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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

opening invocations

last sunday, i found myself chatting with elena, another KCRW volunteer, about what i'd been doing with myself yoga-wise since we last saw each other at the last pledge drive. through the course of the conversation, we ended up talking about yoga, meditation, and chanting. and she said that one of the things that discouraged her from trying out new styles of yoga was her not being able to follow along with the opening invocations. another volunteer piped in and said that city yoga hands out cards with the invocation printed on them; you may not know the melody, but you can always improvise because you have the lyrics. he had a point.

except for the bks iyengar institute which also has lyric sheets available for newbies, it seems like all the other studios assume that most of their students are long-time practitioners who've heard the chants enough times to have committed them to memory.

well, that's obviously not me. nor anyone who's new to a particular style of yoga.

so after some research on the internet, i've come up with the words to some of the more popular opening invocations as well as their audio clip samples. feel free to print this out and take it to your next yoga class to guide you along. and if you have any other must-know chants that need to be added to the list, please send them my way.


anusara invocation (as chanted by elizabeth rainey)

Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
Saccidananda Murtaye
Nischprapanchaya Shantaya
Niralambaya Tejase

I offer myself to the Light, the Auspicious One, who is the True Teacher within and without,
Who assumes the forms of Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss,
Who is never absent and is full of peace,
Independent in existence, the vital essence of illumination.

ashtanga invocation (as chanted by reema datta)

vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
nihsreyase jangalikayamane
samsara halahala mohasantyai

abahu purusakaram
sankhacakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim

I bow to the lotus feet of the guru
who awakens insight into the happiness of pure Being,
who is the final refuge, the jungle physician,
who eliminates the delusion caused by the poisonous
herb of samsara [conditioned existence].

I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads
[in his form 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, representing infinite time]
and a sword [discrimination].


iyengar invocation (as chanted by BKS iyengar)

yogena cittasya padena vacam
malam sarirasya ca vaidyakena
yopakarottam pravaram muninam
patanjalim pranjaliranato smi
abahu purusakaram
sankha cakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
pranamami patanjalim
hare aum

Let us bow before the noblest of sages Patanjali,
who gave yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind,
grammar for clarity and purity of speech and
medicine for perfection of health.

Let us prostrate before Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa,
whose upper body has a human form,
whose arms hold a conch and a disc, and
who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra.

kundalini invocation (as chanted by snatam kaur)

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

I salute the creative power within; I salute the divine teacher within.

and finally, just for fun, here's madonna's version of the ashtanga invocation from her ray of light album:

shanti/ashtangi (follow directions in the new window to listen)