Tag: mantra

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo | Adi Mantra Meaning, Uses and Meditation #sanskritmantra #mantra #adimantra #meditation

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo mantra

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo | Adi Mantra Meaning, Uses and Meditation #sanskritmantra #mantra #adimantra #meditation

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo (also called the adi mantra) is a beautiful, deeply moving mantra.  It’s is often chanted at the beginning of a practice, especially in Kundalini Yoga .  It’s a great way to center yourself and tune in to your subtle body and focus your mind.  It allows us to connect with self-knowledge and the divine.

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Meaning

This mantra asks you to believe in your own internal wisdom; to trust and listen to your inner guidance.  It states that you are your own best teacher and you must trust yourself and your own wisdom.  Another rendition of the translation says “I bow to the Divine Wisdom within myself.”   The mantra also recognizes that everything is one and also means “I bow to the All-That-Is.”

Translation Break-Down

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Ong means subtle divine wisdom or infinite energy; all-that-is

Namo means I reverently bow/greet/salute

Guru means teacher– giver of wisdom

Gu means darkness

Ru means light

Guru means the one who brings you from dark to light

Dev means divine

Namo means I reverently bow/greet/salute

How to use the mantra

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To chant the mantra, sit in easy pose (sukhasana)- cross legged, but with both ankles on the floor.  Bring your palms to touch in anjali mudra (prayer) with your thumbs touching your sternum.  This pose creates a nice base for concentrating on bringing the mantra in.

Typically, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo is chanted at least three times for past, present, future.  Alternatively, it can be used as a meditation, attaching the mantra to each breath.  Or a mala can be used– moving one bead for each repetition of the mantra.

 

 

 

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo | Adi Mantra Meaning, Uses and Meditation #sanskritmantra #mantra #adimantra #meditation

Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakra

Third Eye Chakra | Ajna Chakra | Balance, Meditation, Mantra, Mudra, and More

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
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Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakraThe Third Eye Chakra is called the Ajna chakra in Sanskrit.  It is located between your two eyebrows, slightly above them on your forehead, so it is also sometimes called the brow chakra.  It is responsible for seeing within the self and in the outer world.  This manifests as imagination, insight, foresight, openness, perception, and motivating creativity.  It’s one of the more spiritual rather than physical chakras.

This chakra helps align the concept of “I” or the individual with the whole or the consciousness.  This means this chakra helps you see the interconnectedness of everything and feel free from the self, as part of the whole.

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Imbalance

An under-active third eye chakra leads to a feeling of monotony- like you’re stuck in routine.  This scenario leads to a lack of clarity and perspective.  It can also lead to rejecting spirituality.

An over-active third eye chakra can lead to living in a sort of fantasy– a loss-of-touch with reality.


Balancing Techniques


Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakra

Let your creative spirit soar!  Visualize, dream, but don’t completely lose sight of the ground.  Let your mind rest from daily ponderings and wonderings with meditation or a walk in nature, especially under the moon.  Follow your intuition.  Trust it and yourself.

Mudra

Try the Kaleshwar mudra.  With your middle fingers straight, press their finger tips together.  Bring the finger tips of the thumbs together too.  Bend all of the other fingers so that they can touch at the second knuckle.

Mantra

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The mantra associated with the third eye chakra is a classic: aum (or om).  This is the sound of the universe.

Affirmations in English include

  • I trust my intuition
  • I care for my spirit
  • I am connected
  • I am open to inspiration
  • I love myself
  • I see

Asana

Poses where your third eye is pointed toward the Earth like balasana (happy baby), half forward fold (ardha uttanasana), dolphin (ardha pincha mayurasana) and downward dog (adho mukha svanasana) can help.  Other strong poses assosciated with the third eye chakra include shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana) and hero pose (virasana).

Indigo-Blue-Purple

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The third eye chakra is associated with a indigo or dark blue and sometimes blue-purple.  You can harness the energy of this chakra by surrounding yourself with this color- in your clothes and your home.   Also meditating on the color can help.  Try to focus your energy into your third eye and imagine an indigo ball of energy at your third eye.  Eating foods that are this color can help too like blueberries and blackberries, plums, eggplant and beets.  Gems that help this chakra include lapis lazuli, amethyst, azurite, moonstone and clear crystal quartz.  Rosemary, juniper and sandalwood aromatherapy also benefits the third eye chakra.

