Namaste Dear Friends,
We hope this finds everyone well and happy. Please note that Tuesday’s noontime “Intro to Ashtanga” class with Sarah S is cancelled. Also, two spots remain available for Sarah T’s two-week breathwork session. Please contact us immediately if you’d like to join.
With the conclusion of describing the three aspects of tristhana, Sarah S. continues this week with her Ashtanga Yoga mini-series with an explanation of its opening chant. Much can be said of yogic/vedic chanting, which can wait until another newsletter (as we’re trying to reasonably limit the newsletter’s length!). This week we also explore the 5th limb of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga—pratyahara, or sense withdrawal.
All of this week’s classes include:
Sunday, November 27th:
Breathwork w/ Sarah T. 12:30–3:00PM
Restorative Yoga w/ Julie 3:30–4:45PM (Full for this week – no drop-ins, please)
Core & Back w/ Leanne 5:15–6:30PM
Monday, November 28th:
PWYC Express Flow w/ Julie @ 12:00–12:45PM
Intro to Yin w/ Julie @ 1:30–2:30PM
Yoga for Men w/ Greg @ 5:30–6:30PM
Meditation w/ Sarah T @ 7:00–8:30PM (Registration closed – course is full)
Tuesday, November 29th:
CANCELLED —— Intro to Ashtanga w/ Sarah S @ 12:00–1:00PM
Vinyasa Flow w/ Julie @ 5:30–6:30PM
Gentle Yoga w/ Leanne @ 7:00–8:15PM
Wednesday, November 30th:
PWYC Express Flow w/ Leanne @ 12:00–12:45PM
Hatha Yoga w/ Greg @ 5:30–6:45PM
Intro to Yin w/ Julie @ 7:30–8:30PM
Thursday, December 1st:
Hatha Yoga w/ Greg @ 1:30–2:45PM
Intro to Ashtanga w/ Sarah S @ 5:45–7:00PM
Saturday, December 3rd:
Morning Flow w/ Greg @ 10:00–11:15AM
Ashtanga Yoga’s Opening Chant by Sarah Smith
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).
The traditional opening invocation is chanted at the beginning of the Ashtanga series. The invocation recalls Patanjali, author of the yoga sutras, who outlined and recorded the process of evolution, through yoga, from illusion to enlightenment. Patanjali, in his mythic form as half man, halfsnake, holds out the tools that will give the aspirant the power to “awaken insight”. The line, “Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai”, talks about being released from poisonous delusion and the lines just prior, state that seeing one’s own true nature or “Sukava Bhode” is the refuge from this otherwise rampant delusion.
So, when chanting, I’m recognizing that the practice I’m about to take part in, has within it the opportunity for me to work on developing the tools that I need to work through illusion, false beliefs and judgements, those things that can affect my actions and thoughts without my knowing. I am acknowledging where these beneficial teachings have originated and paying my respect.
The lines “I bow”, “I prostrate” can be uncomfortable at times because most of us don’t really understand, or haven’t experienced, or are adverse to experiencing a sense of total dedication to our teachers. I love and appreciate my teacher, but I don’t surrender my life to her – It is a culturally specific quality that sort of disrupts our western sense of individualism. Regardless, the parampara (lineage) is important because it is the oral and experiential transmission of information, of historical and relevant teachings.
So,it is respected in the interest of preserving a sense of authenticity and traditionalism as well as spiritual connection. Parampara refers specifically to carrying forward what was taught to me and to then teach that same information. In this way, when chanting, we’re referencing teachers from the past – who’ve worked to transmit the knowledge of yoga through the ages – and from our own more recent past, recognizing the value of having a good teacher and ultimately paying your respect to that relationship before
commencing to practice.
Finally, the invocation is a preparation for practice, both mental and physical. It absorbs the mind, bringing it into focus with the physical experience. It is also an emotional preparation, a calling out of intention to learn, to grow and for support. It brings you back to the purpose of practice.
YOGA SUTRAS OF PATANJALI
This week we explore the 5th limb of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga system—pratyahara, or sense withdrawal—which comprises the final two sutras of the second chapter of the Yoga Sutras.
(Chapter 2, Sutras 54–55)
54. Pratyahara is the imitation of the mind by the senses, which comes by withdrawing the senses from their objects.
55. From that comes the highest mastery over the senses.
As a tortoise draws its limbs into its shell, so too are the senses drawn into the mind. This is the essence of pratyahara; it is a practice of using the mind to gain mastery over the senses. The senses are manifestations of prana—the life-force that pervades all of our actions—which the previous limb (i.e., pranayama) seeks to master. As the senses draw inward, or put another way, as our attachment/aversion to the sense objects diminishes, the mind is much less likely to create thought waves (or vrittis). Thus, pratyahara takes us one step closer to a peaceful mind that is ripe for concentration and meditation. Indeed, it is said that the greatest obstacles to enlightenment are overcome when pratyahara is mastered.
Om Namah Shivaya