The valuable benefits of learning Sanskrit

Why learn Sanskrit as a yoga practitioner or teacher?

Do you know the challenges when you want to say something in your second tongue and just couldn’t find the right word? Or that there is just no good translation for a concept in your own language? The Danes say it’s ‘hygge’. For me as a German I often run into words that I am missing in English like ‘Feierabend’, ‘Ohrwurm’ or ‘Innerer Schweinehund’.

To understand a culture it is said, one needs to understand its language. Whereby I do not think one needs to know the ins and outs, a basic knowledge definitely will open doors to more understanding.

Sanskrit in your yoga philosophy study

Have you ever looked up a word and noticed a multitude of meanings? There is plenty of room for interpretation and hundreds of commentaries for Patanjali’s Sutra or the Bhagavad Gita. High quality commentaries are great. Nevertheless, they are interpretations. As the teachers tell us, yoga needs to be experienced, this includes the study of the ancient scriptures, to find your own wisdom that lies within. A commentary will be helpful, but won’t replace translating, analysing and meditating on a sutra or śloka yourself. Jup, here we go, already two sanskrit words we occasionally use when studying yoga philosophy, and knowing that sutra for example means thread gives Patanjali’s work already a deeper meaning.

The more I study yoga, the more I notice that I am staying on the surface without a basic understanding of the language its foundations are documented in. So I decided to take a Sanskrit for beginners course with Check it out here.

Maybe studying ancient scriptures is a bit overwhelming at this point. But there are other Sanskrit words like, namaste, asana, pranayama we frequently use during our practice. And knowing what the words we use actually mean, is not only authentic but also empowering.

Sanskrit provides us with a deeper understanding

Take the breathing technique nadi shodhana for example. In English we say alternate nostril breathing. As this describes what we physically do, it doesn’t actually translate why we do it and what happens beyond the physical body. Nadis are our energy channels. Left nostril connects to Ida Nadi (Feminine or Moon channel) and right side to Pingala Nadi (Masculine or Sun channel). We use Nadi Shodhana for balancing these energies. Shodhana though means purification or cleansing. So we are also freeing these channels from blockages which will impact Sushumna Nadi (‘joyful mind’ or ‘very gracious’, which is our main energy channel) as well. In this case we are completely missing the deeper meaning of this technique when simply talking about alternate nostril breathing.

Sanskrit helps you to remember yoga posture names

Let’s talk about posture names. I noticed that it was much easier to remember the Sanskrit posture names once I knew the translation. Let’s take adho: down, urdhva: up, or ardha: half.
Recognize these from our up and down dog or our half forward fold?

These are just a few reasons why I feel inspired to study Sanskrit. Let me know in the comments why you think it is empowering to know the language of yoga for your own practice or teachings.


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Reviews of students

Georgiana November 1st, 2022

I met Julia at a retreat and she is an amazing teacher and a really lovely human. I loved how she didn't rush through the process and we really went back to basics, while at the same time learning a wide variety of things about yoga, from how to do a certain asana to yogic wisdom. It was obvious that Julia knows a lot and she is also really good at sharing it with others. She redefined in my mind what a good yoga teacher is.

Eve January 22nd, 2020

Julia is one of the most precious yoga teacher I’ve ever had! I would recommend all her practices with a special mention for her yoga nidra. I got so relaxed and so deeply calmed down by her voice during each session, she helped me letting it go towards either a tight sleep or for restful nap. Very powerful experience and human being. thank you Warrior Princess!

Agnieszka January 21st, 2020

I have had the most relaxing beautiful experience in the yoga Nidra class. Thank you so much 🙏. You are so knowledgeable and your voice so soothing

Sarah February 14th, 2020

Julia ably and effortlessly led a vinyasa class with clear instruction and really helpful assists. She spoke about philosophy just the right amount, there was still plenty of space and quiet to really get into the practice. Thank you Julia!! I loved it

Majbritt May 3rd, 2020

The best yoga in Copenhagen. They are very skilled at Hatha yoga, Yin, and yoga nidra. Julia has a good personality, an she is one of my favorite instructor.

Kim April 1st, 2020

Julia is an amazing teacher. I have had three classes with her so far and she already improved my asanas a lot. I appreciate her hands on experience and eye for detail. Thank you Julia. Big hug! (by the way: her guided meditations are the best!)