Learn Sanskrit Of 101 Yoga Poses Using A Simple Memory Trick

101 minutes to remember 101 Sanskrit words


Many yoga teachers wish they could learn the Sanskrit of poses. But most don’t. The reason is that their inner voice is saying:

I have a bad memory. 

We often view memory as this thing that you’re either good at or bad at, as though it’s some inherent quality that we either have or don’t have.

But I’ll let you in on a secret…

You’re not born with a good memory.

Cultivating a good memory is a skill 

You can improve it. And it’s a lot easier than you think.

It’s easy if you use a 2,500-year-old memorization strategy used by a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer, and philosopher called Cicero. How did he do it?

Cicero would associate the material he memorized with visual cues — in his case loci.

As he paced his home rehearsing a speech, he would associate certain LOCATIONS within his living space with sections of his speech. In doing so, he could create a sequence of VISUAL CUES (the door, a basket, a table) to remember a sequence of topics. 

These VISUAL CUES are still used today by memory champions. And they’re something that you too can use to learn Sanskrit of 101 poses in only 101 minutes. 

Hmmm, you’re probably a bit skeptical at being able to learn Sanskrit of 101 poses in only 101 minutes.

But did you know…

We processes VISUAL INFORMATION 60,000 times quicker than text-based information.

The reason you think you have a bad memory is that you’ve been trying to learn by reading text. That’s what we were taught to do in school. But learning by repeating text over and over again is a terrible learning strategy.

A far better way to learn something is to use VISUAL CUES, just like Cicero did 2,500 years ago.

You’re about to learn how…

Learn Sanskrit Step 1
Six Main Categories


The names of asanas derive from six main categories:

1. Anatomy
2. Animals
3. Distinguishing Feature Of The Pose
4. Deities & Sages
5. Numbers
6. Objects

When you learn the single word translations, the longer names of asanas start to become decipherable.


Anga limb
Anguli fingers
Anga limb
Anghusta big toe
Bhuja arm
Hasta hand
Janu knee
Jattara stomach
Karna ear
Mukha face
Pada foot
Paschima west direction (backside of the body)
Prana breath/life-force
Purva east direction (front side of the body)
Sarvanga whole body
Sava corpse
Sirsa head


Baka crow
Bheka frog
Bhujanga snake
Go cow
Kapota pigeon/dove
Kurma pigeon/dove
Matsya fish
Shalabha locust/grasshopper
Svana dog
Ustra camel

Distinguishing Feature Of The Pose


Adho downward
Ardha half
Baddha bound
Kona angle
Nirlamba without support
Parivrtta revolved
Pida pressure
Prasarita spread out
Salamba with support
Sthiti stability
Supta reclining/sleeping
Upavistha seated
Urdva raised/upward
Uttana intense stretch
Utthita extended/stretched

Deities & Sages

Bharadva Bharadva was as a sage. Father of the famous archer, Drona, who trained the cousins who would later become rivals and fight the famous war that the Bhagavad-Gita was written about.
Garuda Garuda is the king of the eagles. Garuda once provided transportation and carried Lord Vishnu to the aid of devotee, Gajendra who was in a life-threatening situation.
Hanuman Hanuman is the chief of the monkey army. One of Rama’s greatest devotees who came to his aid. Hanuman made huge leaps across the sea- first to find Sita and then to save Rama’s brother.
Matsyendra Matsyendra is Lord of the Fishes. Shiva discovered a fish, who had completely learned his teachings of yoga. Shiva gave him a divine form to then spread the knowledge of yoga.
Marichi Marichi is the son of Brahma and grandfather of Surya the sun god.
Nataraja Nataraja is one of the names of Shiva, the lord of the dance.
Surya Surya is the Sun god.
Virabhadra Virabhadra is the great warrior who sprang to Shiva’s aid to seek revenge on his father-in-law.


