What is Sanskrit & Chanting
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Just released…
Instructional CD with
Call & Response
Featuring Leslie Freeburg


Patanjali:
The Yoga Sutras,
2.28 – 3.16

What is Sanskrit & Chanting

What is Sanskrit?
In the words of Professor Ram Karan Sharma: “Sanskrit is one of the oldest surviving members of the Indo-European family of languages, characterized by its uninterrupted continuity for at least the last six thousand years.  It is not confined to any region, any religion, any one philosophical school or race or caste.”

A unique characteristic of the Sanskrit language is its precise pronunciation which is found in five locations in the mouth.  Every sound or syllable is located at one of the five positions.  The beauty of the sound is directly linked to the sensing of the vibrations created when intoning as little as a single letter of the Sanskrit alphabet.  The language of Sanskrit uses an Indic alphabet known as Deva Nagari.

“Sanskrit, the language of the human spirit, seems to be the perfect instrument for bringing about healing on many levels.  Physically, its resonating power promotes healing.  Mentally it awakens the natural brightness, agility and order of the mind. Spiritually, it facilitates an expansion of awareness, tranquility and bliss.” – Vyaas (Tuck) Houston, director: American Sanskrit Institute

What is chanting?
Chanting is to sing or intonate a syllable, phrase, or slogan rhythmically and repeatedly for the purpose of producing a specific result.  It is a vocal expression of one’s intention to align one’s mind and body with the eternal aspect of consciousness which is sometimes referred to as the Divine, God or Brahman.

The Sanskrit vehicles for chanting are sacred prayers or hymns called mantras.  Many of them are thousands of years old and are regarded as an auspicious means of communicating with one’s chosen deity.

Why chant?
“People come to chant by many different paths and for many different reasons.  For some, it is spiritual, a form of devotional prayer; for others it is a method of relaxation. Still others use chant as a meditative avenue to self awareness while some find in the practice a unique social connection.” – Paul Santos: CD: “Planet Chant”.

Sanskrit Course Offerings & Definitions

American Sanskrit Institute Weekend Immersion Course:  Designed by Vyaas Houston, founder and director of the ASI, this fourteen hour course provides an introduction to the Sanskrit language and its original Devanagari alphabet.  Completely different from our English alphabet, Devanagari provides the students with knowledge of every Sanskrit sound.  They will learn to locate the five mouth positions containing these sounds.  By focusing on mouth position, intonation, and various ways of contacting the mouth positions with the tongue, the entire spectrum of the sounds of Sanskrit is learned.  By the end of the weekend students are reading words and phrases of this alphabet while also developing confidence in their pronunciation of terms used frequently in yoga classes.

This method of learning Sanskrit reveals the significance of chanting because the sounds of Sanskrit are the most relevant aspect of the language.  All sacred texts originally written in Sanskrit were meant to be spoken or chanted aloud. For more information visit www.americansanskrit.com.

Weekly Format: This 14 hour Sanskrit Immersion course is also available on a weekly basis.  One class a week, with one and one-half hour per class, is recommended.

Morning or Afternoon Classes: Chant the Yoga Sutras: Classes in pronunciation and chanting, using the English Transliteration for visual guidance, are available and designed appropriate to the needs and desires of the hosting studio.   In these sessions we will chant the basic sounds of Sanskrit using the Bija Mantras (Seed sounds).  We will cover basic meanings of the Yoga Sutras and chant them repeatedly, adding on more sutras so that the students experience the flow of chanting sutras together.  The same format is used for the chanting of select verses from the Bhagavad Gita and other traditional prayers. A minimum of two to three hours is recommended for these classes.

Asana, Pranayama and Chant:  Explore the underlying and supporting effects of asana leading into pranayama and culminating into chanting.  In this class we will explore the interrelationships among these three aspects of Yogic practice. This class is designed to give an understanding of how asana supports our pranayama practice and how the voice, an extension of the breath, is supported by these two limbs of Yoga. Two or two and a half hours is recommended.

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