The Language of Yoga

The original language and text of yoga is Sanskrit. Nevertheless, yoga has been translated into untold numbers of other languages for use by the cultures of the world. But whether you take yoga classes in India, Iowa, or Ireland, Sanskrit is the language used to identify everything from the yoga poses (asana) to the breathing exercises (pranayama).

Understandably, until your ear warms up to the linguistic flow of Sanskrit, it can sound like Urdu. Not to worry, though. Sanskrit as translated phonetically into English is an easy language, pronounced precisely as it is written. And the images in yoga translate smoothly into vivid English.

The Bhagavad Gita, which is contained in the national epic Mahabharata, is perhaps the best known of all yogic scriptures. It is an epic conversation between the incarnated god Krishna and the warrior-prince Arjuna. As Prince Arjuna prepares for battle, he realizes that his cherished teacher and friend will be his opponent. Lord Krishna instructs Prince Arjuna on the correct ways to live fully and meaningfully in the world. It embodies both spiritual and mundane struggles and how to act accordingly in full consciousness of the divine.


Before starting yoga, you’ll need to acquaint yourself with some some simple Sanskrit words commonly used in classes (and this blog).

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