Study and immerse in the Sanskrit language at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home.
Engage in the traditional practice of "Self-Study," using the latest in modern online learning technologies.
Join a thriving online community of yoga teachers, practitioners, and students from around the world.
Join Seth Powell, PhD Candidate at Harvard University, for an exciting journey, exploring the fascinating history, theory, and practice of one of the world's most ancient, sacred, and continuously used languages.
This course will provide students with a basic primer on Sanskrit grammar, pronunciation, and syntax—focusing on yogic terminology, āsana names, sūtras, and ślokas. Each module will include short video lectures, pronunciation exercises, new Sanskrit vocabulary, and short quizzes to reinforce your knowledge as you go!
*No prior experience or language training is required.
What is Sanskrit? Why is it considered the language of the gods (devavāṇī)? And the language of yoga? This first module will provide a brief history of this ancient “perfected” (saṃskṛta) language—from the Vedic period to contemporary India. We will then begin learning to pronounce the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet, arranged in accordance with the human vocal apparatus. We will be using the familiar Roman “script”, learning the common rules of Sanskrit transliteration and diacritic marks.
After a review of the Sanskrit alphabet and pronunciation guide, the second module will provide a simplified introduction into the complex architecture of classical Sanskrit grammar (vyākaraṇa). We will look at the nature and construction of Sanskrit verbs and nouns, gender, number, and case, compounds, the rules of sound conjunction (sandhi), and sentence syntax. We’ll take a look at examples from Sanskrit texts and common mantras to get a tangible sense of how this all plays out.
The third module will focus on the name and meaning of many of the common yogic postures (āsana). We’ll give attention to the particular ways in which so many of the postures are named after animals, renowned yogis and sages, or bodily parts. We will unpack these fun Sanskrit compounds, break down their etymology, and shine new light on the meaning of well-known postural formations like “Warrior Pose”, “Extended Side Angle” and “Shoulder Stand.” As usual, there will be a strong focus on pronunciation here, especially aimed at yoga teachers and practitioners who are incorporating many of these āsanas in their practice.
In the final module we will review what has come before, building towards our “peak” Sanskrit practice: the recitation and breakdown of select sūtras and ślokas. We will closely examine selections from Patañjali’s Yogasūtra and verses from a range of Sanskrit yoga treatises including the Bhagavadgītā and Haṭhapradīpikā. We will also give some attention here to Sanskrit meter, syntax, and recitation traditions.
All enrolled students will receive immediate access to download a complimentary digital copy (PDF) of the 50-page course workbook, Yogabhāṣā: A Concise Introduction to the Sanskrit Language for Yoga Teachers and Practitioners. The online course is built around this text, offering a fun and accessible way to begin learning Sanskrit, aimed especially at yogis.
Also included is your complimentary download of the Yogabhāṣā Audio Companion, with 14 audio tracks (MP3) to further guide your study and pronunciation practice!SIGN UP TODAY
Seth Powell is a longtime practitioner of yoga and a scholar of Indian religions, Sanskrit, and yoga traditions, and is the founder of Yogic Studies. He is currently a PhD Candidate in South Asian Religions at Harvard University, where he is writing his dissertation on the history, theory, and practice of medieval and early modern yoga traditions. Seth also holds degrees in the study of religion from the University of Washington (MA) and Humboldt State University (BA). He has taught and lectured for numerous university courses on the religions and literature of India, Hinduism, Buddhism, and yoga traditions, and presents his research regularly at international conferences.
As a scholar-practitioner, Seth is gifted in his ability to present the ancient teachings of yoga clearly in an accessible, light-hearted, and inspiring manner—while maintaining a rigor and sensitivity to traditional Indian knowledge systems. Seth conducts workshops and lectures regularly on the history and philosophy of yoga at studios, teacher trainings, and universities around the country.
"Seth Powell is at the forefront of a new generation of yoga scholars, and rare among them in that he combines textual studies, fieldwork in India, and a practical understanding of yoga in his scholarship. It’s great that he’s reaching out beyond the academy to share his hard-earned knowledge."
"Seth Powell has created courses for Yogic Studies that engage the yoga practitioner in an honest, insightful and inspiring dialogue, bringing ancient practices into modern conversations. By illuminating the historical, cultural and social context of yoga, we come to see and understand the emergence and popularity of modern postural yoga as an ever evolving expression of the seeker’s journey toward self-development and ultimately self realization."
"As a long time student and teacher, I feel lucky to have found Seth Powell and Yogic Studies. It's such a gift to have access to easily understandable and current information about the long and complex history of yoga. Seth has the special skill of making this esoteric material accessible and enjoyable to all of us."
"I cannot recommend Seth's course highly enough. He is a passionate, personable, and knowledgeable lecturer who is inspired by continued learning. He has the ability to present the complexity of the material in a clear and accessible manner and is always willing to answer questions mindfully. I looked forward to each week's release with anticipation. I felt very much part of a global community all wanting to learn and to grow through curiosity. All the while I was able to do this from my home so it was not disruptive to (family) life. I look forward to continuing my studies with him."
"As a yoga practitioner and teacher for the last 20 years I have always valued the importance of studying Yoga philosophy and have tried to integrate it into my life and practice. Yet there was always some missing links in that knowledge as I tried to bridge the gap between theory and practice. In the courses I’ve taken with Yogic Studies a whole new perspective on what Yoga is, and how we got to where we are today, has been revealed, and a sense of inquiry and a new found interest has been sparked within myself. Seth has a great ability to share these ancients teachings, and the latest scholarly research, in a way that promotes a sense of open-minded inquiry. I highly recommend his courses to all students and teachers of Yoga."
You will have indefinite access to this course and its materials. There is no time limit to complete the course!
Each of the four modules include pre-recorded video lectures, exercises, new Sanskrit vocabulary, example sentences or verses, pre-recorded Q&A sessions with students from around the world, and short quizzes to reinforce your knowledge as you go!
All students will receive a digital PDF copy of Seth's unpublished Sanskrit workbook, Yogabhāṣā: A Brief Introduction to the Sanskrit Language for Yoga Teachers and Practitioners, which will be the primary text for the course. Recommendations will be made for additional readings and further study.
Nope! You are not expected to be some kind of language aficionado or autodidact polyglot ;)
This course assumes no prior knowledge or experience in Sanskrit language training.
No—only if you want to. For the purposes of this introductory course, we will focus our energies on reading/pronouncing Sanskrit using the already familiar Roman (i.e., English) alphabet, through understanding the proper Sanskrit diacritic and transliteration system. Recommendations and resources will be provided, however, for those who wish to gain fluency in the Devanāgarī script. (This will be discussed further in Module 1).
Yes! Upon completion of the course, you will be eligible for an official Yogic Studies certificate of completion.
This is a bonus feature for those who are Registered Yoga Teachers (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. Once you've completed the course you can login to your YA account, search for the course in their registry, and add the course and your hours. Once Yogic Studies has received a confirmation request, we can confirm your CE hours.
If for some reason you are unsatisfied with the course, contact us in the first 30 days and we will issue you a full refund! See, you have nothing to lose. So what are you waiting for? : )