Monday, 21 December 2015

Ashtanga invocation and closing chant

Shivaun Berg our Ashtanga teacher at the Yoga Centre Winnipeg, wanted to share some information about the chants and invocations used in the Ashtanga Practice.

We thought this would make a great blog post, and a handy place for people to access this information.


Before beginning any ritualistic practice or endeavour such as asana, meditation or pranayama practice, studying, etc., it is traditional to state your intention (sankalpa), what you are about to do and why. Chanting focuses the mind and helps to remove any obstacles to the task to be undertaken. The production of sound and vibrations within the body has a calming and peaceful effect. The meaning of the words is secondary and simply feeds back into the vibration so that the sound itself becomes sacred and mysterious. Chanting gathers the mind and brings it closer to the immediate experience. 
Richard Freeman says the best part of chanting is the residue that remains when the sound stops. Chanting is an energetic form. After the chant, take a deep breath, sit in the form and bask in the residue.

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois chanted the Ashtanga Invocation/Opening Chant before asana practice. The first half, the opening of the Yoga Taravalia by Shankaracharya, was taught to Guruji by his teacher Krishnamacharya. It states our intention to bow or surrender, for our own benefit, to the feet of the guru/the teachings. And then expresses our wish that this practice will ease our worldly suffering (samsara) and ignorance/not knowing (moha). 
The second half is a tribute to and description of Patanjali, the ascribed author of the Yoga Sutras, and is often recited separately at the beginning of study of this text. 


vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarshita swatma sukhavabodhe
nihshreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohashantyai

abahu purushakaram
shankacakrasi dharinam
sahasra shirasam swetam
pranamami patanjalim

English Translation
I bow to the lotus feet of all gurus.
The awakening happiness of one's own Self revealed.
Beyond better acting like the jungle physician,
pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara.
In the form of a man to the shoulders,
holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
with thousands of white heads,
to Patanjali I salute.


The Mangala Mantra is a very old chant from the Rig Veda. It is traditionally chanted at the end of practice, sealing in the work of our practice and bringing it to a peaceful close. The closing chant wishes peace and happiness to the world and offers up whatever benefits or merits we gain from our practice to those who need them. 
Shanti (peace) is chanted three times at the end. The first shanti is for peace from personal suffering, physical or mental aches and pains. The second shanti is for peace from suffering caused by other sentient beings. The third shanti is for peace from suffering caused by universal events that affect us all, like weather and the environment.  

swasthi praja bhyah
pari pala yantam
nya yena margena
mahim mahishaha
go brahmane bhyah
shubhamastu nityam
lokah samasthah
sukhino bhavanthu

English Translation

May all be well with humankind.
May the leaders of the earth protect in every way by keeping to the right path.
May there be goodness for those who hold the earth sacred.
May all the worlds be happy.
May this country be free from disturbances, and may the righteous be free from fear.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

one family

This blog is a copy of a recent post on Facebook......

Recently i was asked by a journalist about students who come to our yoga centre..... She wanted to hear from students who, were not young, beautiful, able-able bodied, middle class women...while i deeply respected the intention of her article..... This was my response...... (It did not make the article, but it speaks strongly to the truth of the yoga centre winnipeg...those who teach there and those who practice there alike!

The people who come to the yoga centre winnipeg range from ages 8-85. However the practice of yoga (not just asana, but also meditation, and self study), helps people connect with their true nature which is ageless. In that respect, all our students are young. 

At the Yoga Centre Winnipeg, practitioners come in all shapes and sizes. But to us beauty shines from within, awakened through the practice of yoga and accepting oneself unconditionally. So, all our students are beautiful. 

Our classes cater to both men and women, but as we relate to finding balance within, we all learn to embrace our inner feminine and masculine energies.

While most students fit the category of "able bodied" yoga helps individuals relate to themselves through the union of the body mind and spirit. Yoga students learn to make friends with their physical bodies, accept limitations, and experience themselves as whole. 

I cannot say the socio-economic status of our students but, the people we teach say the benefits of yoga are invaluable. What is learned can be taken home and practiced for a lifetime.
Most ethnic groups and cultures are represented at the Yoga Centre Winnipeg. However, we are committed to relating to students at the level of the heart and not the colour of their skin. To us, we are all one family.