when i started yoga–around the turn of the century–each asana had two names. one was the sanskrit name and one was the translation. bhujangasana, cobra. dhanurasana, bow. natarajasana, king dancer.
these days, it seems every pose has a hundred names. none in sanskrit and none in translation. classic asana nomenclature has transformed into modern slang. enter wild thing, gorilla, and clam.
while the world seems unfazed by this departure, i see it quite differently. i see it as the bastardization of a sacred practice that has been depleted of all spirituality or connection to anything greater than a butt muscle.
the question was brought up in my last teacher training, why do teachers need to know the sanskrit and translations? why not just the made up names that are simple, familiar, and relatable?
my answer: why not replace jesus’s name in the bible with “bob”? i mean, in modern american society, there are 427,589 bobs to every jesus. surely that is simple, more familiar, and more relatable.
while i am not comparing yoga to christianity, i am likening two deeply profound and spiritual practices. if you read the yoga sutras, the whole practice is predicated on ishvara pranidhana, submission to a higher power. not scissors pose.
i don’t believe this practice was meant to cater to the lowest common denominator and i do believe that teachers and students alike are enriched by honoring the original intent of its creators.
i guess, at the heart of it, i am a traditionalist. i have a deep and profound respect for this practice that has transformed my life and the lives of so very many others.
if jesus were a yogi (and many may argue he was), what would jesus do? or bob…?