The third eye chakra is crucial to trusting and believing in yourself.  Intuition and creativity thrive when this chakra is open and balanced.

Third Eye Chakra (brow chakra, ajna chakra): meditation, mantra, mudra, balancing, asana, and more! #chakras #thirdeyechakra

Lotus for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra

Throat chakra: meanings, meditation, balancing, mantras and mudra

Lotus for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantraThe Throat Chakra (or Vishuddha Chakra in Sanskrit) is located primarily in the neck, but also encompasses the shoulders, jaw, mouth, and thyroid.  It is the first of the more spiritual chakras, following the Heart Chakra.  The Heart Chakra is a mix between spiritual and physical chakras, with the definitively physical chakras below the heart chakra and the spiritual chakras above.

The throat chakra is associated with sky blue or turquoise-blue and the element of ether or space.  The throat chakra is responsible for sound and expression through sound.  This chakra is also correlated with all kinds of communication.  It can also be associated with finding your purpose and embracing your individuality. Location of the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra It is also related to creativity and turning ideas into reality.  The sacral chakra, which is responsible for creativity and emotion, is closely linked to this function of the throat chakra.  The throat chakra helps us express emotions and creative ideas.  It also helps us express truth, both in terms of finding our truest feelings and finding the strength to share them.  The throat chakra is sensitive to misinformation or unkind words.  Negativity and lies can quickly disrupt the balance of the chakra.

Imbalance of the Throat Chakra

A blocked throat chakra can lead to feelings of uncertainty, or an inability to find your truth.  It can also cause you to be unable to express that truth if you have found it.  A clear, open throat chakra allows you to comfortably and confidently share your feelings, thoughts and ideas.  A blocked throat chakra can manifest itself physically as a sore throat, head ache, tooth ache, neck pain or thyroid problems.  A blocked throat chakra can also manifest emotionally as shyness, fear, lack of creativity, inability to express yourself, or social anxiety.  On the other hand, excessive throat chakra openness can lead you to become overly dominant or manipulative.

Some of the techniques below can help restore balance to the throat chakra.

MudraMudra for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra

As you prepare to meditate, chant or sing, try this throat chakra mudra.  Interlace your fingers so that the tips come inside the palms.  Connect the tips of the thumbs, reaching slightly up to round the shape of the hands.  Place your connected mudra in your lap, find a comfortable upright seat and then add mantra, meditation or another technique of your choice.

Mantra

To open the throat chakra, try to bij mantra or seed mantra sound, “ham.”  You can chant it aloud or internally.

If you prefer English, you can try the affirmation, “I speak.”  If you have something specific you want to say, thinking about the words or mood you wish to invoke can also help.

 

Other ways to engage your throat chakra

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Singing, crying, chanting, laughing, and talking can also help your throat chakra release blockages and open again.  Allow your throat freedom- release and take on these actions fully– laugh with your whole heart, sing with all of the air and volume you can muster, or weep sob and moan.  It’s only for you.

Also, pranayama like Ujjayi breath can help your throat chakra.

Meditations

Image a blue light in your throat.  Slowly allow that light to emanate out from your throat.  Allow the light to open your airways and your mind.  Allow it to heal you and soothe you.

Alternatively you can imagine releasing your negative feelings on your exhales during a meditation.  Allow yourself to fully feel your feelings, observe them and release them.  Allow yourself to move past feelings that don’t serve you.  Reunite with your truth and your confidence.

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Asana

Asanas that stretch the neck are best for the throat chakra, like gently rolling the neck, camel, shoulder stand and fish pose.

Sky Blue

All things blue are helpful for this chakra.  For foods, try blueberries, blue corn or blue-ish sweet potatoes.

Gems include saphires, aquamarine, turquoise, lapis lazuli and blue topaz.

Also, try wearing blue to encourage throat chakra energy.

