A Yoga Teacher’s Guide to English Verb Forms

Although I am writing this for the amusement and benefit of all, it is inspired by my experience at numerous yoga sessions.

It concerns the following two basic rules of English verb forms, frequently violated by yoga teachers:

  • Transitive verbs take a direct object.
  • Intransitive verbs stand alone (i.e., no direct objects).

Here are some examples using the present tense:

Lay and Lie—“Lay” is a transitive verb, whereas “lie” is intransitive. Thus, before you lie down, lay a blanket on the floor. Please don’t say, “Lay down in Savasana,” or “Lie your head on the floor.”

Set and Sit—“Set” is transitive, whereas “sit” is intransi-tive. Thus, sit down, remove your socks, and set them to one side. Please don’t say, “Set yourself down.”

Honoring these rules will even improve your yoga classes, because your students will no longer cringe with tension from hearing the English language abused.

Now as for your Sanskrit pronunciation…


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All authors are graduates of Ananda Yoga Teacher Training.

Ananda Yoga Registered Yoga School for 200 and 300 hours

Professor Prakash will not take this lying down! Instead he sits down and sets the whiteboard on his tractor, so he can lay down the law and set all of us straight.


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