The Language of Yoga

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The Language of Yoga

While some linguists may consider Sanskrit a “dead” language, the popularity of yoga has kept it very much alive. Because only some areas of India speak Sanskrit conversationally, yogis (yoga enthusiasts) worldwide collectively stumble over the unfamiliar syllables. But wherever you travel, even if you don’t speak the local language, you can confidently chant om right along with native yogis in a class. Downward-facing dog / adho mukha svanasana One of the most fundamental poses in most forms of yoga, this posture is nothing like it sounds. But practitioners around the world won’t hesitate to raise their rears to the sky and send their heels to the ground if asked to demonstrate. Upward-facing dog / urdva mukha svanasana Watch a dog stretch after a nap, legs dragging along behind a broadly displayed chest. You may come to realize that your dog could teach you a thing or two about yoga, or at least upward-facing dog. Prana If you’re hot and breathing heavily within the first 10 minutes of a class, you’re not out of shape. Yogis would say you’re working your prana. It’s the Sanskrit word for “vital life,” and in yoga, it manifests as heat in the body. Om Say “om” and you’re uttering what yogis believe to be the universal sound. It’s not in any language, and you don’t have to be a bald-headed monk to use the word to open the lungs and focus the mind. Namaste Often used as a casual greeting in India, the word “Namaste” is a standard way to end your yoga practice and thank your teacher. It means, “the God in me bows to the God in you,” kind of like the “good game!” of yoga. Savasana The name for the most restful yoga pose of all has two meanings: dead bug and corpse. You can call it either name, whatever seems more relaxing.

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