What does the Ashtanga Yoga Opening Mantra Mean?
Why do we chant before practice?
I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
Who teaches knowledge, awakening the great happiness of the self-revealed
The supreme Guru represents the practice, God, The Divine, or The Universe – whatever you call it. God is not used as a religious term here, but a universal term for the divine which is within and connects all of us.
Since The Divine is in all of us, and all encompassing of all things in this world, this is also a symbol of gratitude and thanks to all of the teachers who have brought us this practice. You are a part of The Divine as well, so remember that you are thanking yourself for stepping on the mat and doing the work.
Who acts like the jungle physician
Able to remove the delusion from the poison of conditioned existence
The jungle represents the monkey mind. It represents all of the mind chatter (vrittis), the crazy stories, and suffering that we create. Samasara is the conditioned existence. This is the act of repeating our patterns that create suffering over and over.
There are many conditioned beliefs within our conditioned existence which create vrittis that we absorbed from our upbringing.
Example: Your dad left you as a child when you were young. Therefore, as a woman, you continue to get into relationships with men who are unavailable, or you sabotage the relationship because you are expecting him to leave. You don’t even realize you do this because it’s so ingrained.
We believe these things to be true because it’s all that we know, and what we’re used to. Look deeper and you’ll see that there is no absolute truth.
Our whole human existence is a conditioned belief. The practice is medicine. It acts as a doctor to break you free of these conditioned beliefs that cloud the mind and cause suffering.
To Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, white in color with a thousand radiant heads (in his form as the divine serpent), human in form below the shoulders, holding the sword of discrimination, a wheel of fire representing infinite time, and the conch representing divine sound to him, I prostrate.
This is actually a second poem, which is an expression of immense gratitude to Patanjali, who documented the yoga sutras. Here, we thank Patanjali and acknowledge the importance and integration that the lessons of the sutras have in the physical practice.
I hope that gave you a little bit of insight! Chant with me on the video below!
Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarshita Svatma Sukava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam