headstand, shoulderstand, knee to head pose…

The Sanskrit names of poses are easier to understand when you know a few words. Here is a short song to be sung to the tune of Head and shoulders, knees and toes.

Most of the poses have some loose connection to the English verses. The English spelling of the sanskrit words are not always standard and not all the nuances of pronunciation are conveyed. For instance, a word pronounced “shavasana” is often spelled as “savasana”. Vowel sounds can also be a guessing game. If you are interested in how these are to be pronounced, then I have just the thing for you, Swati’s Sanskrit Sarita CD, a pronunciation guide for the sanskrit names of yoga poses as well as other Sanskrit yoga vocabulary.

The song…

Headstand, shoulder stand, head to knee pose, extended hand to big toe pose, reclining hand to big toe pose. (repeat 2x)

Three-limb face over one foot west side of the body stretch (forward fold)

some sanskritNow in sanskrit…

Sirsasana, Sarvangasana, Janu sirsana, Utthita hasta pandangustasana, Supta pandangustasana  (repeat 2 x)

Trianga mukhaikapada paschimottanasana

Okay, so it’s not my best work, and the last line, which is just one pose, doesn’t translate well into English. If you learn that one, you will appear to know what you are talking about if you can get that one to roll off the tongue. Although I have read other explanations of what the three limbs (trianga) refer to, it makes sense to me that it’s a forward fold, paschimottanasana, with one leg folded back, hence the three limbs are the two arms and one leg. You have your face (mukha) coming over your one leg or foot (ekapada)

Some body parts and poses named after body parts

headstand = sirsasana (sheershasana)

shoulderstand = Sarvangasana

knee = Janu

head = sirsa

foot = pada

hand = hasta

Big toe = angusta

face = mukha

Extended hand to big toe pose – Utthita hasta pandangustasana

Supine hand to big toe pose = supta padangustasana

Some words used in names of poses

asana = pose

supta = supine, lying on the back

utthita = extended

eka = one

dwi = two

tri = three

chatura = four

anga = limb

paschima = west side, the back of the body is considered the west side.

svan = dog

adho = down, as in adho mukha svanasana

urdva = up, as in urdva mukha svanasana

ut = intense

tan = stretch

ardha = half

chandra = moon

virabadra = warrior, as in virabadrasana 1

vira = hero

kona = angle, as in trikonasana

baddha = bound

parsva = side, as in utthita parsvakonasana

parivrtta = revolved, as in parivrtta trikonasana

Sanskrit Sarita CD

Last year, I worked on a small project for my friend and Sanskrit instructor, Swati Fernando. She needed more copies made of a sanskrit pronunciation CD that she recorded a few years ago. I did a little regroovenating to make the CD easier to use. It used to be one continuous track, about 45 minutes long. What I did was divide the recording into separate tracks and listed all the words that are included on the CD. If you would like to buy a copy, contact Swati by email. (swati DOT fernando AT gmail DOT com). She also teaches amazing vegetarian Indian cooking!Sanskrit Sarita

June Written by:


  1. Avatar
    Cindy Scott
    January 23, 2016

    This is excellent June!!

    I can see you have put a ton of work into this.

    Thank you!!

  2. Avatar
    March 5, 2016

    Hurrah hurrah! Love this helpful little post with stick figures a plenty!

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