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Posts Tagged ‘chanting’

Om is more than a word – it is an intonation, like music or vibration.  It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, essentially “A” – “U” – “M”.  It is often said that the sound of Om contains in it all other sounds. In the Upanishads Om is considered to be an all-encompassing mystical entity- the voice of God, or as I like to think of it, the sound of the universe. As sacred texts declare, the vibration of Om is supposed to penetrate one’s soul, transcend the past, present and future, and reveal the truth.

So the question remains: om or no om?

Having been a past practitioner at Jivamukti where they chant, A LOT, in their classes I have built up a tolerance to chanting in general.  I enjoy it- but on occasion and in the right place at the right time.  In fact, I have to admit I’m not one who enjoys chanting when I show up to a yoga class expecting to jump right into the physical aspect.

I do however, ALWAYS enjoy chanting om at the beginning and end of the class.  My favorite is actually chanting om in rounds.  Not exactly, Row Row Your Boat style but more or less just following the rise and fall of your own breath rather than the instructor/leader of the chant.  I like to imagine that there must be times when all the yogis around Manhattan (i.e. Union Square) are chanting om at once given that there are so many studios with similar class schedules.  You would think there must be a few hundred people chanting om come 7:30 on the weekdays across Manhattan.  Pretty cool, huh?

What I find odd, and actually awkward is some classes choose to chant om at the start of class and not at the end (Dana Strong does this at YogaWorks).  There’s something about closing with om that makes you feel full or satisfied.  Maybe it’s just me.  But as my teaching philosophy has developed I believe whole heartedly in om, and less so in chanting before class.  Truth is, I’m there to practice like everyone else and chanting (while nice) is sometimes hard to fit into the hour and a half you’re on the mat.  Oh and what’s up with instructors who pick obscure chants that no one can repeat – that’s just uncomfortable for everyone!

-Eliza

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Eliza & Britt

Miss Liza!  In our same visit to Prana Power this weekend, we did notice a permit for 2 showers!  But they still sell water bottles.  Shame shame.

As Liza continues her teacher training, I recommended that she seek out a kirtan (chanting).  My understanding of this, is that by chanting the sanskrit names of gods, you are evoking their presence and perhaps getting closer to them, a vital step to enlightenment.  Mostly chants are call and response, but many times if a mantra is repeated over and over and people know it, they just continue on singing.  I’ve been to several chants, all of which are always a little weird to start out, but end up being a lot of fun.  My first chant was in LA with Krishna Das (if you’ve ever stepped foot in a yoga studio, you’ve heard him- he’s the ultimate yoga rockstar).  There is always an interesting mix of people at these events, hippies, gentrified yogis, people who dance, people who sway, people who do absolutely nothing but observe.  The chants I’ve been to have always had great musicians and personally, I like a lot of the music they play!  Energy builds as the night goes on, and slowly people let go and more and more participate.  There is definitely a sense of freedom and child-like play that you feel when you’re in one of these.  Think about the last time that you sang out loud with a group of people.  Probably in grade school!  So, at least in my experience, its doesn’t matter what I’m chanting, shiva, shanti, krishna, om- its the ability to let go of adult conventions and share with people around you.  I’ve listed some New York kirtans, which you should absolutely try to make!

Yogaworks is doing one Saturday, August 16th from 7:30-9:30pm at their midtown studio.

Integral Yoga Institute does one every Friday at 8.

Jivamukti hold satsangs every Wednesday at 8:30pm, except the first Wednesday of the month, when the program begins at 8:00pm.

The Omega Institute is doing as Esctatic Chant Weekend from August 29-September 1st, which would really be jumping in full force!  Krishna Das with Carioca, Sheila Chandra, Krishna Das, Miten, Deva Premal, Jai Uttal, and Wah! are all expected to be there.

-Britt

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