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posture names

yoga postures are named in the ancient language of Sanskrit. In the west we have also given them names, which are often not translations.


some of the Sanskrit names describe the nature of the posture such as:
dvi pāda pīṭham – dvi – two pāda – foot pīṭham – support
Knowing the Sanskrit here is helpful because it tells us something specific about how to do the posture. the English ‘bridge’ describes the shape of this posture.


other names come from Indian mythology such as:
ardha matsyendrāsana – ardha – half Matsyendra – lord of the fishes – āsana – posture
here the western name ‘seated twist’ is of practical help, but the Sanskrit gives us access to the rich tradition in which yoga has arisen.


other postures have names which describe certain characteristics of the posture such as:
daṇḍāsana – daṇḍa – staff – āsana – posture
which relates to the straightness of the base of spine and tells us something of the quality of the posture. here the English is a rare direct translation.


knowing a little of the Sanskrit and the English names adds to the interest, information and flavour in the practice of yoga.