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A huge thank you to our wonderful teacher training instructor Marcy Braverman Goldstein, PhD, Professor of Religious Studies at UNCC, and founder of Sanskrit Revolution for sharing such wonderful information.  All information on this page is sourced directly and complied from her website at www.sanskritrevolution.com and her Facebook page!  Please follow her facebook page for more information posted regularly!  Here we will simplu compile the information for reference for our students and fellow yogis!

How do you say "Sanskrit" in Sanskrit, and what does it mean?!?

Sanskrit ~ samskrta   It means "put together, completely formed, perfected, purified, refined, highly elaborated. . ."   "Saṃskṛta" is an adjective that comes to mean the perfectly constructed language whose sounds convey meaning and whose vibrations are healing. It is traditionally known to be the language of the gods and the source of the universe.


  • say each short 'a' like the 'A' and 'a' in 'America'

  • say vowel ‘r’ like the ‘r’ in “acre," the ‘rri’ in “merrily”


The verbal root of ‘āsana’ is /ās (to sit, rest; to be present; to do anything without interruption; to celebrate). Picking apart this word adds meaning to it beyond 'physical posture, seat.' Each āsana is a restful place to be present without interruption, a celebration.  It also means 'the front part of an elephant's body,' among other things.

To say ‘āsana,’ stress the initial long 'ā,' and pronounce it like the 'a' in 'father.' The other short 'a' vowels should be pronounced like the 'A' and 'a' in 'America.'

Top Ten Mispronounced Āsana-s

#10 mālāsana

Is your mālāsana an unintended malāsana?  These words have different pronunciations and very different meanings.

  • mālā - garland . . . say long 'ā' like the 'a' in 'father'
  • mala - impurity . . . say short 'a' like the 'A' and 'a' in 'America'

#1-9 coming soon!

"Utkaṭāsana" commonly referred to as "chair-pose" does not mean

The word "utkaṭa" does not mean "chair," yet many people use "chair-pose" and "utkaṭāsana" interchangeably.

What does "utkaṭa" really mean?!?

The multiple meanings of 'utkaṭa' - exceeding the usual measure, immense, gigantic, drunk, mad, furious, proud, haughty, fluid dropping from the temples of an elephant in rut, the plant Saccharum Sara, intoxication (Monier-Williams, p. 175, c)

Must we exceed the usual measure of discipline to maintain this pose? Does it make us feel furious, haughty, or intoxicated? Immense? Do we sweat like an elephant in rut?

And there’s more: 'kaṭa' can mean the area of the hips and the prefix 'ut/ud' means up, upwards, above, etc.

The English words we commonly use probably stem from B.K.S. Iyengar's comment: "Utkaṭa means powerful, fierce, uneven. This āsana is like sitting on an imaginary chair" (Light on Yoga, p. 88).

To pronounce it --

  • say short 'u' like the 'u' in 'put'
  • say short 'a' like the 'A' and 'a' in 'America'
  • say lingual/cerebral 'ṭ' by allowing the slightly curled tip of the tongue to strike the sloping-forward palate of the mouth

lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu // May all people throughout the world be happy!

  • lokāḥ - people, world
  • samastāḥ - all, whole
  • sukhino - possessing happiness
  • bhavantu - may they be

A few misspellings of this verse in Roman and Devanāgarī scripts float around the internet. These are correct!

To say it, pronounce:

  • each long 'ā' like the 'a' in 'father'
  • each 'ḥ' as an 'h' and an echo of the previous 'ā'
  • each short 'a' like the 'A' and 'a' in 'America'
  • each short 'u' like the 'u' in 'put'
  • aspirated 'kh' as 'k' with extra breath afterwards
  • aspirated 'bh' as 'b' with extra breath afterwards

lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhanvantu // May all people throughout the world be happy!

Bhakti or Devotion

Everyone knows that "bhakti" means "devotion." So why is it defined first as "distribution, partition, separation. . . a division, portion, share" (Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 743, a)?!?    Farther down the lengthy definition, it says "attachment, devotion, trust, homage, worship. . . love" (743, b).  

From the verbal root /bhaj "to divide, share. . . partake of, enjoy (also carnally), possess. . . engage in, experience, feel. . . serve, honor, revere, love, adore" (743, a).

The word "bhakti" encompasses more than what the English word "devotion" conveys. "Bhakti" is a person's direct, intense experience of sharing in and partaking of divine presence (differently named by various traditions). A devotee honors, reveres, loves, and adores God in a way that possibly leads to an experience of union with or identity as the essential nature of reality.

Depending on tradition, there is a real or perceived "partition, separation, or division" between the devotee and God, which is what catalyzes the experience of "bhakti."

auṃ namaḥ śivāya

Have you ever wondered what the 'āya' is doing at the end of the name 'śiva' in the mantra 'auṃ namaḥ śivāya'?

  • aum - primordial sound of the universe = Brahman = ātman; see Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad for an explanation of 'a, u, m' in the syllable 'aum'
  • namaḥ - obeisance, reverential salutation, honor; from the verbal root /nam 'to bend or bow'
  • śiva - auspicious, benevolent. . . The Auspicious One, The Paradigmatic Yogi, husband of Pārvatī, Consciousness, etc.; from the verbal root /śī 'to lie down, recline, rest'
  • 'śivāya' - grammatically, this is the dative singular form of the noun 'śiva' meaning 'to/for śiva.'
  • 'namaḥ śivāya' means 'honor to śiva' . . . encompassing what 'śiva' means to you


Marcy's favorite Sanskrit word - muditā, from verbal root /mud (be happy, rejoice). . . . sympathetic joy, joy in another person's happiness, success, and joy. See Yoga Sūtra 1.33 and the Brahma Vihāra (Sublime States) from the Buddha's teachings. To say it, stress the final long 'ā', and pronounce it like the 'a' in 'father.'

'duḥkha' (suffering)

The etymology of the word 'duḥkha' (suffering). Of the Buddha's Four Noble Truths, Noble Truth #1 means "Life is 'duḥkha'" = 'duḥ' (bad) + 'kha' (axle-hole); suffering is having a bad axle-hole, i.e. a broken chariot (5th c. B.C.E.) or a broken car (21st c C.E.).  Everything is impermanent, including our vehicles and also the suffering we experience when they break down.

May we all experience 'sukha' (a good axle-hole, happiness), balance in the ups and downs of life (sama-duḥkha-sukha) (Bhagavadgītā 2.15), and freedom from suffering and whatever enslaves you!

To say 'duḥkha,' pronounce the short vowel 'u' like the 'u' in 'put', and then pronounce the 'ḥ' as an 'h' with an echo of the previous 'u'. Add to that an aspirated 'kh,' which is 'k' with extra breath afterwards. Finally, the short vowel 'a' is pronounced like the 'A' and 'a' in 'America.'

Not an easy word to say. Hope it doesn't cause you too much 'duḥkha.'

Sanskrit Information

  • Yoga Club's Old Sanskrit Manual including information from Marcy Braverman Goldstein.  Please note that this manual has been updated for Marcy's current Sanskrit Revolution Immersions.  However, this old manual is still great reading so enjoy! 







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