Lip-syncing Ashtanga’s opening chant

Earlier this week, Bobbie posted about having to teach the opening chant to new Ashtanga students.

These lines, in particular, struck me:

So I learned pretty quickly that I was going to have to break line integrity (something that infuriates me no end) and say it slow, say it loud, and say it proud.

They struck me because I know the chant, but still I’m always just a little uncomfortable saying it “loud.”

Usually, it’s not an issue. Most Led classes have at least 20 students in them, and they all know the words, so to speak.

It’s a different matter when going to Bobbie’s intro classes. Instead of 20 strong voices, you might have three or four. And because I’ve got a little emotional investment in the teacher, I want to make sure she feels like the students are responding to her lead. (I’m a giver that way.)

And so I have to boom it out. “Vande gurunam …”

In all its beautiful forms, the opening mantra.

I realize there are a few good, and not so good, reasons for my feelings.

The first is just simple shyness, the same characteristic that kept me from trying out my middle school and high school Spanish at Mexican restaurants when I was a kid. “What if I don’t have it quite right? They’re going to laugh at me.”

That’s a not-s0-good reason.

A perhaps better one is that I would put myself into the group of Ashtangis who find the practice lonely (or did we settle on “solitary” as a better term). I want to thank the teachers who have come before me in a personal way and not in a way that calls attention to myself. (I want to call attention to myself and put on a show when I’ve got my pull backs going on!) It’s not a matter of erasing the ego, but it is a moment of putting the ego in the right context, as I understand it. Or am struggling to understand it.

Maybe when I feel I’ve understood where the ego should be as I stand at the top of the mat, I’ll be a bit louder in my pronunciation.

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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