Monday, December 12, 2011


I have had an interest in learning the ancient language of sanskrit for some time now. It is a beautiful ancient language in which many yogic texts are written.

I am a yoga instructor, of course a practitioner as well, and have an ongoing zeal for delving deeper into the practice and wisdom of yoga. Surely this comes first and primarily through practice of yoga. But what is yoga?

In this time and place (America 2011), we have, in a sense, invented/evolved yoga into what it is today. From what we know, yoga in the West is different than the ancient yoga which inspired so many wisdom texts such as the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and more. This is a bigger topic of it's own, one I hope to share my thoughts on later (and learn yours as well).

So I practice what I know. And I am curious about what I don't know. What reading the texts in their first tongue can teach me. What this ancient language holds, which we skim over.

An early find on my sanskrit search yielded this exciting li'l discovery:

Most yogis are familiar with the posture Sukhasana ("easy" pose). Which, as a Beginning Yoga teacher, I can tell you is anything but "easy" for standard Western bodies with tight hips and lack of strength in the muscles along the spine. At the studio which I teach (Yoga North), we sometimes joke about "who named this easy pose anyway?"

If we break down the word Sukhasana*:

  • "asana" refers to a yoga posture
  • "sukha" can translate to a number of things: pleasure, joy
  • and the similar "sukhi" translates happy or shining (as in the mantra Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu-- May all beings everywhere be happy and free.)

So this makes me think about the posture differently, particularly because the classic purpose of the asana (posture practice) is to prepare the body to sit for long periods of time in meditation. This Sukhasana is a common choice for seated meditation-- and what comes in meditation? An even mind, concentration, oneness, bliss. Sukha.

Now that makes sense to me. This is a posture which brings happiness.

*All this said, these are my excited uneducated speculations which lead me to deeper study of the language. If you are an Sanskrit expert reading this, I welcome your gentle critiques/corrections.

Thank you! Namaste.


  1. I'm not sure my first comment published.

    Fabulous, Erika! I look forward to your learnings--and your teachings.

    Love to you,


  2. Hey sweets! Nice first blog. Can't wait to read more! Yeah baby!

  3. Looks great Erika! Have fun with this...and keep us informed.

  4. Well done Erica. Great article! My respect to you!
    Please take into consideration that Sanskrit is an energy based language and it's unlike any other language of today. The translation of most words can not be precise. Many words will have many different meanings, thus you should not try to understand each word logically. More over I encourage you to pronounce the word that you are interested in for somewhat a good amount of time to get a grip of the feeling that it arouses. Coupled with more or less a wide range of translations that are available to you, you can build a decent picture of what the word really means. Still you won't be able to translate it the way you do it when dealing with other languages. Yet you will be confident with the feeling that the word gives you, which is more important.