So I am off the back of a wonderful Yoga training last weekend in Glastonbury that was spent backbending, on my head and meditating - lots!
I returned feeling blissed, but also feeling hyped. My tutor joked how it can do crazy things to you these upside down asanas and we all laughed... she was right. I firstly took the opportunity to get an early night and embrace the chilled presence I owned, however 4 hours after pulling over the blanket, I managed to close my eyes and then in dream state I never quite fell asleep, dreaming vividly about performing Kirtan amoungst other things, that included a lot of memories from the past coming to life. I am not really promoting doing Yoga, am i?
I guess what I am trying to highlight here is the power that this practice we call YOGA holds. It is not a simple case of getting on the mat, working up a sweat in some cases and essentially increasing your strength and flexibility. No way! This thing we call Yoga goes far beyond that, if you take the time to be fully present in what might occur after your practice, transformation it creates, as well as the itchy stuff that it stirs. You may also be one of those students that has not yet had the opportunity to delve in to its philosophies, maybe you don't wish to?!
For some students they want a work out (and I understand that fully), whereas for others they may wish to dive in and gain further wisdom beyond what happens on the mat (I fully understand this too). We discussed this observation this weekend... asking, when is it appropriate and how to introduce some philosophy in to the class?? There were many responses to this question. But like anything in life, there is no right or wrong and what might resonate with one may completely repel another. So authenticity is where we got to. Connecting people in a way that they can relate to philosophy in the present day we live in now and using language that people can understand, is possibly the way to go. Never however to shy away from simply offering more that what is expected, as of corse expectation is never a good thing.
What do you think?
For example... Are you someone that joins in on the chant of 'Om' '? YES/ NO
The word Om or AUM is rooted in Yogic Vedic Philosophy, did you know that?! YES/ NO
Are you interested in knowing this?! YES/ NO
Well, if YES, READ ON. If NO, well, read on anyway...
The Upanishads, an ancient Vedic text, is one that I am delving in to more and more and for some, it is poetry, for others it is a "What the ****?" kind of read. I love it! But, I love poetry, so maybe that is why. The essence of it is how its content ultimately underpins some of life essential thinking for transformation that Yogic or not, offers food for thought.
You might begin to understand what I mean when it comes to why we Chant 'AUM', if I offer you the following... This is the end passage from one Upanishad named Mandukya (and i'll attempt to offer a translation - I hasten to add is simply my basic viewpoint and not a full detailed explanation)
'The mantra AUM stands for the supreme state
Of Turiya, without parts, beyond birth
And death, symbol of everlasting joy.
Those who know AUM as the Self become the Self;
Truly they become the Self.'
No idea what that means>? Well, Mandukya is the briefest of the major Upanishads. It is said that if only studying one, this one should be it! The full Upanishad text describes how we all experience four states of conciousness which are 'waking', 'dreaming', 'dreamless sleep' and the fourth (being the ultimate) an 'indescribable state of consciousness' known as Turiya, where there is no longer an 'I', it is consciousness itself. Four steps from everyday reality to the supreme experience.
'AUM' or Om.
You all know this word right?! Well we chant it at the end of class and sometimes inbetween, and yet it is not just a word, it is not just a sound... it has presence, relevance and meaning beyond that which we may already be aware. It is in fact, the sacred syllable that represents this fourth state of consciousness. Each letter A, U and M have significance. All together they stand for the mantrum - a form of sacred utterance. It could be said that this passage of AUM suggests that reality is not limited to the world of changing phenomena and invites us to regain our spiritual home in the changeless.
So what did I say again about using language that is relevant and relates to us now?.... ok! So!...
When you chant Om in class next, just remember one thing. This is not just a word, this is not just a sound, this is a moment of being conscious where you might transcend beyond your reality a state of being, in that moment, that connects to the central part of you that is indescribable. The word may hold the same qualities as GOD to some... where it may have the statue to still the mind and become aware of the divine. The divine being that which is bigger than you, the 'I - dentity' you hold for yourself does not exist when chanting AUM. You are simply the Self. 'Self' here meaning the inner wisdom you hold, call it 'sprit, 'soul', that which has no i-D. Chanting a Mantra is considered 'mind freeing'. The underpinning strengths of mantra are the vibrations. Rooted in its meaning, we chant the 'Mantra' 'om/aum' as a means to meditate on the moment AND mostly if you have a go at chanting it, it does what is says on the tin.... helps to free and liberate the mind.
Give it a go! Feel and listen within. Patanjali says this word denotes the fullness of 'The divine or God, represents him (or her) and brings him (or her) to you. A name may mean something but it can not convey the exact nature of that thing. But Om holds it all.
A - udible sound begins with A and is the beginning of all sounds and every language. By simply opening the mouth you make the sound A or Ah.
U - or ooo is produced as the sound travels forwards between the tongue and the palette up to the lips.
M - outh closed produces the MMMMMMMMM.
"SO A U M, includes the entire process of sound, and all other sounds are contained within it. Thus, Om is the origin." - Patanjali.
Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...... . When the sound ends there is still a vibration. it is that sound that is always within you, if you take the time to be quiet in your mind to hear it. Thinking creates sound, because thought itself is speaking. The hum is connected with Prana which we know to be the basic vibration which always exists within, the primordial energy. Even in sleeping state, movement is still there (which explains my insomnia on sunday night). Scientifically, no one can stop the atomic vibration. So with this mystic word or Mantrum it defines like all others that which keeps the mind steady and produces the proper effect. Being a union of sound and meaning that brings attention to the beauty within you!
THIS WEEK - From mantras to asanas, this weeks practice (upon request) will move in a free form Prana vinyasa style, to some Bhajans, amongst other tunes and yes, we will chant Om together at some point - lets get vibrating and flowing to new creative dimensions.
Hope to see you there!
TUESDAY PM YOGA i-D - 19:30-21:00 - Matter Wholefoods, BS5.