Guru Poornima notes, or why I went from an asana-based practice to a mantra-based practice

Hi all, today’s full moon hails in Guru Poornima, or the annual event where one’s guru is observed and honored. Although I don’t teach asana anymore, I still honor what I have learned from the Iyengar family, whom I consider my guru. When I was learning to be a teacher, I heard of the time when Prashantji was in a terrible accident. During his convalescence. it was said that the Iyengar family chanted mantras to assist him in his recovery. It is said that prior to that, the invocation to Patanjali was not chanted at all during classes they taught. Not only did Prashant survive, he later became one of the world’s most influential teachers not so much on how he taught asanas, but how he used asana as a means to gain adhyatmik knowledge combining body, mind, and breath. Now the Invocation to Patanjali and Guru Mantra are included in Iyengar classes.

I chanted the Guru Mantra today. Shortly afterwards, a friend who reads my blog reached out to me. I gave him a call and we had a nice conversation about yoga, life and writing. It reminded me that mantras produce daily miracles, much like prayer. In fact Prashantji calls mantras prayers. They are one in the same.

There was a time in my life when I really needed and benefitted from asana. I probably still need them as much, but have not been as focused on them as my nightly mantra practice. I feel they have given me blessings and the fortitude to withstand a lot of pain over the past few years.

If you have read my blog the past few years, I would like to impart that yoga can take you on journey that is only yours alone. You can use techniques from teachers to learn certain skills, but only you can walk your path. Use what you learn in any form of yoga you practice to gain insight to take the next step whatever that will be. For me, this is the path of yoga.

Many blessings during this auspicious day!

8 thoughts on “Guru Poornima notes, or why I went from an asana-based practice to a mantra-based practice

  1. Amber Foxx

    I never knew that background on the invocation to Patanjali. Thanks for sharing it. While mantra practice has never (pardon the pun) resonated with me outside of classes, I’ve found mudra practice valuable as well as asana. It’s all attuning to the same universal energy.

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    1. YB Post author

      Resonated, lol. I hope all is well with you, Amber. Lately I’ve been doing Saraswati mantras, and it is helping me lift out of a long writer’s block. As a pro, how do you deal with writer’s block?

      Liked by 1 person

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      1. Amber Foxx

        I just write. Like my yoga practice. I show up, and once I start I become absorbed in it. I can revise bad prose, but I can’t revise nothing. I get up and walk back and forth when my writing seems stuck and then sit back down and explore the obstacle. I’ve been so preoccupied with a book in progress I’ve forgotten to post on my blog, though.

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  2. sweetspontaneous

    I used to be into Iyengar yoga and mantras but lately I find that too serious. I am more into flight: aerial yoga and getting into using the yoga trapeze lately while mantras have become simple songs. Have you heard of the music group Beautiful Chorus? They sing English mantras for meditation. I listen to their songs. I want to play!

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  3. babycrow

    It’s so nice to read your words!
    I maintain a basic mantra practice (of course guru mantra lately!) but asana has taken the fore more in recent years. It is so interesting how parts of yoga ebb and flow, or come into and out of focus — and always with some new flavour. I feel quite seasoned being able to reflect…. though still such a beginner with less than 10 years of practice 🙂

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    1. YB Post author

      Thank you for your kind words. Your practice has always been inspiring to me and I have always appreciated your efforts to learn Sanskrit. Getting the correct sounds is a key to mantra practice. Learning Sanskrit and learning mantras are very similar endeavors. Many blessings to you 🙂

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