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.
"As a newcomer to Sanskrit, this course gave me a very good sense of the language—its complexity and beauty. Seth explained the basics of grammar, pronunciation, and nuances of Sanskrit in ways that I could understand—and answered all of my questions. I want to be respectful of the culture that yoga comes from and now, at least, I can pronounce pose names correctly!"
"Seth creates an inviting and accessible online learning environment where he shares his wealth of knowledge with humility and grace. Warning! It may be addictive. "
"Seth’s introductory course to Sanskrit has initialized an interest and confidence for further study. I appreciate his effort in providing a well-thought and approachable course for such an important subject. I will recommend this course to any serious students of the subject of Yoga. "
"As an American yoga teacher, I constantly wrestle with concerns about cultural appropriation. While there are no easy answers, Seth Powell's Sanskrit 101 course is a huge help. Seth takes the angle of cultural *appreciation*, and I love that approach to studying a language. Learning the history of classical Sanskrit gave me a more nuanced understanding of the culture from which yoga emerged. And understanding how to actually pronounce the Sanskrit words I use in class is one small, simple way I can help spread appreciation rather than appropriation."
"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."
"This is now the third course I have completed with Seth. Each time I am in awe of how rich and full the content is in such a short amount of time. The Sanskrit 101 course provides a foundation of the basics of grammar and pronunciation but also the richness of the history of this ancient language. It is obvious we are only scratching the surface but it is such a wonderful introduction for further study of the language or I think it can also be stand alone. Seth has a special quality of teaching and these courses have very much enriched my own sādhana. "
"Seth is a great instructor. As a former college professor, I tend to get pretty critical of instructors. I didn't have to with Seth. He explained everything so well. Any questions that were out there, he answered. Seth is excellent and knows his subject matter extremely well. I highly suggest taking any course from him."
"I really enjoyed this course because it covered the basics and at the same time mentioned more advanced progressions of the rules of grammar. I have been studying grammar for five years and Seth covered what I struggled to learn in four weeks. There are so many helpful tools, charts, and guidelines available today... being able to understand the process is another. Thanks for tying up the loose ends and making sense of why and what for... I will be repeating the course because it was so valuable!"
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? : )