Brahman and bacteria

omClass started today with the teacher asking what came before Siri. His rhetorical line was to trace back a sequence of ‘what came befores’. What was before the internet, before reference books, spoken language, sound, breathing… “What was before breathing?” I volunteered “anaerobic respiration” which got a laugh at least (I am in a very happy mood today!) but obviously wasn’t what the teacher wanted. He was aiming towards a primordial OM. Talking with a classmate afterwards she found it hilarious when I said I had wanted to say either ‘anaerobic respiration’ or ‘Brahman’ — that the two concepts represented respectively my scientific brain and my yoga brain.

Class was totally amazing for me after this curious start. After repeated OM-ing (many more than our usual three — so it felt more like a mantra, less like a ritual), the teacher encouraged us to feel the vibration of OM and to hold this feeling throughout our asana practice. The physical emphasis was on keeping an open heart and we were also invited to feel into the music as part of the practice, not just as a soundtrack, but as vibrations that contributed to, and formed part of, our practice.

I had to keep resetting in my practice to keep some semblance of focus. My physical practice felt pretty sweet (echoes of holiday if not OM) and my heart felt so full of joy it was practically bubbling out of me. I totally lost it when KD’s Sita Ram came on.  I can’t hear it without joining in. Is that good or bad yoga I wonder? I can’t help feeling that I’m supposed to let it all flow through me, not sweep me off my feet! Still, for now it’s pretty nice to be bowled over:

My logical brain rebels against all this stuff — too woo woo, too cultic, too emotional… It feels almost manipulative, a pushing of emotional buttons like supermarket lighting and fresh-bread-smells as techniques for stimulating impulse-buys. But I can’t deny the yogi brain just loves it. Whatever it is. My interpretation of Yogas citta vrtti nirodah today must be about turning off the intellectual questions. Finding a state when feelings just occur and I allow myself to respond to them or to reflect them physically. Not asking the whys or wherefores, as is my habit. When I can do that, the experience is impossible to put into words. Is that Brahman? I have no idea.

Given my jolly mood today I am ironically amused to have such existential and theological wonderings on a day when I would have been asked to be a godmother — except that I’m not baptised! Well that’s an awkward conversation I don’t need to have now. Or should I offer to bring the child up as a yogini?

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4 thoughts on “Brahman and bacteria

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  1. Bhakti yoga – the yoga of devotion. It’s apparently the quickest way to become one with AllThatIs! But – it is a hard sell for us cool logical westerners, isn’t it? But I know what you’re saying – losing oneself in a devotional chant can be quite liberating!

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  2. Sounds like an unusual and lovely practice! I found chanting quite confronting when I first started because I am shy about singing and it threw my off a bit but now I LOVE it! Kirtan and chanting and oms before asana practice put me into an incredible meditative state. I love thinking of “what came before” and it’s something I think about a lot in terms of my therapy work especially 🙂


    1. I know what you mean. Initially it does seem like singing (which I am v self conscious about) but now I worry less and let go more. Hubby thinks I’m crazy every time I come home and tell him I gave up asana some time during class in favour of just rolling with the music for a while instead… But what it all *means*, I still have no idea…


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