New book offers a new approach to Sanskrit

Here’s a quick break from coverage of Tim Miller’s Third Series Teacher Training and — I know this will break your hearts — my recapping my surfing. (Low tide on Wednesday after pranayama, so walled and closed out, but it did not deter me. If Ashtanga has helped me in no other way, it’s enabled me to delight in the moment of surfing.)

Over at Namarupa, they have an interview with Zoë Slatoff-Ponté, who has written a textbook — that seems to be the agreed upon description — on Sanskirt. It’s titled Yogavataranam: The Translation of Yoga. Quick description:

The traditional Indian method of learning Sanskrit is through oral transmission, by first memorizing texts and then learning their meaning. The Western academic approach methodically teaches the alphabet, declensions, grammar, syntax, and vocabulary building. Zoë Slatoff-Ponté’s Yogavataranam integrates the traditional and academic approaches for a full and practical experience of Sanskrit study.

Some of you may recognize her name. She runs Ashtanga Yoga Upper Westside. From Namarupa’s interview:

Namarupa There are obvious differences in how yoga and meditation are taught in India and in the West. Did you find that same thing with Sanskrit, notable differences between how it was taught at Columbia, and how it was taught by your teachers in India? 

From my teachers in India, I learned the importance of chanting. I learned to listen for meaning in the sounds and the importance of the rhythm in translation. At Columbia, I learned to pay attention to detail and the nuance of the grammar. I learned to read commentaries and understand the role that debate played in interpretation of primary texts.

Namarupa Is there a daily Sanskrit studying practice, sort of like we have a daily yoga practice?

Yes, I think Sanskrit is best studied daily, as with yoga practice. I think it is easiest first thing in the morning, when your mind is clear or as much as possible at a consistent quiet time. Even 20 minutes a day will help to keep it in your system and develop a sense of familiarity and fluency.

You can find more at this link to the Namarupa site, including links to purchase the book.

Also, because I’m keeping Bobbie away from the computer, and delaying her teacher training reports a bit, I’ll pass on another resource for those of you wondering what it is like: Todd McLaughlin, from Native Yoga Center in Florida, is staying on track. Find his blog here.

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

One thought on “New book offers a new approach to Sanskrit”

  1. I think this “daily practice” idea is a great one. About ten years ago I started studying Ancient Greek, and I spent an hour a day, every day, reading the Iliad in the original (using a dictionary). I could read about a page a day, and it took me a little more than a year to finish. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

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