All About the Throat Chakra: Meditation, Mantra, Mudra, Meaning, and Balancing

The throat chakra is a crucial spiritual force.  Confident self-expression, creativity, and self-understanding are all critical functions of the throat chakra and great reasons to give your throat chakra some extra attention and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anahata Heart Chakra: balancing, meditations, mudras, mantras and more

Heart Chakra: meanings, meditation, balancing mantras and mudra

Anahata Heart Chakra: balancing, meditations, mudras, mantras and moreThe Heart Chakra (or Anahata Chakra in Sanskrit) is located in the center of your chest, level with your physical heart.  It is the middle of the 7 chakras, with more physical chakras below and more spiritual chakras above.  It is associated with the color green and the element of air.  The heart chakra is responsible for love, warmth, compassion, generosity, forgiveness, kindness and joy.  This chakra utilizes love as a healing force, also bringing unity to your body, mind and spirit.  It can help us to identify our personal truths.

Balance

A balanced anahata chakra promotes feelings of empathy and understanding, compassion and respect– both toward others and towards the self.  Also, a balanced heart chakra helps you feel connected to life.

An imbalanced heart chakra can lead to feelings of grief, possibly hanging onto old losses or emotional pains.  Fear and ignorance reign over love.  Imbalance can also manifest physically.  Because the heart chakra is associated with air and located in the chest, pain and illnesses can form in the lungs, chest and heart.

An overly open heart chakra can lead to excessive expectations of others socially or romantically.

MantraHridaya Mudra for the heart chakra, as well as meditation and ideas for balancing

To open the heart chakra, try to bij mantra or seed mantra sound, “Yam.”  You can chant it aloud or internally.

If you prefer English, you can embody an affirmation, “I am open to love” or “All love resides within me.”

Mudra

To access this chakra, try the Hridaya mudra.  Place the tip of the index finger at the root of the thumb.  Then bring the tips of the middle and ring fingers to meet the thumb.  Keep your pinkie straight. With both hands in the mudra, place them on your knees facing upward.  You can practice this mudra for up to 30 minutes, while focusing on the chest and heart chakra.  The middle and ring fingers are related to the energy channels (nadis) of the heart.  Closing the circuit with the thumb helps release pent-up emotions from the heart.

Meditations

Find a comfortable seat.  Take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself.  Meditation for balancing the heart chakra as well as other ideas for balancing the anahata chakraThen imagine the world sending you love.  Breath in that love on your inhalation, bringing love to your heart center.  On an exhalation, send that love around your body, letting it spread to every corner of your being, filling you with love.

If your heart chakra is already overly open, you can envision the opposite, pulling love from every corner of your being on your inhalation and on your exhalation, sending it out into the world, sharing it with those who need it most.  If you choose this version remember a candle doesn’t burn out if another candle is lit from it- you can share the love from every bit of your being without losing the love you need for a balanced anahata chakra.

As an alternative meditation, imagine a green light glowing in your heart center.  Let the light ebb and flow- follow it, however it may change, glow or grow.  Focus on it.

Asana

Heart-opening asanas help to open the heart chakra as well.  These are poses like camel, bow, dancer and cow-face pose.

GreenLocation of the Anahata chakra as well as balancing, meditations, mantras and mudras

Green foods like spinach, lettuce, kale, lime, and mint can help harness the energies of this chakra.

Green gems like emerald and jade are good for this chakra.

Finding greenery in plants and out in nature can also be a helpful cure for the heart chakra.

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The heart chakra is one of the most important chakras.  Love is so needed in our world, as are compassion and forgiveness.  Also on an individual level, this chakra is the centerpiece that connects the spiritual and physical.  A balanced anahata chakra is essential for your self and your interactions with the world.

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All about the Heart Chakra: mantra, meditation, mudra, asana, meanings, and balancing

All About Ganesha: why he’s so popular, how Ganesh can help you, his story, and a mantra you can chant or sing to Ganapati

Ganesha: story, meaning, and mantra

All About Ganesha: why he’s so popular, how Ganesh can help you, his story, and a mantra you can chant or sing to GanapatiGanesha is one of the most popular Hindu deities.  He is also one of the most easily recognizable because he has the head of an elephant.  He is known as the Remover of Obstacles so many Ganesh devotees pray or chant to him when they are struggling but wish to succeed.  Ganesha has 4 arms and rides a mouse named Krauncha.  Ganesh is also the Lord of Beginnings, as obstacles are removed Ganesha helps guide believers down new paths.  He provides prosperity and success.  He is also the patron of arts and sciences.  Ganesha also guards the Muladhara Chakra (root chakra), where kundalini resides.

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Story of Ganesha’s Birth

Parvati created Ganesha to guard her door as she bathed.  When Shiva (Parvati’s husband) returned, he tried to enter Parvati’s chamber, but Ganesha wouldn’t allow it.  Shiva was not accustomed to being disobeyed so he was furious.  In his anger, he beheaded the boy.  When Parvati emerged, she was very upset to find Ganesha beheaded and explained to Shiva that this was their son.  Shiva realized his mistake and sent his men to find a replacement for the missing head– he instructed them to take the head of the first creature they found, which turned out to be an elephant.  He placed the head on the boy’s body and breathed life back into it.  He declared Ganesha to be his son and the leader of all groups of beings (ganas), so he is also called Ganapati.  Shiva also declared Ganesha would be honored first from then on and he is found in front of many temples, guarding the gates.

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Mantra

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha


Om means wake up! (it is also the sound of the universe)

Gam is Ganesh’s bij mantra or seed mantra

Ganapataye is one of Ganesh’s names

Namaha means “it’s not me” or “it’s not mine” meaning praise and credit for success or the outcome of the prayer should be given to Ganesha, rather than the person chanting the mantra

This mantra can be chanted aloud or within as you listen.  This mantra removes obstacles, awakens kundalini, and clears a path to success.

Here’s a Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha Song from a great podcast I subscribe to, “Mantra, Kirtan and Stotra: Sanskrit Chants.”

Mantra and Kirtan Podcast: Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu/ May All Beings Be Happy and Free. Kirtan mantra chant and personal story

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu Mantra chant

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu/ May All Being Be Happy and Freeeeee

Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu/ May All Beings Be Happy and Free. Kirtan mantra chant and personal storyLonger Translation:

May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

My Experience with the Mantra:

You might not be able to tell, but I am singing this as I write.  This beautiful mantra has been stuck in my head for nearly a month now and I don’t mind at all.  It’s a lovely phrase to live by.  There have been a couple of times that I have been in a tough place emotionally (I’ll spare you the intimate details) and when this mantra came back into my mind, it softened my feelings a bit.  I’m not saying I was cured, but it helped me find perspective and a little more love to apply to the situation.

On New Year’s Day, I went to a kirtan/restorative class (what could be better) and we sang this mantra at the end of the session.  Everyone was so calm and so centered, the mantra just flowed through us, joining our hearts into one beautiful song.  I was honestly close to tears and others’ cheeks were streaked with that liquid love.  There’s such a sense of community and unity when a large group is singing together.  It’s really moving.  It’s hard to step back into the regular world untouched by such a moment or mantra, which is probably a good thing.

How you can use the mantra:

Withing you: Perhaps as a meditation or just in a spare moment, try to embody selflessly wanting happiness and freedom for all.  Not just the ones you love or agree with (of course them too), but really, truly, share with all.  All includes you as well so let happiness and freedom shine on you.  Imagine sharing that happiness and freedom with those who need it most.  Imagine others also spreading joy and freedom; know you are not alone.  Feel the happiness and freedom for yourself and let those feelings emanate from you.

Interacting with others in our world: As you move through your day, see if you can spread a little happiness or a little extra love.  It could be as simple as a sharing your smile with someone.  Or trying to see a situation from someone else’s point of view.  Even in your thoughts, you can wish someone well and maybe they will feel your positivity.

Sing it! Singing has a calming effect because you are exhaling more than you are inhaling.  It allows you to release tension, fear, anger and sadness along with your breath.  Chanting mantra is also a form of meditation.  It allows you to focus your mind on the mantra rather than your troubles, worries or to-do list even if it’s only for a moment.  You can sing along silently if you feel uncomfortable singing.  You will still receive the benefits of focusing in and the positive energy of the mantra.  Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the mantra.

Video in case you want to sing along:

I haven’t been able to find a video of the song that reflects the version that we sang at kirtan that day, but at the moment, I’m also fairly obsessed with the version in this video.  If you’re as taken with it as I am and you want to integrate the mantra into every aspect of your being, you’ll be singing along by the end.

