We love working with small, intimate groups and have elected, during the winter months, to work in our Visitor/Practice room at our Shibumi Yoga Centre rather than in the Shibumi Studios. Depending on the activity, it is suitable for a group of six to eight and we draw upon various aspects from our yoga practise and experience. Each day is a varied and eclectic mixture of bodywork, therapy, meditation, breathing, energy work, yoga philosophy, social dining and satsang (fellowship with truth).
Today we reserved some time to work with a marvellous new book, loaned to us by Linda, called ‘Contact Yoga‘ – The Seven Points of Connection & Relationship (by Tara Lynda Guber with Anodea Judith). It features the special link that can be made through partnerwork. Initially, because it looked very advanced, Ros thought that it might be difficult to know where to start. But we broke down four or five of the most beautifully-structured shapes and, with the help of the group, we were able to achieve all those postures. And it was great fun exploring this five-star book, which we’ll revisit on other occasions.
The sharing of food is a very important part of our day, both socially and to sustain our energy for the day. Everybody looks forward to lunch. Everything is cooked fresh and, in this instance, had a touch of the Orient.
Following up on the Head-Wrapping session we did at the last meeting of this particular Explorer’s group, we moved onto full body wrapping. This technique was first practised, refined and published in our ‘Easy Steps to Massage’ book, many years ago. We found it had the most curious effect. Somewhere between the comfort of ‘swaddling’ (now, I think, an unfashionable idea for babies) and mummification, we demonstrate and contrast the alternate restricting and liberating effects of binding and release. Up to this point we have had it reported that this is an extremely effective and, for some, powerful relaxation technique. ‘Salad’ loved it and would have enjoyed further treatment. Rebecca had a moment or two of claustrophobia but persevered. Funnily enough, on this occasion, Ros did not enjoy the weight of the blanket (although previously she had loved the sheets). We’ll have to watch this in the future as we plan further experiments with bandaging!
An important theme through our Yoga Explorers Day was the learning and mindful practice of Mantra Japa (repetition and mindfulness) of the Ganesha ‘siddhi’ (power) mantra (mind tool/releaser) that our Centre has been working with the last couple of weeks (for full details see forthcoming post: Ganesha Mantra Japa – for ‘Removing Obstacles’). We placed our representation of Shri Ganesha (Remover of Obstacles) front and centre and discussed the stories associated with this approachable energy form, the particular use of bija (seed) that make this particular mantra so powerful, and whether the group was happy to proceed. Linda said she’d been told that if you didn’t have any obstacles to remove, you’d actually attract some in. We considered that, although I did point out that I hadn’t yet met a human being who didn’t already face obstacles (although I can’t speak for my guru, Paramahansa Satyananda!) and that my friend Guru Sattvananda, president of the Sunbury Yoga Society, would applaud having so much ‘grist to the mill’ to work with.
(Note: The presence of this depiction of Shri Ganesha does not imply worship of a Hindu deity, but rather offers us an iconic representation of a particular energy form utilised by yogis and trantrics.)
Authority & Lineage
I first received initiation into this form of the powerful siddhi (power) mantra from my gurubai (spiritual brother) Swami Nischalananda Saraswati of Mandala Yoga Ashram, Wales, and by lineal extension from our guru (bringer of light) Paramahansa Satyananda. The complete version is: aum shreem hreem kleem glaum gam ganapataye vara varada sarva janamme vashamanaya swaha. The Ganesha mantra is reputed to bless the sincere practitioner with success and prosperity and, specifically, removes depression, confusion, jealousy, fear and sorrow from one’s consciousness. Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and, more generally, as Lord of Beginnings, patron of the arts and sciences, and deva of intellect and wisdom.
Guidelines for Practise
Sitting in circle, usually cross-legged with spine upright and relaxed, group practise of this mantra is greatly enhanced and established in consciousness. Eyes may be open or closed, the mantra chanted ucchahi (vocally – effective), upamshu (sub-vocally, soft recitation – more effective), manasikam (within the mind – most effective) and practised in sets of 108 repetitions, one round of japa mala (prayer beads) taking approximately 15 minutes. A number of hi-ki/shibumi students are now regularly utilising this mantra and reporting beneficial results in their daily lives (comments and posts to follow). Should you wish to join our group’s endeavour and establish yourself in a powerful personal practise, please feel free to contact us (by phone, skype, class attendance or at the Centre) for instruction.
How important is it to pronounce the Ganesha Mantra correctly?
Well, the rules are not rigid. An English speaker, not trained in the subtle pronunciations of sanskrit, might sound coarse and clumsy to a proficient speaker of an Indic language, but that needn’t be a deal-breaker for a sincere student. Although we have transliterated the mantra on the card above into an approximation of the original, the ‘eem’ sound is more correctly somewhere between an ‘m’ and an ‘ng’, sounded nasally. Regular practise with the first bija mantra, ‘aum’ is advised before undertaking more complex and powerful mantras.
Options for refining pronunciation include: listening to and imitating a recording of a competent and knowledgeable practitioner, learning at least the basic intonations of sanskrit (very useful for the aspiring yogi), taking one-to-one instruction from your guru or yoga teacher (best), or trusting that attunement to the sublime sounds will naturally come about through refined practise that reveals and releases both knowledge and a spiritual energy. If you are very new to the chanting of sanskrit, then personal transmission from an authoritative source is the best option.