The yogic sage Patanjali lived around 2, years ago. He is revered for his Yoga Sutras, concise aphorisms that set forth the principles of yoga. It is known he was a teacher of yogic philosophy who resided in India sometime between BC and AD. Most researchers see the earlier date as the most likely.
Invocation to the Guru
Invocation to Guru
Interested in learning more about the invocations chanted at the beginning of class? Iyengar Yoga classes typically open with chanting OM three times, followed by two invocations to show respect for our lineage. The invocation to Patanjali acknowledges the ancient sage credited with compiling the Yoga Sutras. Chanting with feeling and purpose is a powerful way to add depth to our yogic practices. The inner vibrations generated from chanting help to erode the obstacles the distract the mind and unsteady the body.
We had many new students in class this morning, and as we were practising the Iyengar style of yoga, I opened the class with the Invocation to Patanjali. Which would have been fine had I just gone ahead and chanted on my own. However, in the spirit of learning and sharing, I tried to do it Ashtanga style where the class repeats each line after the teacher says it. It went utterly pear-shaped about halfway through as I forgot the lines, and so I quietly moved on amidst a few chuckles and snickers. Both the Iyengar Invocation to Patanjali and the Ashtanga Opening Invocation pay homage to the Sage Patanjali, who codified yoga in the Yoga Sutras, the definitive text on yoga theory and practice, thereby giving us all the gift of yoga. So, once again, in the spirit of learning and sharing, here are the Ashtanga and Iyengar invocations along with a translation of each. To the noblest of sages, Patanjali, who gave us yoga for serenity of mind, grammar for purity of speech and medicine for the perfection of the body, I salute. I salute before Patanjali whose upper body has a human form, whose arms hold a conch, and disc and a sword, who is crowned by a thousand headed cobra. Om I bow to the lotus feet of the great teachers, who uncovers our true self and awakens happiness, Like a Shaman in the Jungle, he brings total complete wellbeing.
According to Indian mythology, Patanjali was the incarnation of lord Adisesa. Legend says he fell into the praying hands of Ganukia who had no children. One day she was praying to the Sun God while a little snake in the water in the palms of her hands turned into a human shape. Patanjali is the author of three important commentaries; the Mahabhasya, on grammar for right speech, Ayurveda, medicine for health, and The Yoga Sutras — showing how through Yoga practice we can gain control on our mind and emotions, overcome obstacles and attain union with the divine. The conch and the disk are symbols for alarm and destruction in the case of a danger such as evil thoughts or disease.