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This beautiful mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu" is on one side of the mug, and its English translation is on the other: "May All Beings Be Happy and Free." Perfect for a cozy cup of tea or coffee. ($15-20)

 

I also designed this shirt and mug for days when I want an extra reminder of the mantra. Click through if you might want one too!

 

Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra, asana. The manipura chakra corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness. #solarplexuschakra #manipurachakra #chakras

Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra

Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra, asana. The manipura chakra corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness. #solarplexuschakra #manipurachakra #chakrasThe solar plexus chakra is called the Manipura Chakra in Sanskrit.  This third chakra is associated with the color yellow and corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness.  It’s related to your perception of who you are.  This chakra is also responsible for feelings of self-worth, ego, trust, passion, anger and guilt.  This is where your “gut feelings” come from.  Digestive functions also stem from this chakra.  The solar plexus chakra is located in the stomach area, at your navel or solar plexus.  It is associated with the element of fire.

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Mantra

The bij mantra that goes with this chakra is “rung” or “ram.”  Chanting this mantra can help awaken and ignite the solar plexus chakra.  If you prefer English, you can also chant the affirmation, “I can” or “I do,” either aloud or consciously silently.

 

Mudra

Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra, asana. The manipura chakra corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness. #solarplexuschakra #manipurachakra #chakrasAs Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra, asana. The manipura chakra corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness. #solarplexuschakra #manipurachakra #chakrasyou chant the mantra, you can also try the hakini mudra.  Bring the tips of all 5 fingers to touch, with the thumb and pinkie fingers nearly in line with each other.  Hold the mudra in front of your solar plexus as you chant the bij mantra or meditate.  Alternatively, try the rudra mudra, with your pointer and ring finger curled in to meet your thumb and your pinkie and middle finger extended.

Balance

If you solar plexus chakra is properly balanced, you will feel self-confident and secure.  You feel at peace with yourself, your emotions, and your surroundings.  You will feel at home in your place in the universe.  If this chakra is imbalanced with a deficiency, it can lead to weaknesses like indecision, sensitivity to criticism and susceptibility.  On the other hand, an excessive imbalance can lead to anger, competitiveness, and dominating tendencies.  You may not feel like you have control over your emotions if your manipura chakra is imbalanced.

Asanas

The best yoga poses for this chakra fire up the belly/core.  Some examples are poses like boat (navasana) and bow (dhanurasana).

Foods

Yellow foods (eg lentils, bell peppers, yellow pears or apples), yellow crystals or stones (eg amber or citrine), and scents (eg lemon or chamomile) can also help balance this chakra.

Meditation

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Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra, asana. The manipura chakra corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness. #solarplexuschakra #manipurachakra #chakrasFor a solar plexus meditation, imagine a bright yellow light or fire (the manipura element) burning in your belly.  Think of that fire fueling your power and energizing your passion and self-esteem.  Alternatively, if you need a more serene meditation, you can imagine a flower blooming at your solar plexus, and as it unfolds, allow it to release all of the power, self-worth, and passion you may be missing.

Alternatively, you can find healing through a more concrete fire—like taking a walk in the sun or sitting by a fireplace or bonfire.  Take in the warmth and power of the fire.

To feel whole, powerful, strong and self-confident, it is very important to balance your Manipura chakra.

 

Solar Plexus Chakra: Power and Will: meaning, meditations, balancing, mantras, mudra, asana. The manipura chakra corresponds with action, choice, power, will and liveliness. #solarplexuschakra #manipurachakra #chakras

Shiva Shambho Mantra- meaning and how to use this beautiful chant or song. Also, information about Lord Shiva and how he can help you #shiva #shivashambho

Shiva Shambho Mantra: meaning, how-to, music, and info on Lord Shiva

Shiva Shambho Mantra- meaning and how to use this beautiful chant or song.  Also, information about Lord Shiva and how he can help you #shiva #shivashambho

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One of my favorite take-aways from Yoga Teacher Training was mantra.  Mantra is the yoga of sound.  There are lots of ways to use it, but this particular post is about a sort of chanted song.  Singing is so healing for every part of your being.  I love focusing my mantra energy toward Shiva, especially in the chant, Shiva Shambho.  I like to sing it alone in my apartment even though I know the walls are thin and my neighbors can probably hear.  I also like to sing it on my motorbike with the wind rushing into my face, sweeping the words up into the universe (though I should be giving my full attention to either driving or Shiva).

