Devanagari and Sanskrit

The word itself, Sanskrit (Sanskrta) means “language brought to formal perfection.”

The word Sanskrit, in Sanskrit, is spelled Saṁskṛta, and means “refined”, “consecrated” , “sanctified” or “complete”. Sanskrit is an exquisite language from ancient India whose beauty and design set it apart from ordinary language. Sanskrit has been used to pass down accumulated knowledge in the sciences of yoga, medicine (Ayurveda), astronomy/astrology (Jyotisha), sound (Mantra), mathematics, stories, traditions and much more,  from generation to generation aurally (via chanting) and in writing.

Sound is the highest priority in Sanskrit. Pronunciation is extremely important, since all sound has an energetic effect.  In the beginning, the sacred texts called Veda-s were not written down, only chanted. Having a language that is 100% phonetic made it much easier to preserve these sacred sounds.

“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, analytic and intuitive, scientific and spiritual become one.”
–  Vyaas Houston

Language is a way of communicating, and has a grammar which defines its word and sentence formation. To write a language on paper, you need a script. (In English, we use what is called Roman script, which consists of the written letters a through z.) The Sanskrit language is usually written in a script called Devanagari.

Devanagari/Sanskrit Alphabet with Transliteration


Chanting Sanskrit forms a direct link to the vibrations of ancient India through the essence of sound.

Sanskrit was designed for sound and the profound teachings of India have been preserved through chanting –  preserving the essence of their meaning.

In order to chant properly, having correct pronunciation for the Sanskrit words is an important focus. Focusing on the correct pronunciation enhances the true vibration of whatever intention and  energy that word represents.( This is especially true for chanting mantras, since they are recited hundreds and thousands of times in order to produce a particular effect.)

Yoga & Chant

Astanga Yoga traditionally has both an opening chant and a closing chant. Because of Yoga’s ancient roots, chants (or mantras) are offered in Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), however their meaning is said to be universal as Sanskrit is the language of the heart.

Chanting acts to shift the consciousness of the individual practicing the chant to a higher level of vibration. This in turn brings us closer to our Source or Higher Self – the aspect of ourselves that remains eternal – and leaves the practitioner filled with peace and feeling calm and centred.

Studies have shown that when a person chants it can stabilise their heart rate, lower blood pressure, produce beneficial endorphins in the body and boost metabolic processes, so it perfectly compliments the physical practice of asana.

Sacred Texts

The eight limbs:

  • Yama ( 5 social rules): Ahimsa: non-violence, satya: truthfulness, asteya: no stealing, brahmacarya: celibancy, aparigraha: not having the desire to possess.
  • Niyama (the 5 personal rules): sauca: cleaning, santosa: be satisfied, tapas: austerity, svadhyaya: study of scriptures, ishvara: pranidhana: abandonment to God
  • Asana (Posture)
  • Pranayama (Breath Control)
  • Pratyahara (Control of the Senses)
  • Dharana (Concentration)
  • Dhyana (Meditation, parting with the object of meditation)
  • Samadhi (Meditation, union with everything, there is no separation)

Yoga sutras – the four chapters:

  1. Samadhi Pada – Samadhi means a state of bliss in which the meditator is absorbed into his consciousness. This chapter reveals what is samadhi and how to achieve it. Samadhi Pada contains the famous verse: Yoga calms the mental modifications.
  2. Sadhana Pada – Sadhana means discipline or practice. In this chapter Patanjali reveals two types of yoga: Karma Yoga (yoga of action) and Ashtanga Yoga (eight limbs of yoga). The most important one is the karma yoga in the Bhagavad Gita in which Krishna exhorts Arjuna to act selflessly, without yearning for the fruits of his actions. Ashtanga yoga consists of eight parts of the Raja Yoga.
  3. Vibhuti Pada – Vibhuti means manifestation of power. It is believed that a yoga practitioner with conscience can get superhuman powers. But, you should avoid lust after obtaining the powers and focus exclusively on the attainment of liberation.
  4. Kaivalya Pada – Kaivalya means moksha or liberation. This is the ultimate goal of yoga. Kaivalya Pada reveals its true nature.

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali PDF

© Copyright - Danielle Godfrey