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Adventures in Sanskrit

Apr 10th, 2018 caitlin Blog, Education
This is Catherine Weiss. She's about to drop some knowledge on you with some glory and grace.
Sanskrit for Yogi's workshop this Thursday - onedowndog.com/workshops
How did your sanskrit journey begin? 
My Sanskrit journey began last spring in my 200 hour teacher training at ODD. Reading the Yoga Sutras I referred over and over to the pronunciation guide at the back of Heart of Yoga. For my final project I decided to teach a short lesson on phonetics (which letters produce which sounds) and diacritics (the accents, dots and lines above and below letters).  The lesson was a big success, and Jessica Rosen suggested I study Sanskrit at LMU.

What do you love most about the language? 
Sanskrit is fascinating. It can encapsulate lots of meaning within a few words, making it super poetic and also super potent. In English we use all these filler words (like, as, this, that, in, on, beyond, etc.), to make meaning. In Sanskrit these filler words are folded into the main words of every sentence, so the language flows beautifully. Translation is really challenging, but it’s also really fun.
Why is it important for teachers to use the language?
I am not of the opinion that every teacher must use the Sanskrit names of poses. However, I do think a basic familiarity with the language is important. Cultural appropriation and decolonization are big buzzwords these days.  Learning more about where yoga came from is a way for practitioners to honor its culture.  Awareness of Sanskrit pronunciation and spelling will better enable teachers and students to engage in meaningful dialogue, both with texts such as the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, and also with practitioners from India.
Any advice for new teachers/yogis who are intimidated by Sanskrit?
Bring your beginner’s mind! Learning any language is a little bit awkward, but a willingness to try despite that awkwardness will go a long way. Making unfamiliar sounds is challenging at first, but eventually with practice the sounds of Sanskrit will feel normal. Remember how foreign yoga felt the first few times you tried, but eventually the poses feel like home.

What are you hoping people leave with after taking this workshop?I want people to leave feeling more comfortable using Sanskrit terms.  The main focus will be on pronunciation of transliterated Sanskrit, with emphasis on words and phrases common in the yoga studio.
And just for fun: What is your favorite Sanskrit word or phrase?
Sukham bandhāt pramucyate -Bhagavad Gītā verse 5.3
“Sweetly from bondage one is liberated”.
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