About Shiva

Shiva is the transformer.  He is god of destruction and transition or transformation.  He destroys the present moment to make way for whatever is coming next.  He is also the god of yoga and is said to bring bliss.  Shiva is sometimes blue and sometimes has 4 arms.  He loves to dance.  He has a third eye on his forehead and a snake around his neck.  He wears a crescent moon on his head and the Ganga river flows from his hair.  He carries a trident and a 2-sided drum.  He rides a white bull called Nandi.  He often sits on a tiger-skin rug.

Mantra

Shiva Shambho Mantra- meaning and how to use this beautiful chant or song.  Also, information about Lord Shiva and how he can help you #shiva #shivashambhoMy favorite song goes like this:

Shiva shiva shiva shambho

Mahadeva shambo

Shiva shiva shiva shambho

Mahadeva shambo

Mahadeva shambo

Mahadeva shambo

Mahadeva shambo

Mahadeva shambo

Meaning

Shiva shambho means Shiva, “the auspicious one” and acknowledges Shiva as a greater being, beyond our dimension.  This title, Shiva Shambho calls him down to us.  Maha means great, deva means God, Shambho again means auspicious one; so this second line mahadeva shambho means Great God, the auspicious one.

This recording is from us singing at yoga teacher training. I hope you will enjoy mantra as much as we do!

 

Yoga Teacher training: the invaluable lessons yogis learn

Yoga Teacher Training: Module 2: Discover The Skills & Magic Of Teaching

Yoga Teacher training: the invaluable lessons yogis learnThe second module of yoga teacher training was a real challenge, mentally and physically.  9 days in a row is tough!  We did some soul searching and some more practice teaching.  We made more lesson plans and executed some of our own pose successions.

I was the studio assistant on the first day back.  The studio assistant helps set up the studio and observes the lesson.  Luckily, everyone brings in most of their own props (strap, blocks, bolsters, etc.) but there’s more to setting up the space than that.  There’s an altar at the front so I had to clean it, add lots of new flower petals and light candles and incense as offerings to Shiva and Ganesha.  One of the other instructors blessed the room while I worked.  At the end of the day, some props got left behind and I had to pick those up too.  I observed the asana practice and in a way was glad for my free day when I saw how hard the standing-pose and vinyasa-based class was.  It was cool to see a different instructor in action and see how he adjusted people and how he coached them.  Mark has a very likable style and everyone was laughing, along with sweating and sighing.  It was also interesting to watch my peers.  It’s interesting to see how different people react to the cues—how long it takes and whether or not they really understand the instructor’s goal.  Before and after each break, I checked in to see if the studio needed anything.

Probably the most interesting topic of this module was Ayurveda.  It’s an ancient Indian way of healing and staying healthy that goes hand in hand with yoga.  In Ayurveda, you look at your physical and personality attributes or components to determine your dosha.  Vata is light and airy, kapha is heavy and grounded, while pitta is fiery and direct.  The first test I took said I’m “tridoshic” but I doubt that I’m that well rounded.  My best guess is that I’m mostly vata with a bit of pitta.  The only way to know for sure is to see an Ayurvedic doctor.  He can take your pulse and tell right away.  We learned lots about leading an Ayurvedic life- wake up early to meditate, practice yoga, scrape your tongue, massage yourself with oils and eat a small meal for breakfast, having a big meal at lunch time, eating a lighter earlier dinner, and winding down device-free with low lights for an early night. The different times of day also have their own personality- their own dosha.  Different activities are suited to different times.  We also talked a bit about different foods people should or shouldn’t eat and the agni, or digestive fire in the belly.  Mark talked a lot about habits and how to change the old and create wonderful new using the smallest possible change- Kai Zen.  Mark also asked us about what we stand for.  I chose compassion but it was interesting to see people’s different priorities reflected in their choices- freedom, nature, care for animals, free will, equality.

