Posts Tagged With: Buddhism

Sanskrit – the yoga and ancient language from India

If your yoga practice starts to deepen, for sure you will come across Sanskrit: the oldest language known to man. During my regular yoga classes I have learned several Sanskrit names for commonly practised asanas (poses). For example: Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose), Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose), Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose). With my Yoga Teacher’s Training coming up, I’m keen to explore the Sanskrit language more and expand my knowledge.

A dead language

The connection between Sanskrit and yoga has existed since yoga’s beginnings in India. The language has remained crucial in the practice of Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands years. Patanjali’s foundational texts, the Yoga Sutras, were written in Sanskrit, as well as the Vedas, the universally accepted first scriptures of humanity. Nowadays, Sanskrit is considered to be a ‘dead’ language to many, since it has ceased evolving. Although, it is still spoken by many people all over the world and is acknowledged as one of the 22 official languages of India.

The Devas

Sanskrit is even considered to be the origin of language itself. All languages have in some way arisen or evolved from this ancient language. In addition, numerous important works including classic literature and historical texts in the great sciences of astrology, astronomy, medicine, architecture and the physical sciences were written in this ancient language. In India it is believed that Sanskrit is the language of the Devas (Gods). In the 17th century the Western world began to take intellectual interest in Sanskrit and many scholars started to translate classical texts into English and other Western languages.

The perfect language

It is believed that the language of Sanskrit itself arises from the ‘root sounds’ or vibrations of the Universe. The various vowels and consonants of the Sanskrit language represent these root vibrations, also know as bijas. A Sanskrit word is not merely a word chosen to name something, but an actual reflection of the inherent ‘sound’ of that object, concept or phenomena. Therefore, the perfect pronunciation of a Sanskrit word can replicate the essence of that which it is referring too. The Quantum physics clarifies and confirms this, because it has revealed that everything consists of vibration and the primary essence of any object or phenomena could be thought of as its own unique pattern of vibrations. Sanskrit is for this reason referred to as the ‘perfect language’.

Sanskrit Journeys

As a yoga student, I think it is helpful to have an understanding of the Sanskrit language. It is even essential to have knowledge of Sanskrit to study the ancient scriptures and thereby get to know the depth and profoundness of yoga. Since only a fraction of the ancient scriptures has been translated into our contemporary languages. For now, I keep on expanding my Sanskrit knowledge through yoga DVDs, books and yoga classes. During a yoga class I silently repeat the Sanskrit word after I’ve heard my yoga instructor say the name for the pose I am practising. As for learning any new language, repetition is important. You will also realize there are common words which are added at the beginning of poses like ardha (half) in for example Ardha Chandrasana (Balanced Half Moon), urdhva (upward) in Urdhava Makha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog) and adho (downward) in Adho Mukha Svansana (Downward Facing Dog). I’m definitely keen to deepen my Sanskrit knowledge. Please feel invited to share you personal Sanskrit journeys.




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Taming my Monkey Mind

I am barely awake and my mind is overactive already; thinking about the day to come, what to wear, what to eat and if I will take the car or my bicycle to work. Without much notice I digest my breakfast and full of thoughts I experience my bike ride, mostly with my mind focused on the future. This mind you can consider to be a typical monkey mind.

Monkey mind is originally a Buddhist term meaning ‘unsettled, restless, confused, indecisive or uncontrollable’. It refers to the continuous chatter that goes on in your head, a mind that cannot be at rest. Your mind jumps from one thought to the other, producing up to 100,000 thoughts per day! This can drive you nuts for sure. Even if you are reading this, sub-thoughts can be occurring alongside the words your mind absorbs; maybe it’s a silent whisper of judgment, a word of confirmation or what you’ll have for dinner. Swinging from branch to branch, rarely focused solely on one thing, always on the move.

Nowadays there are even more distractions than ever. It is estimated that our brains are bombarded with seven times as much stimuli compared with our grandparents. In addition, most people are working with their mind the whole day, are stuck in traffic jams and experience rising stress levels. Monkey mind alarm!

Luckily, there is a solution for this monkey mind syndrome. Interestingly enough peace is much more nearby than you imagine. More clearly, inner peace is always here, right in this moment: NOW! Sounds easy, isn’t? Though, I know from my own experience that we can make it pretty hard for ourselves. It is rather a process then a single push on a button. A process in which you get to know yourself more, open up, fall and stand up again and always having the possibility to start freshly. It is like looking for your key everywhere, in and around your house and then discover that the key is in your pocket all the time already. So close by, but not aware of it yet.

So what to do? It always helps me not taking myself so seriously and don’t try too hard or fight. What you resist persist. If you feed your monkey mind with attention, energy or fight, it will definitely grow and develop itself, in maybe an aggressive gorilla. It is not the monkey who is the problem, rather our relationship with it. We all have experienced moments of flow. If you do something you really love, time flies by before you know and you’re just doing that one thing you are passionate about. Your mind is still and you’re here, in this moment, in your body. So called peak experiences.

This weekend I was walking in the bush with a group of people. Our planned 4 hour walk turned out to be a 10 hour walk with the last hours barely able to see the marks. There you’re, walking in a cold dark bush, not sure were you’ll end. Not sure how your unfit group member is going to handle at least another hour of tramping including river crossings and steep hills. It makes you aware of this moment while adrenaline is rushing to your body. You’re focused and your energy levels seem to rise in your body even though you’ve walked for hours already. I had thoughts for sure, but not so much as my usually crazy monkey mind. I used my mind as a strength to come to the best solutions and stay focused.

Awareness is the key to transform your monkey mind into a well behaved pet. Through becoming aware of your mind and understand how it work, you become able to change the relationship with your mind. It can even turn out to be a really sweet quiet peaceful little monkey on your shoulder, just here to assist you if you need it. Peace is always here and never goes anywhere. Observe a child and see how joy naturally flows. No mind chattering, just this moment of play and another….  


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