parallax background

Yoga Philosophy, Sanskrit and Chanting Course

February 14, 2017
Indaba Basics Course
February 18, 2017

This Thursday, Lizzie Reumont will be beginning her course on Yoga Philosophy, Sanskrit and Chanting, so we caught up with her to see exactly what she had in store for students over the four weeks...


"The main point of the course is that philosophy, sanskrit, chanting and asana are not separate, but integrative practices."


What exactly do we cover during the course?

The course breakdown is as follows:

Week 1: Yoga Sutras Chapter 1 and the sound of the main vowels and consonants, what the devenagari and transliteration look like, and putting into chant form, from OM, to Samadhi Padah of Yoga Sutras, to other mantra, perhaps invocation.

Week 2: Yoga Sutras Chapter 2 and some other well known mantras like the Gayatri Mantra. We will also begin to introduce the use of the harmonium.

Week 3: Yoga Sutras Chapter 3 and a first look at the Bhagavad Gita with harmonium

Week 4: Yoga Sutras Chapter 4, continued work with the Bhagavad Gita continued exploration of other mantras and the harmonium.

The main reason I think it would be good for anyone who is a regular practitioner of yoga is to understand that Sanskrit is about listening and intention. It is a language of vibration and even though asana works with vibration, the sound vibration of Sanskrit creates more awareness and enables us to delve into the more subtle bodies of yoga.

What exactly are the Yoga Sutras and what part have they played in the yoga we practice today?

The Yoga Sutras is a hugely important text about how to practice yoga. It is written in ’stitches’ or threads, that are short aphorisms that shine a light on how to quiet the wanderings of the mind. They are very relevant today, just as they were 2500 years ago, as they investigate the body-mind relationship. Interestingly, in today’s world of yoga we primarily focus on asana, but of the 196 sutras, only three focus on asana.

Why do we chant in yoga?

Chanting, or mantra (which means, to traverse (tra) the mind (manas) plays an important role in focusing the mind and breath, but it also sends vibrations throughout the body that is transformative and healing.

Why do you use the harmonium in chanting?

The harmonium is a very basic instrument of vibration. I use it in my chanting because I notice that it helps to yoke the sound of many into one. People feel less inhibited when there is a drone sound that they can tune to and in general it brings the energy of the room into harmony.

'The west has taken the asana aspect of yoga and turned it into gymnastics, not that there is anything wrong with that! But if one’s yoga practice is about gymnastics, you might become more flexible or have a toned bum, but you might still be miserable in your life.'
What is the importance of mantra in yoga?

As I said above, mantra means to traverse, or cross over the mind. Music, chanting, repetition of teachings or the names of god gives our ears a focus point of listening, and when we chant and say or sing the names of god, we can start to listen more and more to the inner vibration.

How can learning about philosophy, Sanskrit and chanting impact my yoga practice or teaching?

The main point of the course is that philosophy, Sanskrit, chanting and asana are not separate, but integrative practices. It’s impossible to practice yoga without, at some point, opening the doorway into the philosophical aspect of the practice, even if it is as simple as asking the question ‘Who am I? Am I the doer of this yoga pose or am I the asana itself?’ The Sanskrit is the personification of the philosophy, which is a language of vibration, and chanting focuses on fine tuning this vibration - the same vibrations that we are tuning with yoga asana but arguably on a more subtle level. One might say that without knowledge of the philosophy or a practice into tuning our instrument, it would be very difficult to teach yoga. Regarding the relationship to one’s own practice, my teacher says that the best way to assess whether you are evolving in your yoga practice is to listen to the sound of your own voice!

Modern day yoga seems to have taken a step away from these elements, why is it important for us to learn more about them?

Yoga has never taken a step away from these elements - it is a thousands year old practice that is founded on these elements. The west has taken the asana aspect of yoga and turned it into gymnastics, not that there is anything wrong with that! But if one’s yoga practice is about gymnastics, you might become more flexible or have a toned bum, but you might still be miserable in your life. The yoga practice has more to offer - afterall, the true goal of yoga is samadhi - enlightenment! So, it basically comes down to understanding what you want to gain from practicing yoga. If you are looking for enlightenment but are not already enlightened, the ancient texts and practices are there to guide the way!

How familiar with Sanskrit do you need to be in order to do the course?

Not at all. It is a basic course for anyone who is interested in yoga and chanting.

Do I need to do anything to prepare for the course?

Come with an empty mind! Sometimes the biggest challenge is not our lack of knowledge, but our fullness.

The course will be taking place every Thursday from 16th Feb - 9th March, 3.30pm - 5.30pm and is £150. If you would like to read more, or book a spot then you can do so by clicking here.

Comments are closed.