Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Anusara Invocation, and working the legs

We chant this wonderful mantra at the beginning of every Anusara class, but do you know what it means? I absolutely love this mantra. I love the way it vibrates through my body and the way it sounds. I love the way I feel during and after I chant the mantra. I love the energy it invokes.
When I first started practicing Anusara and learning the mantra, I just chanted because everyone else did and it made me feel good. As I got deeper into the practice I started learning more and more about what the mantra means. Over the past few months I have been journaling about this wonderful mantra looking at each Sanskrit word and looking at each line. I really feel that the more I know what the words and the lines mean the better and more powerfully charged the mantra becomes. Here is a summary of what the Anusara invocation means to ME (and in my opinion):
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave: The sound of the universe (Om), I bow down, I honor and I offer myself to (Namah) to the Highest, the Auspicious one (Shivah), who is the weighty teacher leading us from the dark to the light, that resides within my own heart and outside of me (Gurava).
Satchidananda Murtaye: Who assumes the forms of Truth, Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss (Satchidananda), this is the essence (Murtaye) of this Teacher that is within our own heart and that surrounds us every where.
Nishprapanchaya Shantaya: This essence is never absent (Nishprapanchaya) and is full of peace (Shantaya).
Niralambaya Tejase: This one energy is completely free and does not depend on anything to exist (Niralambaya), and this essence is a radiant luminosity, and is sparkles from the heart (Tejase).

Here is the translation of the Anusara invocation from John Friend:
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave: I honor the essence of Being, The Auspicious Once, the luminous Teacher within and without.
Satchidananda Murtaye: Who assumes the forms of Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss.
Nishprapanchaya Shantaya: Is never absent, full of peace,
Niralambaya Tejase: Ultimately free and sparkles with a divine luster.
Our practice on the mat is an act to help us remember this. To help us remember that this higher teacher (whatever that higher teacher is to you: mother nature, science, god…) who is full of Truth, Reality, Consciousness, and Bliss. This essence pulsates with bliss (ananda) and sparkles (tejase). This one energy doesn’t need any set of circumstances to exist and is always present within us and around us.

I love when I am practicing on my mat whether I am in a public class, a workshop, or at home. When I really tune into my heart and move with grace I can feel this inner pulsation of peace. I feel alive and vital yet at ease and calm. When I am in this state, I feel like my heart is sparkling (tejase).

Lately as I have been working on this I have been working the legs. I feel like if I don’t have a good base, a good foundation I can’t begin to connect to this inner radiance. From the four corners of the feet (mound under the big toe, to the inner heal, over the top of the foot diagonally to the mound under the pinky toe, and them back to the outer heel). From this strong active foundation in the feet draw in energy up the legs toward the core of the pelvis.

In standing poses, the back leg will naturally have more outer spiral so you again balance it by applying more inner spiral. As you work the inner spiral also focus on the femur bones back. My new trick for femur bones back is by putting my back hand on my back hamstring high on the thigh and then pushing my femur bones back until I can feel pressure on my hand (I take that pressure as a sign that I am doing enough femur bones back). The front leg will naturally have more inner spiral so you want to focus on balancing that by apply more outer spiral. In other words, scope the from sit bone under like you are trying to push your front heel into the ground and forward. When you do this you should feel space being created around the front psoas muscle.

In Anusara we have a saying “root down to rise up”. I also think if you root down or have good foundation, muscular energy, inner spiral and outer spiral in the legs will allow you to experience your own inner radiance, experiencing your own inner sparkle, experience the pulsation of bliss.

I think it is important to practice on our mat so we may connect to what it feels like to pulse with peace and feel our heart sparkle. It is also important to remember that we don’t need to be on our mat to have this experience because this experience and essence is always available to us…we just need to remember. A great way to do that is through chanting the Anusara invocation and practicing asana.

The Anusara Teacher Training Manual, By John Friend
Douglas Brooks
Sanskrit Dictionary
Adam Ballenger

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