Taj-japas tad-artha-bhavanam (Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras I.28)
The repetition and contemplation of (AUM-pravana) brings the realisation of its meaning.
I went into a local yoga studio the other day and there was a huge poster with someone in headstand on it and the strapline ‘Yoga without the OMs’. I believe the teachers there were well meaning; they said they believed it would bring more people in. However, dumbing down what yoga is for the success of one’s business seems a little sad. Much of the current yoga scene trades on the removal of the spiritual content of the tradition. At this time, it seems all the more important to remind ourselves and our students of why we practice. I have found myself practising and offering more chanting and pranayama in the last few years and wonder whether this is, in part, a quiet response to the sad turn away from these subtle and profound aspects of yoga practice during its rise in popularity of yoga in the west.
Chanting is a powerful practice for meditation, breathing and memory. Whilst my memory and pronunciation still leave something to be desired. I love to chant and chant with love.
Here is a video by the wonderful Greg Nardi on why chanting is important and some videos from Joey Miles with the opening and closing chants of Ashtanga and pose names if you want to try them at home. Enjoy!