Experiencing the Yoga Sūtra through Chanting

Experiencing the Yoga Sūtra through Chanting

Over two years ago I offered a short post around Making a start in learning to Chant the Yoga Sūtra, an extract from which is quoted below:

“Mostly we come across the teachings of the Yoga Sūtra through a group class situation or by coming across a book. This is fine as a starting point, however longer term the Yoga Sūtra needs to permeate from the inside rather than just be read and thought about from the outside.

A good starting point for initiating this psychic process is to learn how to chant as a process in itself and then how to chant the Yoga Sūtra specifically. As well as offering a deepening of contact with those special Bhāvana that arise from Chanting, this can also be extremely helpful for the memory processes involved.

These two steps in the embracing of Chant as a practice ideally require a teacher, especially to hear how we repeat what we think we hear and offer a vinyāsa krama for cultivating a personal skill-base.”

Following on from this post, this past week has seen me working within a 121 personal Yoga study retreat intensive with a student. Their primary focus for our time together this time was to refine their understanding of the Yoga Sūtra through embracing the chanting of the entire text as a Sādhana.

This intention had also brought them to a conclusion that this deepening of their learning of the Yoga Sūtra involved fully embracing its chanting as a personal practice. Firstly by revisiting their previous experiences chanting Chapters One and Two and then engaging for the very first time chanting Chapters Three and Four.

I couldn’t agree more with this conclusion and this is also verified when you look at the learning processes within long term direct students of Krishnamacharya, such as TKV Desikachar, S Ramaswami or AG Mohan. They all studied both Yoga practice and Yoga texts with him in depth and one essential aspect of their study was learning to chant all four chapters of the Yoga Sūtra, along with the opening and closing invocations.

It has been very touching for me, especially given my teachers current situation, to be again reminded of my own years in Chennai struggling to learn to chant the Yoga Sūtra with Desikachar within my personal lessons and decades later to be engaged within a similar environmental setting and intensity working with students.

“A text like the Yoga Sūtra is something so very special, it becomes a life-companion.
It is so deep, if taken seriously, but it can also be very shallow
if the depth of the study is not there and if there is no application.”
– TKV Desikachar

Working with a student for three or four hours of intensive lessons each day is a unique and traditional context for a direct experience of what transmitting this learning really involves. I thank and am grateful to them for their TapasSvādhyāya and Īśvara Praṇidhāna in wanting to commit to learn through this process.

Also, as ever, my deep gratitude to my teacher for what he led me into both as a student and as a teacher and the deep appreciation that for Yoga to really become a transmission a personal learning environment is a vital component. Furthermore that to facilitate this environment both the external and internal aspects must be embraced.

For interested students a PDF of the entire text of the Yoga Sūtra along with opening and closing invocations can be viewed or downloaded here.

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