Meaning and importance of Ashtanga opening chant
Ashtanga yoga is a traditional form of yoga that has been practiced for centuries. It is known for its unique sequence of postures that are performed in a specific order. The Ashtanga opening chant is an integral part of this practice and holds a significant importance for those who practice it.
The Ashtanga opening chant is a traditional Hindu chant that is recited at the beginning of Ashtanga yoga practice. It is a way of acknowledging the origins of yoga, honoring the guru or teacher, and creating a sacred space for practice. Chanting these verses helps to cleanse the energy of the space, and prepare the mind, body, and emotions for the Ashtanga sequence.
The Ashtanga Vinyasa practice traditionally starts with a chant consisting of two parts. The first part is an invocation to Patanjali, the sage who is credited with writing the Yoga Sutras, which provide the foundational philosophy of yoga. The second part is a series of verses that pay respect to the lineage of Ashtanga yoga.
Chanting the opening verses of the Ashtanga practice is a way to show respect for the traditional teachings and cultural origins of yoga. It is believed that by reciting the chant, one is connecting to the ancient wisdom of yoga and honoring the lineage of teachers who have passed down this practice through the generations.
|Benefits of Chanting the Ashtanga Opening Chant|
|1. Creates a sacred space for practice|
|2. Cleanses the energy of the space|
|3. Prepares the mind, body, and emotions for the Ashtanga sequence|
|4. Honors the lineage of Ashtanga yoga teachers|
Chanting the Ashtanga opening chant can also be a way to establish a sense of presence and focus before beginning the physical practice. By taking a moment to center oneself and connect with the breath, one can approach the practice with a clear and focused mind.
Origins and History of Ashtanga Opening Chant
Ashtanga opening chant is an integral part of Ashtanga yoga practice, which is a traditional Hindu yoga practice that has been around for centuries. The opening chant is a form of prayer, and it is recited at the beginning of each practice session to invite the divine blessings of the universe. The chant is known as Vande Gurunam Mantra and is recited in Sanskrit.
The opening chant includes a reference to Lord Shiva, who represents the masculine energy, and a depiction of Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras, as the Hindu god Vishnu. The chant also references the eight limbs of yoga, which are described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The limbs include yama (social ethics), niyama (individual disciplines), asana (physical practices), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (unification with the divine).
The practice of chanting involves starting with mechanical in-toning, where the practitioner recites the chant in a monotone voice. As the practice deepens, there is a shift to meditation on the meaning of the words. Different translations of the chant focus on various aspects of its meaning, but all emphasize the importance of purifying the mind and connecting with higher consciousness.
The origins of the Ashtanga opening chant are not entirely clear, but it is believed to date back centuries. The chant was likely passed down from teacher to student through oral tradition. Since the chant has been around for so long, it has taken on many different meanings and interpretations over the years.
|Purifying the mind||The chant is a form of prayer, and it focuses on purifying the mind by invoking the blessings of the universe. The act of chanting itself is a meditative practice that can help practitioners calm and focus their minds.|
|Connecting with higher consciousness||Through the act of chanting, practitioners aim to connect with higher consciousness or the divine. The practice of chanting can help individuals feel a sense of unity with the universe and feel more connected to their higher selves.|
|Creating a sense of community||The Ashtanga opening chant is often recited in a group setting, which can create a sense of community among practitioners. The chant serves as a unifying force, bringing practitioners together in a shared experience.|
Structure and Interpretation of Ashtanga Opening Chant
The Ashtanga Yoga tradition is rooted deeply in the history of yoga, and the traditional practice begins with a recitation of the Opening Chant. The purpose of this chant is to pay homage to the origins of yoga, honor the gurus, and create a sacred space for practice. The Opening Chant consists of two parts, and it is a beautiful and profound way to begin your yoga practice.
The second part of the chant is a prostrate chant honoring Patanjali, the author of the Yoga-Sutra. Patanjali is widely regarded as a great sage and the compiler of the foundational texts on yoga philosophy. The chant describes Patanjali as having a unique form – a mix of human and snake – with thousands of radiant, white heads and four arms holding a conch shell, a sword, and a wheel. Each of these symbols represents the divine sound, discrimination, and mastery over time, respectively.
The description of Patanjali in the chant provides rich symbolism that yoga practitioners can contemplate during their practice. The human upper body and arms of Patanjali represent the intellect, will, and action, while the serpent lower body symbolizes the energy and vitality flowing throughout the cosmos. The radiant white heads illustrate the vastness of wisdom contained in his teachings and the four arms represent his knowledge and expertise related to the divine sound, discrimination, and time.
Mangala Mantra and its significance
The Ashtanga Yoga practice begins and ends with a chant. The opening chant, also known as the Ashtanga Opening Chant, is a ode to the discipline and the divine beings which guide the practice. The closing chant, known as the Mangala Mantra, is a dedication to the greater good of all living beings.
The Mangala Mantra is considered to be one of the most important prayers in yoga. The chant includes wishes for the welfare of all generations, blessings for all religions and peoples, and happiness for all beings. The Mantra ends with the sound of Om, which is considered the most powerful of all mantras.
|Auspiciousness||This prayer wishes for a positive environment and favorable circumstances.|
|Happiness||The Mangala Mantra prays for all beings to be content and joyful.|
|Salvation||The prayer is for the liberation of all beings from suffering and pain.|
|Blessings||It is a request for divine blessings for all beings, regardless of their race, religion or nationality.|
|Well-being||The Mangala Mantra asks for all beings to be healthy and free from afflictions.|
The Ashtanga closing chant is a dedication of the practice to the world and a prayer for global rulers to make virtuous decisions for the welfare of the population and future generations, as well as a prayer for peace. This is a reminder that yoga is not just a personal practice but one that can have a positive impact on the world.
