I know that sometimes Ashtanga gets a reputation of being somewhat intimidating. For example the invocation/chant at the beginning of class. To me, understanding better why we do things, like the chant, make them feel more accessible, genuine and enjoyable. My personal understanding of the invocation, first of all, is that it is Sanskrit... so, if it feels foreign when you are learning it... well, no worries- it IS! That is kind of part of the point :)
You see, Sanskrit, and the fact that it is so different for most of us from the rest of our day, is one of the things that signals to our bodies and minds that something new and different is about to happen. That we are about to do something special and unique and profoundly powerful...
The invocation is also our way in Ashtanga of acknowledging and respectfully sending our gratitude to those teachers who came before us and whom we have to thank for our own practice. 🙏🏽
When I hear or say the invocation, I am reminded of my time in Morocco and Nigeria, hearing the call to prayer five times a day, and how sound is able to automatically orient us to something outside of ourselves, how it checks our ego, reminds us that we are a small part of a much larger and more important picture.
^ Yep, that is me about 10 years ago in Morocco! ^
To me, sound has always been profoundly moving, whether it is the sounds of an orchestra warming up, the sound of a child's laughter or the sound of a little bird singing when I am coming out of Savasana in the morning after practice or chanting ❤️
Not sure what I mean?? Never had the joy of experiencing the invocation before?
Come and join me on Mondays and Fridays at The Yoga Circle at 6 am for Mysore, led class same space and time on Tuesday morning, or for beginners level led classes on Monday nights at 7 pm or Fridays at noon at Birmingham Yoga to learn more about Ashtanga Yoga and the beautiful invocation below:
Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde Sandarsita Svatma Sukhava Bodhe Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane Samsara Halahala Mohasantyai Abahu Purusakaram Sankhacakrasi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam Pranamami Patanjalim
I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus,
The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed, Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician, Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara.
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads, white,
To Patanjali, I salute.