No sure thing
I’ve always appreciated the saying you don’t know what you don’t know, but never more than last week.
I was preparing for the Yoga Philosophy series (which I wish you all could be a part of because the conversations are so relevant and supportive), and I thought I’d double check the pronunciation of Saucha, our concept of the week, which means purity, pure, radiance, to shine, to be bright.
When it comes to yoga, yoga history and sanskrit, Richard Rosen is the go-to guy. So I sent an email to him with a few questions about Saucha, including clarification on how it is pronounced.
S’s in Sanskrit can be a little confusing. There are three sibilants — one is pronounced like our ‘s’ as in such. The other two are pronounced very similarly, both with the “sh” sound, as in should. It depends on the markers on the letter s. This is why savasana is pronounced shavasana — there’s an accent acute on the s, giving it a sh sound.
Turns out there’s also an accent acute on the s in Saucha and I’ve been mispronouncing it for over 20 years. Even teaching it incorrectly. It’s pronounced “show-cha” (the “ow” sounds like the “ou” in “loud”).
This really rocked my world! I pride myself on being a perpetual student, continually learning and fact-checking before I make claims. And here I was spreading misinformation.
This was on the tails of an informative podcast on the word Namaste. I know Namaste is a traditional salutation, but I did not know that it has not historically been used as a closing to a yoga practice. Nope, it’s just another add-on — probably in the mid 20th century — to make yoga more marketable and attractive to a Western audience (or shall we say, consumer).
The lessons we learn from “mistakes” are often the ones that sink in the deepest, and I’m grateful to be able to learn and discover…and be forgiven when I’m wrong (mostly by myself).
So for you….
Are there things you thought you knew that turned out to be untrue?
A favorite Buddhist mantra is No sure thing. Is there something you could be a little less certain about?
Try responding with “I don’t know,” rather than hypothesizing or having an answer. How does that feel?
Would also love to see you at the Asana + Alignment daily craft series next month. We will be addressing issues like these that come up in poses — what does doing it “right” mean?
If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for reading! We are grateful every day to be here with you.
PS Richard will be here September 10th for his annual IAY workshop AND a book reading. This is the book club meeting for his most recent book Yoga FAQ, which is a fabulous reality check on yoga history and philosophy. Save the date!