In this module, Kirtan with Mei Laiwe were put on the spot to teach our peers a lot.  We were typically given about 5 minutes to prepare (though when I really teach, I’m going to put in a bit more time and care!).  It’s cool to see people move their bodies just as I say.  It’s harder than it seems though to talk about how and when they need to move what—especially lefts and rights because we practice facing our students but not doing the poses with them.  It’s hard to see what the students are doing and help them adjust if you’re busy moving your own body.  In our yoga lessons, we also talked a tiny bit about sequencing and theme-ing to try to create our own yoga classes.  We planned a couple of lessons on our own and executed a couple of poses from them with 8 peers.

We also had 4 3-hour sessions of Yoga Philosophy.  We learned about the original forms of yoga and how they evolved to include people from different walks of life.  The goal of yoga has always been awareness and removing karma.  The soul collects black karma and white karma and yoga is a good way to try to remove both.  When the soul has no more karma it may be enlightened.  We talked about death and reincarnation.  We talked about sleep as preparation for death—death is the same except that we’re reborn in a different body when we awaken.  Thinking about death and rebirth makes me feel more free to do what I feel compelled to do in this lifetime rather than worrying about other people’s expectations and preferences.  We also talked about the different stages of reincarnation.  One of the most interesting things was learning that originally yoga was only about meditation and different ways of meditating.  There were only about 16 different poses and all of them were seated for meditation until about 100 years ago and now there are over 900 poses including variations.  Yoga is meant to include 8 limbs, like outlooks on life, breath work, withdrawing the senses, etc, not just moving the body into shapes.

We also worked on some new chants and mantras.  One of the most moving experiences of the training so far was kirtan with Mei Lai.  She has such a beautiful voice and so much passion for the mantras.  Also the studio is beautiful with low lights in the evening and crickets chirping.  Before we started she asked if anyone wanted to make a flower mandala at the front of the room.  About 5 of us jumped on it.   One girl said, “I love making beautiful things!” and that’s just what we did- we made a big heart with the aum symbol in the middle.  We finished just in time to snuggle up on bolsters.  Mei Lai shines so brightly it was like pulling into a camp fire.  The room was clearly moved by the sounds of the harmonium and the group’s collective voice.

Being blessed at a Balinese Water CeremonyWe had a wonderful water ceremony too. We all walked over to the ashram and saronged-up for the occasion (sarongs and covered shoulders are temple-appropriate outfits in Bali).  We waited in a raised shelter and watched a mystical woman in yellow finery- beads and sparkles on a leopard print cushion chanting and blessing the water.  Later we went up 5 by 5 for our turn for the blessing.  We had water sprinkled and funneled over our heads.  We waved incense over us to cleanse and bring good.  We drank some of the water too- it was sweet and spiced.  It tasted like promise.  At the end we chanted and washed ourselves in the smoke of more incense, pushing the bad behind us and welcoming good.  We got flower head dresses and bracelets too.  It was a beautiful morning.

I had an appointment with Rachel, the osteopath who taught us in the first module.  We looked at my posture a bit but focused mostly on my root chakra, which is out of whack.  That’s why the love meditation hit me so hard.  I said something about not having a place of my own in the world now, and Rachel said, “yes you do,” pointing to my body.  She cracked my back in lots of different ways, did some sound therapy and put me into a deep savasana with chimes and incense of sorts.  I woke up feeling a bit lost and dreamy but in a way sort of more whole.  That night I dreamed of ceremonies and chants.  I slept deeply and only woke up about halfway in the morning.

We also did meditation and journaling on some interesting soul-searching topics.  We talked about karma; when a butterfly flaps its wings a little faster than the moment before, it creates karma.  What about our karma?  How can we reduce it?  How do we stop creating it?  Can you stop creating it in a modern society?  We talked about dharma too.  It’s cool to think about the possibility of the universe conspiring for our greater path in this world.

Emily said that this module is meant to tear us apart and the third module will put the pieces together.  At the moment, I am uncertain of course- whether or not I will really be prepared to sit in front of a class, hold the space and direct the students for a full hour.  Teaching kids is so different—there’s automatic respect and adoration.   I elicit from them and encourage them to talk and contribute.  I ask for their ideas and try to have the class centered around them.  My lessons are built around empowering them and encouraging them to do things on their own.  In this last respect, teaching yoga will be the same but the idea of me talking and commanding for a full hour is new.  Hopefully my adult yoga students will be curious and enthusiastic, rather than critical.

Next will be the third and final post about teacher training.

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