ASHTANGA IMPROVERS INFORMATION
At the beginning of every Ashtanga yoga class, the teacher will take a moment to lead the students in chanting a few lines of Sanskrit. As you chant, you close your eyes and focus your attention inward to prepare yourself for the rigors of the class.
Literally, the chant refers to the tradition of honoring the wisdom of the teachers who passed down the ancient yoga traditions. In a practical sense, the chant helps you mark a division between your everyday activities and the Ashtanga class that is about to begin.
The chant is as follows:
vande gurunam charanaravinde
sandarsita svatmasukhava bodhe
samsara halahala mohasantyai
sahasra sirasam svetam
(Translation into English)
I bow to the lotus feet of the guru
who awakens insight into the happiness of pure Being,
who is the final refuge, the jungle physician,
who eliminates the delusion caused by the poisonous
herb of samsara [conditioned existence].
I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of radiant, white heads
[in his form as the divine serpent, Ananta]
and who has, as far as his arms,
assumed the form of a man holding a conch shell [divine sound],