Opening Mantra 1 : Asatomaa
This is the first part of the opening mantra we recite before our practice. After you are familiar with the words, let’s recite wholeheartedly with sincerity.
The mantra is part of the pavamana prayer, which is the closing chant of chapter 3 in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, part 1:
असतो मा सद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर् मा अमृतं गमय
ॐ शांति शांति शांति
Asato maa sadgamaya
Tamaso maa jyotirgamaya
Mrityor maa amritamgamaya
Ōm shanti shanti shanti
Lead Us From the Unreal To the Real,
Lead Us From Darkness To Light,
Lead Us From Death To Immortality,
OM Let There Be Peace Peace Peace
– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28.
When the mantra (verse) says: “Lead me from the unreal to the real,” “the unreal” means death and the “real,” immortality; so it says, “From death lead me to immortality,” that is to say, “Make me immortal.” When it says: “From darkness lead me to light,” “darkness” means death and “light,” immortality; so it says: “From death lead me to immortality,” that is to say, “Make me immortal.” In the verse: “From death lead me to immortality,” there is nothing that is hidden.
In a nutshell, the whole meaning of this invocation is to unreveal the ultimate truth, and remove the maya (illusion) which is blinding us.
Last Thursday, i came in contact with a person who has been doing Yoga for 10 years. She was under the guidance of a “so called” yoga teacher cum engineer. He conducts classes for about 60 to 100 people at any one time, free of charge.
She has been suffering from back ache for the last 5 years. Each time she practices yoga and the day after, she feels pain. I noticed that her lips have also started turning dark (not from smoking or drinking). If you have been practicing for such a length of time, you should not feel any pain at all.
Closely examining her postures, i realised that her alignments of postures have not been corrected and the teacher have not noticed this. Sadly, without corrections and proper alignments, her back ache has been aggravated. Now, her nerves are also giving her problems and leading to excruciating pain.
Please take note of instances of such and correct your students’ postures as soon as you come in contact with them.
Bhastrika means bellows breath.
In this type of Pranayama the lungs expand and collapse like bellows of the blacksmith.
This pranayama consists of quick inhalation and exhalation and produces a lot of heat within the body. It can be performed with slow, medium or fast pace as per your capacity. However, people who suffer from high blood pressure, hypertension, pregnant women, cancer, diabetes, lung problems are not advised to proceed with the practice. Women go through their monthly menstrual periods are also not advise to practice.
The technique to perform this pranayama is as follows:
- Sit in any meditative position with spine and head erect
- Inhale quickly so as to expand your chest i.e. lungs are filled with air
- Without retaining the breath quickly exhale the breath
- Again inhale the breath and exhale as before
Perform such quick rounds of inhalation and exhalation slowly and steadily without putting too much pressure or force. Practice 10 rounds of 10 quick inhalations and exhalations which total to 100.
Practicing this pranayama leads to glowing health and skin, clears sore throat, increases lung capacity, clears doubts and mental pain, helps in depression and so on.
Note: This pranayama should be practiced with proper guidance from a well qualified yoga teacher. The author is not responsible for any injuries whatsoever that may arise from following the steps given above without proper guidance from the author.
I just came back from Mysore, India where I’ve stayed there for a month. It is a small ‘city’, well, it’s not like a urban city with tall and glassy buildings you would have imagine if you have not gone to India.
The thing that struck me is that in urban cities, where we are trying to save the environment by reduce, reuse and recycle, but ironically, we are contributing to a lot of trashes consciously and subconsciously. We use disposable wooden chopsticks, plastic spoons and forks, styrofoam boxes for takeaways, plastic boxes for soups, etc. Talk about reducing waste. In India, just the banana leaf is disposed off, which is organic and bio-degradable. No cutlery required as we use hands to eat.
The climate in Mysore is wonderful (in Dec). It is slightly cold in the early mornings and late evenings, but during the day, it is dry and not too hot. The quality of air is quite good at places with green trees. Although in places like the bus stand, Deveraja market area is quite polluted.
Mysore could be much better off if there is a device which can convert or reduce the smelly fumes emited by the rickshaws (like tuk-tuks in Thailand).
Without the air pollution by the traffic, I thought there is a higher oxygen content there. 2 examples to proof my point:
1) The matchstick stays lighted for a longer time
2) I feel much more energetic and lighter practicing the Ashtanga Vinyasa Primary series there compared to in Singapore.
Or have I put on weight after eating too much of high carbohydrates Indian food?
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