Good vibrations

good vibrations.jpgYoga expands the more I practice. It throws opens new horizons to me all the time. Yet the whole yoga thing still makes me feel uncomfortable and sometimes doesn’t settle easily around who I thought I was (or who I used to be). So I find myself examining all new aspects of it to be sure I’m not just jumping on some fashionable bandwagon… or getting insidiously brainwashed.

Now I’ve gone and ordered myself some mala beads. The very notion of it makes me roll my eyes! Whatever next? An OM tattoo? But I’m not doing this to look cool or more yogic. As if! Rather, I’ve started exploring mantras recently and it’ll be interesting to see how using mala beads for tracking repetitions is helpful… or not. At the least having them as a physical object will remind me to keep open to this aspect of practice.

I finally got round to learning the gayatri mantra this week. It trips off the tongue quite readily now and feels pretty nice and natural. Next steps — to find a translation I connect with, to understand the literal meaning, to practice writing it in Devanagari. All this is great stuff and appeals to my intellectual nerd side and will be an interesting way of exploring my Sanskrit.

But this plan felt a bit disassociated from my yoga practice. A bit head, rather than heart. And so it was until class this morning.

Class was a two hour exercise in patience: to be gentle with muscles that felt sore and unyielding and to keep mental focus on moving into open shapes when my inclination at the moment is to close up. It was an interplay of resistance and surrender, of withdrawing and opening, of flowing rather than freezing. Kind of unpleasant. But kind of compelling to observe and breathe through. Whenever my body felt like closing in on itself I offered a silent OM feeling it draw my body into a longer line, a broader shape, creating openness and light where there had been dull weight.

At the time it felt like cr*p yoga, but the fact that I could observe in this way probably made it  pretty ‘good’ yoga! Whatever, by the time class was closing into śavāsana I was a a bit frayed. What were these emotions? Relief in large part (finally it’s over!), but also all the old scars threatening to come unpicked and spill their emotional guts out for everyone to see.

How to be steady amidst this turmoil, to breath into it but not be suffocated by it? My lips just found the gayatri mantra, whispering to myself over and over. And my heart stopped racing, my breathing calmed, until I was sitting with my body feeling open and tranquil. The storm passed overhead. Of course I had found the gayatri mantra because I had been looking at it this week, but its message was very apt in this moment of my practice: seeking support in finding a way out of suffering, with the suggestion of moving from intellect to inner wisdom.

Finally the music towards the end of class contained some lines from the Upanishads that I’ve also been considering recently. They also are a prayer for transformation:




asato mā sad gamaya
tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
mṛtyor mā amṛtaṁ gamaya


I’d better stick with the Sanskrit lessons then! But it’s nice to find that the intellectual pursuit of knowledge comes together naturally sometimes with what the heart and soul needs. Good vibrations indeed.


If you have a fave Gayatri translation, do please share in the comments. Thank you!

7 thoughts on “Good vibrations

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  1. Guilty of a tattoo:)
    Sometimes I do a mala of the Gayatri without the mala, using the fingers to count to 12 for a total of 9 times (one hand for the 12 count and the other for the cycles)
    Apparently, there is a fourth line to the mantra as well which is referred to in a couple of the Upanishads and Brahma Sutra.
    Swami Chinmayananda has written about the Gayatri Japa in one of his books, Kindle Life. His writings were my introduction into Vedantic thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve been contemplating mala beads for several months too, babycrow! But I have an idea that I would like to make my own… and that has slowed me down! I like the idea of prayer beads – the tactile quality of passing beads through my fingers. I have this experience with rosary beads as a Roman Catholic. I think it can be very soothing, and creates a tactile point of focus. Happy Gayatri!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Making your own would be wonderful! Make some time for it! I did the lazy/next best and commissioned them.
      Yes ‘tactile point of focus’ is what I’m looking for. Mantras are quite a new thing for me so I’m def in need of any help with focus. It’s an interesting aspect of yoga that I never expected would appeal…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My wife recently bought me mala beads for my birthday and they are great! I was using Sonia’s finger method for a long time. I chant silently in rope sirsasna as a “timer” when I get a chance at the studio. It takes me roughly 10 minutes to get through all 108. My mantras differ according to my needs and aspirations of that day. Lately I have been chanting to Narayana. The mala beads make it much easier to concentrate on the mantra because your not doing calculations in your head with the finger method. Here is a link to the finger method if you are interested…

    Liked by 3 people

  4. thank you for this link yogibattle. actually I have just got a bracelet of 27 beads so I’ll have to figure out what the technique is for flipping to repeat if I want to work my way up to a full 4 rounds. baby steps!
    what a lovely birthday gift!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For repetition; I’m assuming your beads have an extra one sticking off to the side? You start your count there, and when you work your way round to it you flip and go back the other way. Do that three times (four circuits) and you’ve got your 108. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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