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Learn The 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 because 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 memorisation strategy used by a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher called Cicero. How did he dow it? Cicero would associate the material he memorised 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 because you’ve been trying to learn by reading text. That’s after all what we were taught to do in school. But learning by repeating text over and over again is a terrible learning strategy. A far, far, far, 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…


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.

Skim through the lists below…


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


• Baka: crow
• Bheka: frog
• Bhujanga: snake
• Go: cow
• Kapota: pigeon / dove
• Kurma: turtle
• 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: was a sage. Father of famous archer, Drona, who trained the cousins who would later became rivals and fight the famous war that the Bhagavad-Gita was written about.

• Garuda: was 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: 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: Lord of the Fishes. Shiva discovered a fish, who had completely learned his teachings of yoga. Shiva gave him divine form to then spread the knowledge of yoga.

• Marichi: son of Brahma and grandfather of Surya the sun god.

• Nataraja: One of the names of Shiva, the lord of the dance.

• Surya: Sun god.

• Virabhadra: 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
• Mudra: seal
• Nava: boat
• Parigha: gate latch
• Setu: bridge
• Tada: mountain
• Tola: scales
• Vira: hero
• Vrksa: tree

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 can be put in the hospital.

Animals words can be put in the park (or a farm, if you’re familiar with a farm).

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 words can be put in a church.

Number words can be put in a room within your house (there are only five numbers).

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 spelt. 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 & 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 visualise the person while looking at their name.

Juggling Ball: I take a juggling ball (very soft ball) 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 visualise 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 visualise myself and her in court with her pointing an accusing finger at me.  The more bizarre you can make the association, the more chance you have of remembering his or her name.