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Intro to Sanskrit for Yogis - a 3 part series

  • Ashtanga Yoga Napa Valley 2931 Solano Avenue Napa, CA, 94558 United States (map)

Join Seth Powell, PhD Candidate at Harvard University, for an exciting in person 3 class intensive that will provide you with an in-depth introduction to Sanskrit

Sunday Sep 9, 10-12pm (2 hours)
Sunday Sep 23, 10-12pm (2 hours)
Sunday Sep 30, 10-12pm (2 hours)

Sanskrit is one of the most ancient languages in the world, and is the lingua franca of yoga. In ancient and medieval India, Sanskrit was the dominant intellectual, spiritual, and cosmopolitan language—its literature and scriptures spreading across the broader South and Southeast Asian world. It is said to be the language of the gods—the “perfected” language (saṃskṛta). For some, it is revered as the language and voice (vāc) of the entire cosmos, the vibratory ground of reality itself. Hundreds of yoga scriptures were written in Sanskrit on palm-leaf manuscripts, only a small percentage of which survive today. For thousands of years, sacred Sanskrit mantras—efficacious sound technologie —have been chanted, sung, and meditated upon for spiritual benefit. Innumerable hymns, works of poetry, literature, dramas, and philosophical treatises have been composed in this beautiful, complex, and ancient Indo-European language.

In this 3-part workshop students will be exposed to this rich legacy of Sanskrit’s literary past, and guided through a unique experience of studying the Sanskrit language today. We begin with a brief introduction to the history of Sanskrit—learning about its grammatical nature, scripts, literature, and Sanskrit’s unique role as the purveyor of yogic wisdom through its precise syllabary. We will then learn to pronounce the Sanskrit alphabet, scientifically arranged in accordance with the human vocal apparatus. In this course we will focus our attention towards learning how Sanskrit is represented phonetically in Roman characters with “diacritic” marks. Learning only a few rules of Sanskrit in transliteration will allow anyone who can read English to pronounce any Sanskrit word properly. As we proceed we will build our Sanskrit vocabulary, giving attention to the correct pronunciation of the names of common yogic terminology and postures (āsana). Slowly, we will progress towards chanting a few Sanskrit mantras, some short sūtras from the Yogasūtra of Patañjali, building towards our “peak” practice—the recitation of traditional verses (śloka) from yogic scriptures.

Participants will walk away with:

• A deeper appreciation for Sanskrit’s rich spiritual and literary history
• A brief introduction to Sanskrit grammar
• An understanding of how to read Sanskrit in transliteration (i.e. in the Roman alphabet)                            
• Knowledge of the most commonly mispronounced Sanskrit words in the yoga world
• Confidence in their ability to correctly pronounce yogic terms in Sanskrit

Note: All participants will receive a complimentary copy of Seth’s unpublished handbook, Yogabhāṣā: The Language of Yoga.

This course is eligible for 6 hours of CE credit with Yoga Alliance

Tuition for the 3 class series is $65.00
AYNV Members receive a 15% discount


About Seth
Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions, and is the founder of Yogic Studies. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern Sanskrit yoga texts and traditions, as well as their intersections with the culture and practice of modern transnational yoga. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA). As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts workshops and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country.