A 9-Part Online Seminar with Zoë Slatoff

Introduction to Sanskrit

A Seminar

Now On Demand

Seminar Description

In this seminar, students will begin by learning to read and write the devanāgarī alphabet. We will then put this into practice by reading yoga-related words, focusing on proper pronunciation as well. As we learn to connect consonants to vowels and then consonants to consonants, we will read more complex words and eventually verses and sūtras. We will then begin to learn some simple grammar and translate verses together. Students will study from Zoë's book, “Yogāvatāraṇam: The Translation of Yoga,” which she wrote to join Eastern and Western methods and theory and practice together.

In each session we will cover a few new concepts. It is suggested that students develop a Sanskrit study practice. Like with yoga, Sanskrit is best learned through consistent practice, rather than through quantity. It is recommended that students do 15-20 minutes a day rather than an hour a couple of times a week.


Students who take this seminar will:

  • Learn to read and write the devanāgarī script.

  • Be able to read key yoga terms and understand their meaning.

  • Learn proper Sanskrit pronunciation.

  • Become familiar with transliteration using the most widely accepted IAST system.

  • Read verses and sūtras from classical yoga texts.

  • Study some basic grammar.

  • Understand the structure of the most common type of verse.

  • Begin to translate simple verses.

9 Downloadable Videos & MP3s
Seminar Readings
22.5 Yoga Alliance Cont. Ed. Credits
22.5 Embodied Philosophy Credits

Seminar Outline

In this session we will learn the devanāgarī alphabet, focusing on proper pronunciation of the different sounds as well as writing the letters. We will then learn to read some simple words. We will also learn about the use of virāma to take away the final sound and how to write the shorthand version of the vowel ā in the middle of a word.

We will begin by reviewing the alphabet and the homework exercises. We will then learn how to write all of the other vowels in the middle of a word, learning their shorthand versions. We will read some more words together, using this vowel combination. We will also learn our first simple rule of sandhi or word junction.

Vowel combinations will be reviewed before learning how to combine consonants together, first through horizontal combination and then vertical combination in addition to considering some exceptions. The conjunct consonant chart will also be explored.

Consonant combination will be examined in Module 4 followed by a learning of the last type of combination with the letter r. We will also begin a collective review of the chapter.

A review of Chapter 1 leads students into Chapter 2, where Zoe teaches how to conjugate first class present tense verbs. We will then learn pronouns and read some simple sentences together.

First class verb conjugations and sentences will be examined at the beginning of Module 6. Then students will learn how to conjugate fourth, sixth, and tenth class verbs, and begin to read and write more simple sentences.

In Module 7, Zoe will guide students to review fourth, sixth, and tenth class verbs. We will then read our first verse together, talking about verse structure and ways to approach translation. We will also study the irregular verb as, to be, allowing you to read more verses.

Group analysis of verses introduces session 8 followed by a review of simple sandhi rules, with examples from the Yogasūtra

After reviewing the chapter together, Zoe will briefly introduce students to nouns and the grammatical cases, offering a glimpse of what is to come.

Zoë Slatoff has a Master’s Degree in Asian Languages and Culture from Columbia University. She is the author of Yogāvatāraṇam: The Translation of Yoga,” a Sanskrit textbook for yoga students, which uses extracts from classical yoga texts to integrate traditional and academic methods of learning the language. She is now working on a PhD in South Asian Studies at Lancaster University, centering on a translation of the Aparokṣānubhūti, a text attributed to Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, which by integrating Yoga and Advaita Vedānta, teaches how āsana practice can actually help one transcend the attachment to bodily form and provide a vehicle for recognition of the Self.
Zoë has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 20 years. She teaches daily Mysore classes at her yoga shala in New York, Ashtanga Yoga Upper West Side.

Tuition Options




9-Part Sanskrit Seminar

Join Zoë on an exciting journey into India's sacred language.  

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