In this morning’s class, one student brought printed out words to the Invocation to Patanjali she found on the internet because she wanted to learn the chant. She distributed copies for all the students. Unfortunately, she ended just printing out the first few lines and cut off a word. We already have printed versions of the whole chant at the studio in laminated cards, but I don’t pass them out. I simply chant when the clock hits seven am.
She asked why don’t I pass out the words? That is a question I ask myself often, but here is what the “words” look like:
They are a bit intimidating for the beginner. Especially at 7 am. In my best voice I chant the words. It is call and response. This is how I always start the class.
Yoga is an oral tradition. This is how it has been taught from a long time ago. People didn’t learn with laminated cards with phonetic spellings. They learned from simple call and response.
There is much more to it than that. The invocation is a skillfully concealed pranayama. You don’t read a pranayama. You breathe it. It is the use of sound to unify the class from the beginning. It gets us on the same “page.”
It is a metaphysical chant. The sound forms purify the nadi-s and spin the wheels of the chakras. The chant generates a field around the student to allow absorption of the teachings.
So perhaps next class I will pass out the laminated copies to compare the experience. You never know, they might just “learn” the chant that way…
On a happy note, today marks Iyengar Home Practice’s sixth anniversary. Hopefully there will be many more.
I have a few classes where I hand out the invocation and a few where I don’t. I agree that it loses something when it is read rather than repeated, but I think sometimes it helps those who are new to feel like they can join in. I often give a little talk about why we use the invocation and placing it within a context. Thanks for your posts! Always thoughtful and interesting.
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After many weeks, I chanted the invocation aloud today. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is how the cue of sitting tall with a mention of some part of the body sets the tone for the rest of the class. Like we did sides of the trunk this morning and proceeded for some of the most beautiful forward extensions.
Congratulations on your 6th anniversary and I am so very very glad you post here. Your posts have been a companion on my yoga journey. 🤗
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