The Importance of Sanskrit
Gannon is a renowned yoga master, instructor and animal rights activist. In 1984, she and her partner David Life created the Jivamukti Yoga Method, which is a path to enlightenment through compassion for all beings. They are pioneers in teaching yoga as spiritual activism/activation. The JY Method emphasizes vinyasa, scriptural study, devotion, prayer, music, chanting and meditation as well as animal rights, veganism, environmentalism and political activism.
Jivamukti's passionate focus on the original meaning of the Sanskrit word "asana" as seat, connection, relationship to the earth is as practical as it is radical at this time of global and consciousness shift. The Jivamukti Yoga Method is taught worldwide at Jivamukti Yoga Schools in NYC, Detroit, Toronto, London, Berlin and Munich. The Jivamukti practice is also available on DVDs Yoga Journal has recognized Gannon and Life, as innovators in Yoga and "The New York Times" says, "Without Jivamukti, yoga in the U.S. would still be the obscure practice of a few."
"Time Magazine" recognized Jivamukti Yoga as one of the nine methods of Hatha Yoga taught in the world today. JY is featured in the acclaimed documentary film: What is Yoga? Sharon is a featured yogini in various books: "Yoga" by Linda Sparrowe, "American Yoga" by Carrie Schneider, "Yogini" by Janice Gates and "Women to Women" by Christina Lessa.
Topic: The Importance of Sanskrit
Sharon Gannon: Okay, and am I missing a tenet? Sanskrit. Ha, ha. Sanskrit and scripture. Really it’s scripture, and Sanskrit is part of that tenet. We feel that it gives validity to our method, which is an American-born created method of yoga. It’s not that we invented yoga. We certainly did not; but it’s our own style or way of teaching it.
But without acknowledgement of the ancient yogic scriptures, then I feel that there wouldn’t be any validity to our style; that it would just be some modernization, Americanized, dumbing down version of an ancient practice. And I don’t feel that’s not what we’re doing. So we back everything up with scripture – yogic scripture – primarily from the ___________ yoga sutra, the ___________. And ___________. Those are our primary scriptural sources.
And we teach Sanskrit. We teach Sanskrit in our classes every time because we teach the students to actually chant scriptures and little sutras, which is actually very empowering for the students to learn these things, and to use their own voices in chanting. Because as a culture we tend to be very inhibited about our voices. And we can go to an exercise class and shut up and listen to loud music and do aerobics, or get on a bike and do spinning and all that; but we tend not to feel that exercising our voice is part of a whole physical “get in shape” regime or practice you know? And so we have a lot of fear, and inhibition, and shyness wrapped up in using our voice in public, unless we are trained speakers or trained singers.
So yoga is about developing self-confidence – true self-confidence, meaning connection to that higher self. And so in order to develop that, we have to let go of shyness. We have to pierce through that inhibition; that “What I say doesn’t really isn’t significant. I can’t really say anything intelligent.”
And we have found a beautiful way to do that is get people to chant in Sanskrit. Sanskrit isn’t really that exotic and foreign of a language to any of us because it is really the base language to all the Indo-European languages. And definitely English is one of those language. So it’s actually getting back to our roots. And it’s very freeing to sit in a room full of people and chant – chant these beautiful Sanskrit words, because they are beautiful. They have a musicality to them. And then when you are told the translation, then you’re even more empowered because you’re actually learning their language as well.
And actually it’s a way that you can tell if you’re making progress in your practice of __________ yoga will come through the sound of your voice. Your voice will change. You will be able to control it more. You will be able to be aligned more with your own heart and with your own mind. Not only will you be able to control the volume and the pitch, but most importantly you will be able to say what you mean and to mean what you say, which is actually quite rare these days.
Recorded on: October 31, 2007
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