Language Matters May 2008: Indian Languages and Yoga

Dear Language Friend,

Spring finally came to Vancouver! With the arrival of the nice warm weather, my spirits are lifted with the breeze. I personally came from Japan and this is my second spring in Canada. In spring time, I always feel like trying something new. Have you ever felt like that? So last spring, I started doing yoga. Since then I have been practicing yoga regularly, and as a result, developed an interest in India. In this newsletter, I will talk about Indian languages and one of the popular Indian exercises – yoga.

Contributed by Makiko Hirota, an aspiring translator of Japanese at LingoStar. Thank you for reading.

Languages in India

In India, more than a hundred languages are spoken. The languages of India primarily belong to two major linguistic families – the Indo-European and Dravidian families. The northern Indian languages from the Indo-European family such as Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Bengali and Oriya evolved from Old indo-Aryan such as Sanskrit, while Hindi, Urdu and the closely related languages were strongly influenced by Persian and Arabic. The south Indian (Dravidian) language has a history independent of Sanskrit. However, in later stages all the Dravidian languages were heavily influenced by Sanskrit. The major Dravidian languages are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.


Indo-Canadians (Canadians whose origins trace back to the Indian sub-continent)

In Canada, Indian community has been growing fast. There are close to 400,000 people whose mother tongue is Punjabi in Canada. With the latest census showing a 35% increase in Punjabi speakers since 2001, Punjabi has become the 4th most spoken language after English, French and Chinese in Canada. There are 116,635 people whose mother tongue is Punjabi, Hindi accounts for 22,025 people, Sindhi for 1,530, Urdu for 6,515, Tamil for 2,925, Malayalam for 810 and Telugu for 380 in Vancouver.

LingoStar Punjabi Translation Services

Our company regularly translates documents into Punjabi. Clients’ requests for English to Punjabi translation cover a wide range of topics: health information, product sheets, machine operation instructions, educational services, community services, financial documentation, etc. Our Punjabi translators are experienced linguists with extensive experience in the mentioned fields.

When delivering a Punjabi translation, we usually submit the translation in both a Word and PDF format so you can view the Punjabi script well in case the Punjabi fonts are not yet installed on your computer. If necessary, we provide the Punjabi fonts as well.

If you are looking to increase business by reaching to one of the most spread-out community in Canada, consider translating your marketing and informational materials into Punjabi!

Sanskrit and Yoga

As mentioned above, a lot of languages in India were influenced by Sanskrit, which is the most ancient literary language of India. The name Sanskrit means “refined”, “consecrated” and “sanctified”, and it has always been regarded as the ‘high-in-status’ language and used mainly for religious and scientific discourse. Yoga instructions were originally written in Sanskrit. Here are some examples of Sanskrit terms you often hear during yoga lessons.

Asanas: A series of postures or poses that make up the Hatha yoga (the most common style of yoga) practice designed to prepare the mind and body for meditation.

Chakra: The seven sacred energy centers in the body that store and release vital life force energy (prana).

Namaste: A traditional Indian greeting meaning: “I bow and honor the divine presence in you.” One presses palms together near the heart and then gently bows the head towards the person they are greeting.

Yogi: Refers to someone who practices yoga, or one who has mastered yoga and then teaches it.

Benefits of Yoga

Put it simply—you feel good. Why do you feel good after doing yoga? And what are the benefits?

1. Increases flexibility: Yoga has positions that act upon the various joints of the body, including those that are rarely exercised.

2. Massages the organs in your body: Yoga is perhaps the only form of activity which massages all the internal glands and organs of the body in a thorough manner. Yoga postures work on various body parts. This stimulates and massages the organs, which in turn benefit us by keeping away diseases and disorders.

3. Tones muscles: By holding each posture for a while, you can tone your muscles up, get rid of flab, and keep you in good shape!

4. Mental calmness: Yoga practice is intensely physical. Concentrating on what your body is doing has the effect of bringing calmness to the mind. Yoga also introduces you to meditation techniques, such as watching how you breathe and disengagement from your thoughts, which help calm the mind.

5. Stress reduction: Physical activity is good for relieving stress, and this is particularly true of yoga. Because of the concentration required, your daily troubles, both large and small, seem to melt away while you are doing yoga.

Now are you interested in doing some yoga? Let me introduce some of the poses you can do! Do not forget to breathe while you are maintaining those poses!

Vrksasana (Sanskrit)

STEP 1: Start with the Mountain Pose.

STEP 2: As you exhale, place your left foot on the inside part of your right leg, close to the groin area, with the toes pointing downward.

STEP 3: As you inhale, stretch your arms sideways to form a T, palms facing down.

STEP 4: As you exhale, bring your palms together in prayer position.

STEP 5: Raise your arms overhead, keeping your palms in prayer position. To maintain balance, it helps to focus your eyes on one point in front of you and keep on breathing through the belly.

Matsyasana (Sanskrit)

STEP 1: Lie down on your back with your legs straight and your feet together. Place your hands, palms down, underneath your thighs.

STEP 2: Pressing down on your elbows, inhale and arch your back. Drop your head back so that the top of your head is on the floor, but your weight should rest on your elbows. Exhale. Breathe deeply while in the position, keeping your legs and lower torso relaxed. To come out of the pose, lift your head and place it gently back down, then release the arms.

As a person who practices yoga in daily life, I think yoga is a great exercise to release stress and help you to stay calm. After I started doing yoga, I found myself rarely getting angry or being upset. My mind stays calm and I can make well-thought-out decisions without being interfered or hindered by my emotions. Also, yoga helps me to improve concentration. It is a non-competitive activity which actually helps you to focus on your inner self. So if you are in immense work tension and stress, relax with yoga!