Ashta eight
Chatur four
Dwi two
Eka one
Tri three


Asana pose/posture
Chandra moon
Danda rod/staff
Dhanu bow
Hala plough/plow
Mudra seal
Nava boat
Parigha gate latch
Setu bridge
Tada mountain
Tola scales
Vira hero
Vrksa tree


Learn Sanskrit Step 2
Construct A Memory Town


So, how can you use visual cues to learn Sanskrit of 101 poses in only 101 minutes?


You’re going to construct a “Memory Town”.

4 Steps To Construct A Memory Town

Step 1: Choose A Familiar Town

Choose a familiar town. The perfect way to store Sanskrit words is by using a detailed mental map of a town or village. The Sanskrit words you’ll be learning are in the following six categories: Anatomy, Animals, Characteristics of the pose, Deities & Sages, Numbers, and Objects. A town can encompass all these everyday words.

The advantage of using a mental map of your town as your filing system is that you can group various types of words together in different parts of the town.

Anatomy Words Anatomy words can be put in the hospital (you might like my anatomy crash course).
Animal Words Animal words can be put in the park (or a farm, if you’re familiar with a farm). 
Distinguishing Feature Of The Pose words Distinguishing Feature Of The Pose words can be put in your yoga studio (if it’s not in your town, that’s OK, your imagination can pick up the studio and place it in the town).
Deities & Sages Deities & Sages words can be put in a church.
Number words Number words can be put in a room within your house (there are only five numbers).
Object words Object words can be put randomly around the town.

Step 2:
Use Imagination & Association 

Use your imagination and association. Let the Sanskrit word suggest a KEY IMAGE to you.

For example, the Sanskrit for “limb” is Anga.

Your KEY IMAGE might be “Angela Merkel”.

Concentrate on the phonetic sound of the Sanskrit, rather than the way it’s spelled. If some of your associations produce words that don’t quite match the correct pronunciation don’t worry.

Step 3: Key Image

Place your KEY IMAGE in an appropriate location, suggested by the English.

You are likely to find “Angela Merkel” in the local pub chatting to her constituents. So, think of a pub you know in your chosen town (if you don’t know a pub in your chosen town, but know a pub in another town, simply imagine that pub in your chosen town). 

Step 4: Combine Key Image And Location

Combining your KEY IMAGE (Angela Merkel) and LOCATION (pub), imagine “Angela Merkel” picking up a tankard with her arm “limb”, talking to the locals about German politics.

That’s it.

And if you struggle remembering names, you might like this…

Bonus Step
4 Tricks To Remember Student Names


Do you know the sweetest word for 99% of people?  It’s not “free”.

It’s their name!

Do whatever it takes to remember your students by name.  Below are four simple tricks for remembering names.

Sign In Sheet

I have a Sign-in Sheet on the table as they come through the door.  Everyone has to put a tick by their names or write their name if they are a new student. 

After every class, I look at the Sign-in Sheet and look at all names.  I then visualize the person while looking at their name.

Juggling Ball

I take a juggling ball (very softball) with me and play the “Introduce Yourself Game“.

I throw the ball to the person closest to me on my right and they say their name. The person then throws the ball back to me.  I then throw the ball to the next person. I keep doing this until everyone says their name.

It’s a good laugh and is a great Ice Breaker. I play the “Introduce Yourself Game” at the beginning of every 6-week yoga course. 

Before Class Before entering the venue for my class, I’ll get my folder out and look at the names on my Sign-in Sheet.  I will visualize the person’s face and see myself saying, “Hi Jo.”
Bizarre Image

When a new student arrives at my class and says, “My name is Susan”, I immediately create a bizarre image in my mind that will trigger each time I see her.

For example, I imagine Susan SUEING me for not having enough yoga mats in my class.

I visualize myself and Sue in court with her pointing an accusing finger at me from the stand. If I know another person called Sue, she will be the judge in the court.

The more bizarre you can make the association, the more chance you have of remembering his or her name.