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Yoga Chants (mantras)

In a traditional yoga class the teacher begins and ends the class with a chant. Written in Sanksrit (considered the oldest literacy language of India) the verses or lines are repeated several times sometimes fast, sometimes slowly. Traditionally students memorized the mantras and participated during the class. The verses (also known as strotras or mantras) are either a single sound (vowel), phrase or group of words. When chanted they create vibrations, which resonate inside of the body. They are also understood to create a spiritual energy and transformation. While each chant or mantra has its own unique meanings they are often universal in their reverence to the divine power governing everything. Generally speaking, however, the chants used to open and close a yoga class are a salutation to the teachings, to the teacher (past, present, future) and to the practice. When the verses are chanted with meaning and devotion (not meant in a religious context but with heart) they invoke energy and channel emotions. Kirtan or chanting is considered the fastest route to self-realization (understanding oneself beyond the mortal body.


Ashtanga-yoga

The traditional Ashtanga chant (both the opening and closing) as taught by Shri K. Pattahbi Jois (Ashtanga Guru) in Mysore, India. For more information visit www.ashtanga.com or www.kpjayi.org

Ashtanga Opening
Ashtanga Closing


AtmaVikasa-yoga

The traditional AtmaVikasa yoga chant (both the opening and closing) as taught by Yogacharya V. Venkatesha in Mysore, India. For more information visit www.atmavikasayoga.com

AtmaVikasa Opening - Asatoma Sadgamaya
AtmaVikasa Closing - Yogena Chittasya

 

Sun Salutations (Soorya Namaskara)

In AtmaVikasa yoga, a series of mantras are chanted before the sun salutations (soorya namaskara). The sun saluations is a series of postures that are linked together by using the breath and focus points.

Following the mantra of the sun saluations (primary series of AtmaVikasa), individual (single) mantras are also chanted. Learn to chant each of the 13 mantras as presented by Heather. Each mantra corresponds to the right and left side. One round of the sun salutations begins on the right and ends on the left. During the final round on the left side, substitute the 13th mantra to complete the practice.

Soorya Namaskara

 

Sun Salutations (Part 2)

These are extended series of mantras (single lines) used for the second and third series of AtmaVikasa yoga.

Soorya Namaskara Pt 2

 

Guru Brahma

By offering salutations to the teachings and the teachers of yoga we invoke an attitude of graditude; for without them we would not progress on the path. It is often chanted to close a meditation and/or pranayama session (exercises to direct the energy using the breath). The word Guru as repeated in this chant is meant to refer to a spiritual guide or master. In Sankskrit, ‘gu‘ means the preceptor or the remover and ‘ru’ means of darkness. Often this word is used interchangeably with teacher. Reverence is given to all of our teachers from the past to the present.

The literal translation of this chant is:

I salute to the Guru of creation, the Guru of preservation and the Guru who destroys. 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 Buddha, has no beginning or end. The Guru is the complete one.

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo

 

Traditional Indian Chants

Kirtan (or chanting) is the repetition of mantras. Kirtan is understood as being one of the fastest and easiest ways toward self-realization and awakening the divine within. Chanting, however, can also be learned for other reasons. These may include learning chants for fun, personal interest, study and/or for relaxation.

Karagre Vasate Lakshmi
Namaste Sharade Devi
Nasti Vidya Samam Chakshuhu

 

Sanskrit

Counting

Sanskrit is used to count the vinyasas (a series of moments synchronized with the breath) in classical Hatha-yoga and Ashtanga-yoga. Counting is also used for practising yogic exercises and to hold the postures for specific durations of time. Learning to chant in Sankskrit is a good exercise to improve your concentration and can even become meditative.

Counting 1 to 17

 

Drishtis (Focus or Gazing points)

For each of the postures of yoga (asanas) there are gazing or focus points (called drishtis). There are a total of 9. When practising the postures these are used to focus the mind and to deepen the effects both on the external and internal body. During postures that twist the spine, such as vakrasana (sideways twist) and ardha matsyendrasana (half spinal twist) the focus is to the side (parshva). For standing postures, such as veerabhadrasana (the warrior pose) the focus is the hand (hastha). When practised consistently these cleanse perception, improve focus, increase clarity and promote calmness.

Drishtis - Focus or Gazing Points

 

Various Talks

Meditation

Meditation is a practice that consciously focuses the mind inwardly. It is the only practice that trains the mind to go within. Meditation is the heart of all yoga. It is the inner work toward understanding who you are and what you are; the postures are the outer work. Meditation completes the practice. In this introduction, Heather briefly explains what meditation is. As a starting point to your practice, Heather discusses the different the types of meditation available and some of the main points in learning to sit. For more information refer to Meditation and its Practices by Swami Rama (1992).

What is Meditation and How to Get Started

 

Guided Practice Sessions

Metta (Loving-kindness Meditation, Stage I)

In the Buddhist tradition of meditation, the practice of metta (loving-kindness) is a fundamental thread throughout the teachings of the Buddha. There are 6 stages to this meditation; this is the first one as presented by Heather. For more information on this meditation refer to Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master by Amy Schmidt (2005).

Metta Meditation - Loving-kindness

 

Sitting Practice for Meditation

A key element in learning to sit for meditation is how to relax your mind and body. In this guided practice learn the basic techniques to develop a sitting practice. This dicussion includes:

* The importance of good posture;
* Phrases to relax your mind and;
* Techniques to deal with unwanted or random thoughts.

Guided Sitting Practice

 

Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra Sadhdana)

Yoga Nidra (practice) is a process of relaxation on the body and subconscious mind. It is often called "the sleep of the yogis", "yogic sleep" and/or "deep sleep". Learn this ancient method of relaxation by listening to Heather's clear and easy-to-follow instructions. Starting from the physical body, Heather guides you through a relaxing session from the outer cover (sheath) of the skin to the muscles and bones to the breath and mind, and to inner heart (anahata).

Guided Relaxation