskrit word has its own consciousness and when pronouncing it, you tap into its consciousness. In yoga, we use mantras in order to purify the mind. Mantras are usually Sanskrit words like “om,” and “lam” that when said or chanted correctly, make the sound needed to tap into that energy. We must practice svadhyaya, or “self-study” in order to make the most of what Sanskrit has to offer. You might be asking why we, as yogis, would want to use Sanskrit when we could more easily just use English. The answer lies in the natural divide between languages. There are words in Sanskrit that are not translatable into English and visa versa. As Sanskrit was the language used to develop yoga, it inherently carries meaning that extends far beyond the reaches of English. A quote from Yoga Journal: “No language [Sanskrit] in the world can as effectively translate the mystical, transcendent, and divine,” says Graham Schweig, the Newport News, Virginia-based author of The Bhagavad Gita: The Beloved Lord’s Secret Love Song. YJ also put together a list of resources you can use to learn more Sanskrit:


Books and CDs

108 Sanskrit Flashcards, by Nicolai Bachman (available through
English-Sanskrit Dictionary, by Monier Williams (available at major bookstores)
Introduction to Sanskrit Notebook (available through
The Language of Yoga, by Nicolai Bachman (available through
Learn to Pronounce Yoga Poses with Manorama (available through
Learn to Chant Yoga Invocations with Manorama (available through
Namo Namah: Invoke Reverence, by Manorama (available through
The Sacred Language of Yoga: A Sanskrit Guide to the Philosophy, Mantras, and Vocabulary of the Yoga Tradition, by Jay Kumar (available through
Sanskrit Atlas, by Vyass Houston (available through
Sanskrit by CD, by Vyass Houston (available through
The Yoga Sutra Workbook, by Vyaas Houston (available through
Web Sites (American Sanskrit Institute, offers courses nationwide) (a self-guided Sanskrit tutorial) (School of Sanskrit Studies, offers courses nationwide)

Delve deeper into Sanskrit and subsequently delve deeper into your practice.

photo courtesy of Unlisted Sightings