by Zanny Anderson
Day two of yoga teacher training:
Upon finishing a relaxing yoga practice, I’m surprised to find myself chanting the Yoga Sutras in Sanskrit over the next two hours. I ask myself, “Is this what yoga is? Interesting, but why are we doing this? I’m not sure this is for me.” My defense mechanisms and mental chatter were off the chain. I wanted to know why this was important, what were the benefits, and how this was going to enhance our practice.
This past summer, I moved to New York City with my boyfriend from Atlanta, Georgia. It’s needless to say that chanting is very rarely done in the South — known as the “bible belt” of our nation due to its conservative Christian values and more. In short, it’s not uncommon to hear people express that they feel uncomfortable chanting the word om in class (yes, that universal word associated with yoga that mostly everyone knows and recognizes.)
And so, I too was that very person. I was so surprised that I felt uncomfortable with chanting. I am neither conservative nor do I currently identify with Christianity. I consider myself a very open individual, so getting intimidated by this was really out of my character. I think it just goes to show how much your upbringing can affect you. Regardless of how different you may think you are from everyone else, people generally shy away from things they aren’t familiar with and much less adopt a foreign practice such as mantra chanting.
With this being said, I decided to keep an open mind.
Over the past week in teacher training, we were introduced to the Gayatri Mantra by our teacher, Will Duprey. The Gayatri Mantra is the mother of all chants. It flows like this:
Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt
Which translates to: We meditate on that most adored Supreme Lord, the creator, whose effulgence (divine light) illumines all realms (physical, mental and spiritual). May this divine light illumine our intellect.
Once I started chanting the mantra every day, I was pleasantly surprised with my results. Here are some of my takeaways from chanting the mantra this past week:
· Pronouncing the words of the mantra helps to move energy throughout the body
· Higher levels on concentration can be gained
· Slow controlled breathing while chanting has a positive effect on stress
With these new takeaways in mind, I have learned that I don’t need to have all the answers for why chanting is beneficial and that’s okay. Observing the ebb and flow of my own experiences and how chanting impacts my personal practice is what truly matters most. Now I welcome daily chanting into my life as part of my evolving yoga journey.