Learning Yoga Asanas in Sankrit

“You must be kidding me!” That was what I responded to Master Sree and Master Paulu upon hearing to qualify for a yoga teacher, being able to say the yoga asanas in sanskrit is part of the deal! I frowned upon hearing it. It’s a foreign language. Why can’t I say or teach in English? It’s easier to understand and definitely effortlessly to pronounce. For example downward facing dog in sanskrit is Adho Mukha Svanasana. What a long sentence to remember. Forward fold is Uttanasana and chair pose is Utkatasana. I’m like gosh they sound and spell almost the same to me. How am I going to remember them without confusing myself? Master Paulu proceeded to explain that the original Yoga texts were written in Sanskrit. This age old language is believed to be more effective and powerful because of its spiritual sound quality.


I was sharing this with a Yogini friend of mine. She said that Sanskrit helps to connect us with the origins of practice. By saying the name and doing the pose together creates the unity of the body and sound. I told her that despite going for classes regularly, I still have difficulty remembering the names. She shared that it’s actually pretty easy. Like every pose has the word asana in it as it means pose. It is important to understand the roots and the common words first. For instance

Urdhva means upward hence upward facing dog is Urdhva mukha Svanasana

Adho means downward hence downward facing dog is Adho mukha Svanasana


So long I can remember the meaning, it’s easier to relate to the poses and remembering them in sanskrit. Now it’s making more sense to me.  It’s still tough for me to remember all of them though. But I’m getting there…

Healing through yoga

I was first introduced to Yoga around 15 years ago. It was at one of the local community centres. During that time, I wanted to follow my peers and be active hence I joined them. After 16 sessions, I’ve completed the term and stopped going to yoga.

About 7 years later, I wanted to be active again but hated cardio exercises hence decided to give yoga a try and turn out that I pretty like it and went on to sign up for a year member with Pure Yoga. Shortly, I was pregnant with my 2nd child and have to cut down on my choice of classes. After my second child was born, I hardly have time for myself so I stopped going yoga. It was hard juggling with work and a new born. Then came my 3rd child hence my focus was family.

Early this year, I decided to give Zumba a try after persuasion from my neighbours. I didn’t quite like it. So my neighbours suggested Yoga. I was on the fence as I was tired and aching everywhere. What if I don’t like it or half-hearted again. I rather be off sleeping or accompanying my family.

One fine morning, I just have this feeling that I should give it another shot thus I agreed with my neighbours to start off once a week for 8 lessons and hired Rachel from Tirisula Yoga to teach us. I felt so good after the first lesson that I fall back in love right away. I found myself googling to find out more about yoga and the classes being offered locally so that I can go for more classes weekly. I’ve also learnt that it will help to alleviate my constant right heel ache and right lower backache (sometimes it gets so bad that I can’t walk).

After some research, I’ve decided to go back to pure yoga as the centres are near my work place and I could go for yoga during lunch time and not on the expense of my family time. I was contemplating to sign up for membership as I don’t know if I will be discipline enough but I was glad I made the choice. Weeks after I start my classes, (going to yoga 3-5x a week), gone are my heel ache and lower back ache. I shared with my buddy, Silvy (who is a yogi for years) that I’m very impressed with the power of Yoga.

Then one Saturday, I was at the Hougang library with my children. They were exploring the kids section and to the corner of my eye, some yoga books were on the table display. It was the theme for the week. I felt like it was calling for me to reach out to the books and one particular book caught my eye, Yoga for a happy back by Rachel Krentzman. Hence I proceeded to borrow it. Shortly after I started to read it, I was full of intrigue and eager to learn more. I told Rachel about it and to my surprise, she shared that there is a TTC buddy programme going on in Tirisula.

I shared with Silvy on the programme and she was very interested as well. So here we are, on the journey to learning more about the science and the power of Yoga. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I have stopped going for therapy and acupuncture. And I am thankful that I didn’t give in to my doubts and proceeded for my calling.

Nerissa Kok