Yoga: Ashtanga Mantra
As I have yet to take part in the requisite round of practice with the ashtanga centre in Mysore, I am still learning some of the aspects key to this powerful and dynamic practice. Blessed with its own opening and closing chants in honour of the sage Patanjali, I wanted to share them for anyone wishing to join me in this pursuit.
Ashtanga Yoga traditionally has both an opening chant and a closing chant. Because of Yoga’s ancient roots, chants (or mantras) are offered in Sanskrit (the ancient language of India), however their meaning is said to be universal as Sanskrit is the language of the heart.
Chanting acts to shift the consciousness of the individual practicing the chant to a higher level of vibration. This in turn brings us closer to our Source or Higher Self – the aspect of ourselves that remains eternal – and leaves the practitioner filled with peace and feeling calm and centred.
Studies have shown that when a person chants it can stabilise their heart rate, lower blood pressure, produce beneficial endorphins in the body and boost metabolic processes, so it perfectly compliments the physical practice of asana.
Ashtanga Yoga Opening Chant
The Opening Prayer is a blessing of gratitude offered to the lineage of teachers and their students who have enabled this ancient practice to survive through thousands of years so that we can experience its benefits today. The recitation of this mantra cleanses the energy of the space we have chosen to practice yoga, as well as preparing the mind, body and emotions for the forthcoming Ashtanga sequence.
Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarshita Svatma Sukava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru
which awaken insight into the happiness of pure Being,
which are the refuge, the jungle physician,
which eliminate the delusion caused by the poisonous herb of Samsara (conditioned existence).
I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads (as the divine serpent, Ananta)
and who has, as far as his arms, assumed the form of a man
holding a conch shell (divine sound), a wheel (discus of light or infinite time) and a sword (discrimination).
Ashtanga Yoga Closing Chant
The Closing Prayer brings the practice to a peaceful end; sealing in the work done and offering the efforts of our practice to improve the state of the world.