As I pull in energetically for the winter season and as I prepare to connect with family and community, I’ve been reflecting on the ideas of gratitude and generosity. It’s a season where we can be deluged with media messages about greed and consumerism, e.g. “How little can I give to get as much as possible for myself?”
Paradoxically it is also a season where we can be moved to give, or to recognize with gratitude, the generosity of others. None of us is ever truly separate from either others or from the planet that we live on. When I look backwards in my life I can see a path lined with those who have contributed in some way to every opportunity that I have been fortunate to be offered. My intention in the present is to recognize those contributions and to continue to pay that genersity forward.
As we move into the quiet season of winter, I’d invite you to use the contemplative nature of the season and the structure of the Ashtanga practice to dive a little deeper in your yoga practice. An intention of both gratitude and generosity already exist within the structure of our practice when we begin and end practice with the opening and closing chants.
Consider learning the opening chant and beginning your practice with gratitude.
Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde Sandarsita
Svatma Sukhava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohasantyai
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
A blog post is much too brief to dive into a detailed explanation of the direct translation, but an over-simplified summary might consider the first half of the opening chant as an expression of gratitude for the potential benefits of the yoga practice and for the teachers who have kept it alive. The second half of the opening chant specifically directs that gratitude to Patanjali, compiler of the Yoga Sutras.
Consider learning the closing chant and ending your practice with the intention of generosity.
Svasthi Praja Bhyaha Pari Pala Yantam
Nya Yena Margena Mahim Mahishaha
Go Brahmanebhyaha Shubamastu Nityam
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi
Closing chant is an expression of generosity. It is an intention to share whatever the fruits of practice that we have gained with the rest of the world.
After beginning practice with opening chant (gratitude) and finishing with closing chant (generosity), consider taking the well of gratitude and generosity that you have connected with in your practice and bring it into the rest of your day. Each of our small individual acts of generosity this winter season can add up to something much larger.
You can learn more about chanting in yoga practice from Ashtanga practitioner and long-time teacher, Greg Nardi in this youtube clip. Greg has spent many years studying chanting, Sanskrit and yoga philosophy from master teachers. Don’t miss the chance to learn from Greg when we host him for a weekend workshop at Ashtanga Yoga Asheville – The Mysore Room on April 17-19, 2020! (Save-the-date! Registration will open in January.)