The Mantra is a prayer for auspiciousness, happiness, salvation, blessings, and well-being for all living beings. It recognizes that we are all interconnected and that our personal well-being is intertwined with the well-being of others. As we say the Mantra, we cultivate a sense of compassion for all living beings and a desire to contribute to the greater good.
The Mangala Mantra is a beautiful reminder of the true spirit of yoga, which is to bring light, love, and peace into the world. It is a powerful tool for cultivating a sense of peace and well-being in our own lives and for spreading those positive feelings to all beings.
Benefits of Chanting and Mantra Recitation in Yoga Practice
Chanting and mantra recitation have been an integral part of yoga practice for centuries. Not only do they cleanse the energy of the practice space, but they also prepare the mind, body, and emotions for the upcoming sequence. Here are some of the benefits of chanting and mantra recitation in yoga practice:
- Cleansing energy: Chanting helps to purify the surrounding energy of the practice space, creating a more peaceful and calming environment.
- Tradition: Chanting and mantra recitation have been a part of yoga for thousands of years, and are considered an important aspect of the practice.
- Physical Benefits: Studies have shown that chanting and mantra recitation can have physical benefits such as improved memory, attention, and calmness.
- Mental Benefits: Chanting mantras is a way to bring focus and quiet the mind, helping to reduce stress and improve mental clarity.
- Understanding: Chants have meanings that are designed to bring the chanter back to the direct experience of sound vibration and cultivate understanding.
Chanting and mantra recitation can also deepen your spiritual practice and enhance your connection to the universe. Additionally, they can help to decrease stress and anxiety and promote a greater sense of inner peace.
The role of guru in yoga practice
The Ashtanga Opening Chant is a vital part of every Ashtanga yoga practice. This chant is recited to acknowledge the origins of yoga, show respect to the guru, and create a sacred space for practice. The importance of the guru in yoga practice cannot be overstated.
Chanting these verses helps to cleanse the energy of the space and prepare the mind, body, and emotions for the Ashtanga sequence. By reciting these verses, practitioners offer thanks to their teachers and show humility and respect for the practice.
The first verse of the chant describes the qualities of the gurus who have become established in an awakened, harmonious state and can help others do the same. One interpretation of the chant sees the “hālāhala” poison as representing the toxic delusions and distractions of daily life, which the guru can help practitioners overcome.
In yoga, the guru is a guide, a teacher, and a mentor. They play an essential role in the spiritual and physical development of their students. Yoga is not only about the physical postures but also a holistic approach to life that involves mental and spiritual growth. A guru is a person who has already walked the path that their students are walking and can guide them towards their goals.
The guru provides a sense of direction and stability to the student’s yoga practice. They offer feedback, tips, and advice that can help practitioners improve their physical postures and deepen their spiritual practice. Gurus also share their wisdom, knowledge, and experience, and they inspire their students to strive for their highest potential.
Ultimately, the role of the guru in yoga practice is to help students navigate the journey towards self-realization. They guide their students towards a state of awakened awareness, where they can experience the unity of body, mind, and spirit. By reciting the Ashtanga Opening Chant, practitioners honor the importance of the guru in their yoga practice and show gratitude for their guidance.
|The role of guru in yoga practice|
|The guru is a guide, a teacher, and a mentor to yoga practitioners.|
|The guru provides a sense of direction and stability to the student’s yoga practice, offering feedback, tips, and advice that can help practitioners improve their physical postures and deepen their spiritual practice.|
|Gurus also share their wisdom, knowledge, and experience, and they inspire their students to strive for their highest potential.|
|Ultimately, the role of the guru in yoga practice is to help students navigate the journey towards self-realization.|
Interpretation and variations of Ashtanga opening chant
The Ashtanga opening chant is an integral part of any Ashtanga yoga practice. It is performed at the beginning of the practice and is meant to pay homage to the lineage of teachers who have passed down the practice to us. The opening chant is traditionally recited in Sanskrit, which adds to its mystical and spiritual quality. However, the language can be quite complex and nuanced, and there are many interpretations of each line.
The author of this article has created her own interpretation of the Ashtanga opening and closing chants. According to her interpretation, the opening chant is a hymn of gratitude to the gurus who have shown us that true happiness is achievable through yoga. It is also a reminder of the importance of shunning conditioned existence and egotism, and embracing a more spiritual path.
Understanding and honoring yoga’s roots is important, but Sanskrit is a nuanced language, and each line can be interpreted in several different ways. Here are some variations of the Ashtanga opening chant and their respective interpretations:
|Om||The sound of the universe, representing unity and oneness.|
|Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde||“I offer my respects to the lotus feet of the gurus.”|
|Deshika-means master of the country, generally refers to one’s teacher||A term of respect for the gurus who have passed down the practice to us.|
|Nirmala-mayi-means pure||Honoring the purity and clarity of the teachers’ teachings.|
|Ashtanga-means eight limbs, referring to the eightfold path of yoga.||A reminder of the importance of all eight limbs of yoga in the practice.|
|Yogi-anena-salakaya-means with the body (salakaya) of a practitioner (yogi).||A reminder that we are all practitioners, and that the body is just a tool for reaching enlightenment.|
|Manaso-vacha-karmana means in thought, word, and deed.||Reminding us to align our thoughts, words, and actions with our spiritual ideals.|
|Pranatosmi-sad-gurum-shri-charanaravindam means I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru, who teaches the knowledge of the Self and the realization of the Supreme.||A final acknowledgement of the gurus and their teachings.|