Get to know Sarah LaFleur
How did you come to study Sanskrit?
I took Sanskrit Level 1 in 2012 because my ashtanga teacher, Zoe Mai, was teaching the course and strongly suggested I attend. I had merely a casual interest in the language, but I left the weekend-long course with the sensation of experiencing something rare, real, and ancient. I continued to study with Zoe and was fascinated by the degree of healing and insight that chanting and studying Sanskrit offered. It began with baby steps — realizing that I was experiencing the full range of the palate while I was chanting a difficult text, for instance. The steps became more complex, such as learning to read Devanagari fluently, but as I began to take more steps I realized every step was a baby step — every step was a new beginning.
There is a Sanskrit word, “pranava,” which means Om, or the sound at the heart of creation. My teacher’s teacher, Vyass Houston, writes in “Yoga Sutras: The Practice” that pranava contains “a primal sense of beginning.” It is eternal and continuous, and paradoxically because it is eternal, it is ever-new. This aspect of the language, it’s eternal “beginning-ness,” met me where I was and offered a kind of grace and inspiration that pulled me along, past my frustrations, doubts, and lethargy. I believe the language is a spirit and force of its own. It compels the student to move past her own limitations and even the language itself. I still don’t quite understand it. But Sanskrit came to me as much as I came to it.
…to be continued and posted on the website