I’d like to start a little discussion here and get some feedback from my fellow yoga teachers and students on the use of Sanskrit versus English for the names of yoga poses during class.
I will go on the record to say that I primarily use English names for the poses when I teach. I lead a lot of basic and beginner classes, and I just feel it makes the class more accessible to all students. There is already a lot to digest during a yoga class. Why throw another component in there? My goal is to demystify yoga and allow the students to go inward as they relax into their poses. I don’t want them to worry about memorizing words from an ancient foreign language.
However, I do tend to weave in a few Sanskrit words here and there. For example, it just wouldn’t seem right to call the final relaxation at the end of class anything else but savasana. And I love putting students into reclining bound angle pose, otherwise affectionately known as supta baddha konasana. I just love saying supta baddha konasana; it sounds so fun rolling off my lips. Come on, say it with me: soup-ta bah-dah ko-nass-a-na. It sounds like it should be some bad-ass tropical drink instead of a super relaxing (and always a crowd favorite) yoga pose.
I recently attended a workshop given by Max Strom (author of A Life Worth Breathing), and he advised yoga teachers to pick one language and stick with it. Either conduct your class in all English or all Sanskrit, but don’t mix and match the origin of language for your yoga-pose names. I guess I never really thought about it, but if I was learning something new, I wouldn’t want someone jockeying around, teaching it to me in two different languages. Good point, Max!
I know there are yogi purists out there who live and breathe by the Sanskrit terms, and, don’t get me wrong, I totally respect that. In fact, I’m a bit jealous that I am not the Sanskrit-language aficionado that I should be.
I guess, for me, it’s really all about the students and helping them grow in their yoga practice. So, please weigh in, students and teachers alike. Do you like to hear/give the yoga-pose cues in Sanskrit or English? And why? What makes you most at ease and helps you get out of your mind and into your body during yoga class?
Let the battle (this is a love battle, not a vicious battle) begin! Hmmm, maybe next time I’ll do a battle of the yoga poses—Warrior 1 versus Warrior 2.