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Yoga Chants

A traditionally based yoga class begins and ends with chanting. Written in Sanskrit (considered the oldest literacy language of India) the verses are often repeated several times.

Each verse known as a shloka is either a single sound (vowel) or a phrase. As it is chanted it creates a vibration, which is understood to resonate beyond the physical realm of the body.

While each chant has its own unique and special meaning, they are also universal in their reverence to the divine. They are calming, peaceful and open your heart as well as mind.

This is the way I learned to practice and  I hope you use them in your daily practice too.

Ashtanga yoga

Ashtanga (opening)

Ashtanga (closing)

Classical Hatha yoga

Asatoma Sadgamaya

Yogena Chittasya

Sun Salutations

Chanted before the sun salutations (soorya namaskara).

Following the main mantra, individual (single) mantras are chanted. There are 13 mantras in total; each corresponding to the right and left side.

One round of the sun salutations starts with the right and ends on the left. Depending on the number of rounds practiced, substitute the 13th for the last one.

Soorya Namaskara A

Soorya Namaskara B

Guru Brahma

The word Guru is in reverence to the spiritual guide or master. In Sanskrit, ‘gu‘ means the preceptor or the remover and ‘ru’ means darkness.

Often this word is used interchangeably with teacher. Reverence is given to all of our teachers from the past, present and to the future.

I salute to the Guru of creation, the Guru of preservation and the Guru of destruction. The Guru directs my eye to the divine who is unchangeable and unchanging.

Freeing me from accumulated karmas over several life-times, the Guru helps me to cross the ocean of samaskara (conditioned existence) and to realize the true (sat) self.

The Guru, like the Buddha, has no beginning or finite end.

The Guru is the complete and whole one.

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo

Sanskrit

Counting

Sanskrit is used to count the vinyasas (a series of movements synchronized with the breath) in classical Hatha yoga. It is also used when holding the postures of yoga.

Drishtis (the focus points)

For each of the postures of yoga (asanas) there are gazing or focus points called drishtis. With 9 in total, these focus the mind and deepen the practice.

During the physical practice for spinal twists (vakrasana, ardha matsyendrasana), the focus is sideways (parshva).

For standing postures such as the warrior pose (veerabhadrasana), the focus is the hand (hastha).

When practised regularly these cleanse perception, improve focus, increase clarity and promote mental stability.

Guided Sitting Practice

Metta (first stage)

In the Buddhist tradition of meditation, the practice of Metta (loving-kindness) is a fundamental thread sewn within the teachings of both the Buddha and also Yogis.

I discovered this practice during the time I travelled by train to Kolkatta to find Dipa (the only living relative of the late Dipa Ma, a renowned Indian meditation and spiritual teacher).

There are a total of 6 stages; this is only the first. For more information check out the book, Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master by Amy Schmidt (2005).