The Om of Yoga
Sanskrit is an ancient language that is still used in yogic practices. Although it is not currently a “spoken” language (Hindi is the predominant language spoken in Northern India today), it remains important because it is considered a “sacred” language. That may sound like a strange idea in a culture like ours that has no equivalent.
The idea behind using Sanskrit names for postures or chanting the sound of OM or knowing other chants and mantras in the original Sanskirt is that sound works on a vibrational level, and not just on a literal level. So translating a Sanskrit chant is often besides the point, but uttering it correctly is everything.
I study Sanskrit as part of my research and doctoral studies and find it difficult as a language with all its rules on combining sounds (called samdhi). But before I studied Sanskrit grammar I was already working with the power of Sanskrit sounds in my chanting and mantra repetitions.
You might say that I learned to sing in Sanskrit before I ever learned to read it. And this type of learning is perhaps why Sanskrit has remained alive and sacred to yogic practitioners. It resonates without us fully knowing how or why.