“If we know anything about a path at all, it’s only because of the Great ones that have gone before us. Out of their love and kindness, they have left some footprints for us to follow. So, in the same way that they wish for us, we wish that all beings everywhere, including ourselves, be safe, be happy, have good health, and enough to eat. And may we all live at ease of heart with whatever comes to us in life.”
– Kirtan closing prayer by Krishna Das
I really like Krishna Das. He chants sacred names and he travels around letting people practice chanting names of God with him. It’s all very holy and awesome. To my knowledge he hasn’t been to Pensacola, but don’t worry, we’ll get him down here. I periodically send him emails reminding him there is Bhakti in the south. We’ll get to what Bhakti is here in a little but, but those emails I’m sending Krishna Das aren’t getting any friendlier.
My next missive might just say how I’ve had about enough and that he ought to get the next flight into Pensacola International Airport so we can all Namah Shivaya with him well into the night. Feel free to email him, too. Tell him Nickie sent you.
I love devotional chanting. It’s another way to practice yoga. You can chant in different postures but that’s not part of it. You don’t have to stand on your head to practice, but as far as I know there’s no rule saying you can’t, either. Yoga means union – to yoke – and chanting is a practice that unites mind and breath and brings them into direct relation with Grace. It unites the human part of you with the Divine part of you.
Remember, in asana (postures) we often assume poses named after Saints, Gods and sacred animals. It really is all yoga, baby. There’s a whole lot more going on than just striking a pose, which is also lots of fun and part of yoga practice, too.
In devotional chanting practices, you sit or stand or dance and repeat the name of God – whatever name you like, whatever name belongs to the face your heart recognizes best. That’s a Bhakti practice.
In chanting practice you don’t have to chant to someone. You don’t have to flip through an encyclopedia of world’s religions and pick a god out of the lineup. Chanting in Sanskrit, this sacred language based in vibration, the very sound of the words is resonant with healing and the intention behind the phrase. It all comes from the same source of inspiration.
This week at the yoga studio we’ll be learning and focusing on a chant with an intention to elevate the practitioner and to bring us into a beneficial relationship with those around us.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
lokah: location, realm, all universes existing now
samastah: all beings sharing that same location
sukhino: centered in happiness and joy, free from suffering
bhav: the divine mood or state of unified existence
antu: may it be so, it must be so (antu used as an ending here transforms this mantra into a powerful pledge)
As they say, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may my thoughts, words and actions contribute to that freedom.”
Even my rotten dog who gets in the trash? Yes, may she be happy and free and may she also stay the hell out of the trash. As for those challenging people I meet in customer service? Yup, them too.
Me? May I be happy and free, too? Yes, even me. Yes, even you.
Yoga is so impersonal. It’s one of the reasons I trust and love the practice. If you do the work over time it will work on you. I have ill tempered days and sometimes I don’t feel like working, I don’t feel like sitting on my meditation cushion and I surely don’t feel like taking a deep breath and refraining from saying the snarky thing I think to say.
The work is in doing it anyway. That’s what my teacher teaches. I trust this – the grace is when the work works. When these practices work for you it is easy to become devoted to them.
If you find the thing that relieves back pain or radiating sciatica, then wouldn’t you be hopelessly devoted to that thing? And then for that thing to reveal it’s deeper levels, that you’re happier and more kind without that pain, to discover that you have an unimaginable depth that you can reach – you’d practice that practice forever.
So let’s practice together. In honor of becoming happy and free we’ll focus on liberating tension from the neck and shoulders this week in addition to working on wellness for the low back. After all, if you’re less focused on that nagging back or aching shoulder then you’ll be more likely to invest in the happiness of those around you. Everyone wins.
Back to normal schedule this week. Uru Yoga and Beyond Monday 4:30pm and 6 pm and Thursday 4 pm (Intro to Yoga) and 5:30pm mixed level. Please see the website for full schedule and class description.
Chip’s 24 Hour Fitness Tuesday and Friday 3:30 all levels of experience welcome
* the Sanskrit translation is from Sharon Gannon at jivamuktiyoga.com/