YOGENA CITTASYA PADENA VACAM
MALAM SARIRASYACA VAIDYAKENA
YOPAKAROTTAM PRAVARAM MUNINAM
SANKHA CAKRASI DHARINAM
SAHASRA SIRASAM SVETAM
To the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave us yoga for serenity of mind,
grammar for purity of speech and medicine for the perfection of body, I salute.
First I honor Patanjali whose upper part has a human form,
whose arms hold a conch and a disc and is crowned by a cobra
with a thousand heads. Oh incarnation of Adisesa,
my humble salutations to thee.
At the beginning of my first Iyengar yoga class there was this moment where everyone were sit, with the palms in front of their chest, waiting for the teacher to sing.
A part of me now feels little embarrassed because, in that first approach to the Invocation of Patañjali I laughed.
I laughed because I didn´t know the song and because I thought Why are they doing this?
After the class I spoke with my teacher and she told me about the meaning of the song and about the tradition.
During all this years of practice, workshops and teachings, that word “tradition” it´s coming once, again and again. I remember when Marina Chaselón –a senior yoga teacher from Argentina- talked about how important is to know the name of the postures and to know for what specific posture the props were created (even though after we can use the props in new ways). All of this was important because Yoga is a tradition that doesn´t belong to us. It is important because in that manner we show respect for it´s tradition.
The interesting thing is that in Marina´s class we never sang the invocation. Neither we did with my first teacher.
Now I feel that the moment of the invocation is a moment that reminds us about this tradition. It is a moment where you can connect with yourself and in some way, understand that yoga is not for the body but for the mind, and from there yoga is for the soul.
Also, I understand when some students feel weird when we start the class singing, because I know through my own experience that it takes time to open yourself and change old habits, it takes –maybe- years to understand that the practice is about devotion, it´s about surrendering to what is vastly greater than us. We can call that God, the Self, Light, it has so many names and we can found this outside or within us. Or singing to the wise old sages who, have left us these gifts that now are tradition for me.