Yoga Mantras and Chants
Why I end my classes with poems
I wrote already about my beginnings and how my career of yoga and Pilates instructor and massage therapist started from a fascination with the human body and its movement. I also wrote on the body being a beautiful system that works as one and we can only treat it holistically. So, our minds are part of the story as well, with our feelings and our spiritualities. This holistic approach is the essence of yoga. Yoga is not only a physical practice, but it’s also a philosophy for life, based mostly on ancient texts called Yoga Sutras – an interesting yoga reading if you are interested. One of the practices that came from these old traditions and are used today by some yoga schools are mantras and chants.
A lot of us have probably been once or twice to a yoga class which started or ended with a chant in a language we didn’t understand. We felt a bit awkward, maybe mumbled a bit along with the sound of it and continued with the practice when it ended. Mantras are part of the complex tradition which some teachers decide not to follow. And I am one of them!
Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the chants, their study and use are probably purposeful. However, maybe if we chanted in a language we understand, in a form we understand, perhaps it would make it a bit more meaningful? I believe that things could be updated and made more relevant to people who are in the class. And most of my students don’t know how to read Sanskrit.
That is why, at the end of my classes, I read poems – in English. They are usually short poems that I read to bring additional depth to a class, make people use their mind to a different perspective after they tired their bodies. Last week, I read a poem that reminds us of that moment of calm when we just wake up, right before we start facing the world for the day and invites us to carry that moment throughout the day. Because that is, among other things, yoga – that moment of bliss we feel at the end of the practice.