Stephanie B.'s introduction of the above topic on Wellsphere generated quite a flurry of comments from all sides of the fence. Nirmala R.'s response was well put :
"To reiterate, I can see how the usage of both English and Sanskrit may benefit the unseasoned practitioner, but personally, I don't need to replace "SURYA NAMASKAR" with "Sun Salutation" simply for the purpose that I am a predominantly English speaker. I think I have a preference for the Sanskrit words not only for their BEAUTY and POETRY, but because of the HISTORICAL CONTEXT of the practice.
To me, it's similar to Latinate taxonomy--we don't go around back-translating medical/scientific terms into English willy-nilly because they'd be easier to understand. Respect for the annals of human experience, in addition to the simple need to acknowledge that English itself is an extremely hybridized language, make me that much more open to embracing life, even when it's in an unfamiliar tongue."
And here's what I had to say on the subject 2 years ago (archives?,heh heh) via Julie Diefe of LA YOGA Magazine :
"As proposed by Jivamukti NY’s David Life and Sharon Gannon, a class is a vigorous, physical and spiritual practice that incorporates bhakti. “ Sanskrit is the language of yoga”. It is a vernacular of healing and sacred sound vibration and as such is the dialect of mantra. Encoded in its alphabetic structure are subtle shifts of energetic resonance.
And this via the Indian Mirror: Asanas are the physical faces behind the yogic balance of body mind and spirit. Most asanas have Sanskrit names, which often signify a resemblance to a creature of nature. Some denote vegetative life; others are named after deities, sages, insects, reptiles or mammals. When performing asanas, the body assumes many of these life forms.
Through asanas, human organism is brought several steps closer to nature.
For practitioners who would like to deepen their knowledge of Sanskrit asanas, there are several resources available:
Sanskrit Studies Online: Manorama, the director of the School of Sanskrit Studies in NYC, provides a CD entitled “ Learn to Pronounce Yoga Poses “.
Santosha.com is an online resource for the practice of yoga postures that has an easy index interface.
Nicolai Brachman’s “ The Language of Yoga “ is an interactive book + 2 CD set which includes more than 200 asanas with illustrated yoga postures & 300 Sanskrit definitions.
My own personal resource is Christina Brown’s “ The Yoga Bible “. Christina is a teacher from Sydney, Australia; and has come up with a comprehensive guide to yoga postures. Each posture is titled in English with accompanying Sanskrit name, image, explanation, adjustment, sequence – It is all here.
Perhaps the most comprehensive title available in major bookstore chains is “ The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga “ by Srivata Ramaswami. Ramaswami is one of Krishnamacharya’s long time students. He seeks to codify his guru’s teachings via the book.
Ultimately, a consistent practice is inspiring, challenging and transforming.
The best way to connect with this powerful force and energy is to understand the language of yoga, open the body, open the heart and communicate.
The resulting ability to fathom a vinyasa like “ SURYA NAMASKAR “ in its totality eventually leads to one’s ability to, just like the Sun, dispel darkness."