Today I finished up an intense 11 day retreat with my teacher. (Just in case you missed me during classes, I am back as of Tuesday morning). I am so grateful to have had everything in my life fall into place and allow me the time and resources to be able to attend the whole session. (Thank you so much Yoga Loka Staff and my ever-patient family!) This was an unusually long stretch of time spent together as a Sangha. We were finishing up year 2 of our training and began our final year, year 3, in the same block of time.
The training has so far included pujas, fire ceremonies, hours of sitting in meditation and hours of asana practices, reading, homework, attending lectures .... just like for any one who strives to learn something in depth, it takes a lot of time and effort. There were many years of practice and study that led up to participating in this training which included the same elements, just at a different level of understanding.
If you asked me what was the most potent thing we have worked with so far, it would be mantra. Chanting, chanting and more chanting of mantras, out loud or silently, while sitting, standing, doing asana and even dancing. The power of mantra is real, effective, and powerful, and vitally important in this lineage. It is funny in a way to have done so much, and find that it was simply the mantra after all.
It is never too late, or early, to start chanting, and there are so many wonderful ways to do that. Give it a try! You can start this Thursday at 7:00 pm with the yoga class I am leading with Girish. He will be chanting mantras for you while you move, or just sit. This is a great way to feel the mantras in your body. He will also be offering a Kirtan at Sky Island in Upper Black Eddy PA on Friday. That is when you can chant along while sitting. These two experiences are the best way to quickly feel mantra power! You will know what I mean at the end of the event. There will also be more classes in the fall that will give you the opportunity to practice, learn about, and understand the power of mantras! Stay tuned....
I love when modern science lines up with ancient knowledge. With science getting more and more sophisticated, and reports of this work becoming more accessible because of the internet, we are seeing in writing the ideas that uphold what those of us who have been studying, and trusting, yoga for years have experienced. It almost makes one want to shake their finger and say "told you so", but of course I would never do that. (Click to read the article on "the Sanskrit Effect")
Once, many years ago, there was another yoga studio in the area that advertised their classes as being "real yoga" with "no chanting at all!" I knew this was directed at classes at Yoga Loka because we chant! I also know it makes some people uncomfortable. But some people also are uncomfortable getting their teeth cleaned, exercising, getting a yearly physical, relaxing, and doing a million other things that keep them healthy, vital, and enjoying life.
Now there is this report that says chanting is good for us too. There are people who just know they like it, which is surely enough reason to just do it. But knowing you are helping your brain as you join in with your favorite kirtan wallah is like winning the lottery! OK, maybe that is too dramatic and you are not that into chanting. Just know that even listening to mantras can have an effect on your energy, your mind, and your physical brain. No need to even open your mouth. My training has taught me that mantras repeated internally actually have the greatest benefit. But joining your voice with others in community can not be underestimated either.
There are two great opportunities to hear mantras with amazing vibration the end of July. I will be leading an all level asana class with Girish chanting, live and in person, right there in the room with us. Moving to live music is amazing! It amplifies the benefits of both the mantra and the asana. The next night Girish will be holding a kirtan in Upper Black Eddy at Sky Island. Either of these experiences (I of course recommend you do both!) will give you the felt experience of the benefit of mantra, and you won't need a scientist to tell you that this is medicine. If you would like to read more about mantras and their vibration, Girish has an amazing book about mantra which you can find online (Amazon link below), or get a copy from him directly.
See you there!
Yoga With Bonnie/Music With Girish: Thursday July 26th, 7 to 8:30 pm. $35 to pre-register, $40 at the door. Click here to register, or click here to view all of our other workshops.