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What is it? Yoga gibberish. Atleast that’s what it may sound like when your yoga instructor asks you to sit deeper in your Utkatasana (Chair pose). It’s actually Sanskrit, an ancient language of India. The word Sanskrit translates to mean “refined,” and it remains a respected and widely used language in the yoga world. Sanskrit has been circulating since 1500 BCE! One of the 22 official languages of India, it continues to be used as a ceremonial language in Hindu and Buddhist religions.

Why should we care? Sanskrit is the language of yogic philosophy. By understanding Sanskrit words and phrases, we can better understand where yoga came from. Translations can only be so accurate, and we can learn much from exploring the original Sanskrit names of yoga poses we practice regularly. Learning new languages can help focus and calm a busy mind, and give our brain some exercise. Plus some of the words are pretty fun to say.

Sanskrit in practice: Every asana (yoga pose) in our practice has a Sanskrit name. At Kula, we love to pepper Sanskrit words, phrases or mantras through our Hot, Flow, Yin and Barre classes. Here a few that you’re likely to hear around the studio, and how to pronounce them!

Adho Mukha Svanasana: (ad-ho MOOKA shva-na-sana) Downward Facing Dog

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana: (erd-va MOOKA shva-na-sana) Upward Facing Dog

Uttanasana: (OO-tan-ah-sana) Forward Fold

Virabhdrasana II: (veera-ba-DRAS-ana) Warrior 2

Trikonasana: (TREE-co-na-sana) Triangle Pose

Bakasna: (Ba-KA-sa-na) Crow Pose

Savasana: (SHA-va-sa-na) Nap time. Oops, we mean Corpse Pose.

Are there any other yoga poses you’d like to know the Sanskrit name? Comment below and we will answer!

About the author: Miranda Raimon is a yoga instructor, Kula studio manager and freelance health & wellness writer from the San Francisco Bay Area.