My teacher starts our Yoga sessions with an invocation prayer and ends them with a peace prayer.
The invocation prayer is “Yogena Cittasya Padena Vaacaam”
The conclusion prayer is “Om Asato maa sad gamaya”
Yogena Cittasya Padena Vaacaam |
Malam Shariirasya Ca Vaidyakena ||
Yo[a-A]paakaro[a-U]ttamam Pravaram Muniinaam |
Patan.jalim Praan.jalir-Aanato[a-A]smi ||
1: (I bow down to him who purifies the impurities) of the Mind (by removing the Chitta Vrittis) by Yoga, (who purifies the expression of) Speech by Pada (Grammar) …
2: … and (who purifies the) impurities of the Body through Vaidya (Medical Science), …
3: … He who is an expert in removing (the impurities of the Body, Mind and Speech), to that most excellent of Munis, …
4: … (Who is) Patanjali, I bow down with folded hands.
Om Asato Maa Sad-Gamaya |
Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamaya |
Mrtyor-Maa Amrtam Gamaya |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
1: Om, (O Lord) Keep me not in (the Phenomenal World of) Unreality, but make me go towards the Reality (of Eternal Self),
2: Keep me not in (the Ignorant State of) Darkness, but make me go towards the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge),
3: Keep me not in (the World of) Mortality, but make me go towards the World of Immortality (of Self-Realization),
4: Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
The invocation prayer is remembrance and gratitude to Sage Pathanjali without whom we would not have the practice of Yoga.
But it’s also more than that. It’s a great way of reminding ourselves of the chain of events and the countless sages and generous teachers since Pathanjali who have brought this great discipline to each of us.
It has been 2000 years since Pathanjali shared his wisdom with the world.
The invocation prayer helps us to marvel at the chain of gurus and seekers who have ensured that Yoga has not just survived these 2000 years, but has been adapted, simplified, and made accessible to all of us.
The prayer helps us to not take this gift of Yoga for granted.
The peace prayer at the end of the class helps us to realize that at the end of the day, the thing that matters most is that we’re at peace with ourselves.
It’s a reminder that the practice of Yoga we just completed is a “means” to an end – where the goal is to feel the silence within.
Without this prayer, it’s easier for the ego to set in, where the asana practice could become an end in itself. We may ignorantly start directing our attention to our bodies and taking pride in whatever shape or form it’s taking because of the asana practice.
But the prayer gently nudges us towards a higher goal. To help us realign ourselves to the wonderful journey of spiritual growth.
As my Yoga practice becomes more consistent, I’m starting to appreciate each element of the class better. Nothing is accidental.
Everything is carefully designed, keeping the highest goal in mind: peaceful growth for everyone.