Learn Sanskrit On Your Own

Zoë Slatoff-Ponté began travelling to Mysore in 2000 to study with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. But her interest in yoga soon expanded beyond the physical asana practice and eventually she went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Asian Languages and Culture from Columbia. Her master’s thesis was a translation and exploration of a Sanskrit text on yoga.

In her new book Yogavataranam, Slatoff-Ponté has created a Sanskrit textbook for the modern yoga student - in other words all of us yogis who are interested in this complex language but somewhat intimidated by it.

Integrating traditional and academic methods of learning, she teaches grammar and reading of the Sanskrit language through classical yoga texts. Beautifully illustrated by Ben Ponte, this book is definitely one that every yoga teacher and aspiring Sanskritist should have. Lisa Dawn Angerame talked to the author about how it came about.

Lisa Dawn Angerame: What made you decide to take on this project?

Zoë Slatoff-Ponté: When I began teaching Sanskrit classes at my yoga shala,

Ashtanga Yoga Upper West Side, I realized that the existing textbooks did not address the specific interests of yoga students. Most textbooks use very basic fictional sentences as examples and I began to wonder whether it would be possible to actually teach the language through yoga texts and yoga related concepts.

Many students learn Sanskrit with the intention of being able to one day read these texts,