“The extraordinary thing about Sanskrit is that it offers direct accessibility by anyone to that elevated plane where the two, mathematics and music, brain and heart, analytical and intuitive, scientific and spiritual become one.” – Vyaas Houston
Sanskrit is the oldest most continually used language in the world and may represent the oldest and most original form of human language. It is a language based on vibration, and is extremely precise, both in meaning and sound. Sanskrit is the language upon which yoga was built; from ancient spiritual texts, to mantras, to asana names. It is a very specific, logical, beautiful, spiritual language.
Sanskrit has the largest collection of literature of any language; from the Vedas and great epics (Mahabharata and Ramayana) that shaped Hindu philosophy, mythology and religion, to works on science, astrology and mathematics. As an unambiguous natural language, it is the only language we know of that can be logically understood by computers and can be translated into binary code.
Vedic teaching considers the whole world to be made up of sound, and all knowledge to be expressed through sound. When the texts are pronounced correctly the knowledge permeated in them is transmitted, as sanskrit is inseparable from the knowledge of yoga and the scriptures
The Relevance of Sanskrit Studies in the Practice of Yoga
When sanskrit is approached just like yoga, it can become a spiritual practice in itself, and a great compliment to your already established yoga practice. The process of learning sanskrit can be a very similar process to learning asana, and can be just as much a tool in cultivating awareness and learning to understand and control the mind. We learn to navigate through the process of identifying, understanding and expanding our limits. Progressing. Learning. We can both apply and experience all of patañjali’s 8 limbs in the process. Working directly with the mind, learning how to detach from ourselves, we begin to be able to concentrate so much we become completely absorbed in the subject matter, until everything else, including ourselves, the sense of ‘I’, disappears.
When we start a yoga practice, we start by creating awareness. Learning to feel and understand our body and how it relates to the space around it. We find the floor and a sense of grounding, and through it an energetic connection that creates stability and ease. We become aware of our breathing patterns and learn how to control them. At first we can feel very clumsy, but as we understand to control and regulate our energies we begin to find balance. In learning sanskrit we go through the exact same process. We start by bringing awareness to the mouth and tongue. We use them in ways we’ve never experienced before. Sounds might be very exaggerated at first but as we get a better understanding of finding and using the correct mouth positions we begin to find more refinement. As we cultivate awareness, we begin to feel the vibration, in our mouths, our throats, our head and our entire bodies. We begin to find rhythm. We begin to find flow. Just like asana, we find the perfect balance between effort and ease.
Going from the gross to the subtle, we bring our bodies and minds into such a state of vibration that we can begin to experience ourselves as pure energy rather that just solid matter. We acquire a deeper sense of awareness, concentration and dedication, becoming open to transformation.