This is a wonderful chat with Sudhanshu Sharma, my Indian Music teacher in Delhi. Please get comfy, have your chai ready & listen to Sudhanshu chat about his life long passion & devotion, work & offerings of Indian Classical Music & Mantra.
Mantra..... Tool for the Mind and heart?
What is Mantra?
MAN = The Mind TRA = Tool for
Mantra is a tool for the mind, literally translated. I would also add a tool for the mind and heart.
My first experience with Mantra was during my first Teacher Training in London where we repeated many times the traditional Vedic chanting of the Mantra 'om trayambakam yajamahe', a travel mantra or mantra to keep you safe. I remember feeling quite overwhelmed as I couldn't pronounce the Sanskrit correctly however the feeling I got afterwards was like nothing I had experienced.
Once I got out of my head, worrying about what was right or wrong, what I was chanting to or about, my mind seemed to relax and be with the sounds. Later in the training, I accidentally went to my Teachers workshop which was half Chanting, half Asana (physical postures).
At first I freaked out a little, "I didn't come to chant! I came to do Asana. I don't have a good voice, I don't ever sing as I can never remember words of songs. Arr what have I got myself into!"
So I had a complete revelation when I began to chant during the first session, it seemed immediately to take me in the place of my heart, it was almost like something was lighting up inside, waking me up. An intensity I'm not sure I had ever felt, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. Most of all I felt expanded and full of love and deeply humbled.
What space, place, time was I in? None of it mattered, all the drama, the thoughts, the desires, likes and dislikes disappeared for this period in time I was transported into a deep silent heart space of self. I am deeply grateful to Niki Slade, the teacher who shared her heart and voice, leading me to find my inner voice.
From that day I began a journey into my voice path looking for Mantra circles or kirtan events where ever I was going.
During the early days with Nikki Slade, she once said to me "One day you will lead Kirtan", I said I could never imagine it! However 12 years on and now slowly slowly this seed is manifesting. My love for mantra has opened such a wonderful heartfelt world of Bhakti, beautiful people and a wonderful way to transform consciousness.
As Sally Kempton has stated "When you receive a mantra from a teacher and practice with it over time, you find out how profoundly these sacred sound can shift the energy of your mind, your emotional body, and even your physical body".
If you are not ready to practice with a Mantra yet and you are scared of sharing your voice like I was. Start with the toning sounds for the voice, these will help to begin opening the voice, throat chakra and create new neural pathways to the brain, as well as bringing you to the present moment, allowing you to just be and to find relaxation. Don't be harsh on yourself or your individual sound that comes out. If you do this practice regularly your voice will change.
Let me know how it goes for you. Most of all enjoy.
What does it mean to do a Level 3 yoga class?
This is a short message describing the new class that has begun in Oct 5th 2020 at the Yoga Akademie Karlsruhe. Its a reminder that Level 3 is not all about handstands, dynamic fast moving poses and what I call fancy poses! Its also about full awareness, presence, being with the breath, longer holds, longer meditation and breath work.
Those that joined the first class enjoyed a deeply grounding class which included creative slow flow with longer holds and beginning with Svasana and ending with head stand and shoulder stand, Svasana and Meditation. My aim for the class is that everyone goes in knowing how to begin, that is they begin lying down, doing a practice coined by Tias Little as "Empy before you begin". Then each class will always have the option of an inversion and your choice of finishing pose, then full rest and complete with Meditation.
Post Retreat Blues
Here are some photos from the wonderful Rheinighof, Germany. 16 beautiful souls joined me for a weekend "Coming Home" retreat. Right up until the day before the retreat began the weather was pretty warm and sunny. Then on the day of the retreat the weather turned, the heavens opened and Herbst or Autumn was upon us for our arrival at this sanctuary just one and half hours from Karlsruhe. The temperature dropped 10 degrees or more in one day and so I was afraid that for a camping weekend it would be too cold! However with real fires in the yoga room fires in the tipi and lots of lush organic hot food, the cold did not get the better of ..
Autumn Equinox @ 15.30
@ 15.30 T.O.D.A.Y
It seems too fast for summer to have come to an end and already for Autumn Equinox to be here but today is that day!
"A moment of cosmic equanimity" - Gaia.com
The day to celebrate the almost equal day and night. A time to reflect on all that has happened in 2020 so far. With that comes a process of slowing down and drawing inwards.
It is a time where you can turn into the RHYTHM of the Earth, the natural change in light, the surrendering of the plants and nature letting go of its leaves and following natural cycle of life and death.
So today I choose to begin the journey of letting go, letting go the sadness that summer is ending, letting go of holding onto the light and I choose to bring my attention once again to that light that shines inside.
I choose to reignite my practices that always help look a little deeper at my patterns of behaviour, thinking and I choose to keep the Light over the dark in my heart. Like the earth, I will use this time to regenerate, conscious eating, breathing and being with more attention and focus.
I look forward to Autumn, thinking of the warming foods, woolly jumpers, forest walks, mantra evenings and grounding practices.
Whats your favourite practices, foods and things to stay healthy and well?
Have you been able to find your own Rhythm?
Do you feel in balance or looking forward to slowing down, checking in and finding your place of homeostasis?
Yoga, breath work, mantra, meditation, self care routines and rituals will all help you come back home to your self, to feel more peace and become more grounded and rooted no matter if the world is going wild around you.
Take time for yourself in your day, maybe just to breath for a few minutes, or be still. 99% of the time you will always feel better.
Have a great start to Autumn.
All my love Helen x
Heres a great mantra to chant for this time of year.
Om Asato Ma Sat Gamaya - From Ignorance lead me from Truth
Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya - From darkness lead me to light
Mrityor Maamritam Gamaya - From death lead me to immortality
Here is a 60 minute yoga practice designed to arrange and charge you for your day ahead, with lifted heal variations in high lunges and some gentle heart openers and backbends. This is a practice to take you back to the summer feeling.
2020 Summer time certainly has been a different and slightly strange summer. With many people deciding not to travel or travel locally and then others wanting to travel further a field only to experience long traffic delays or flights diverted or cancelled at short notice.
For me our holiday time was spontaneous and very unplanned. Any planning that was done before hand had to be cancelled last minute due the German authorities putting various countries and locations on their High risk COVID 19 list. Like all holidays we had our highs and lows! For me spending hours a day in a car made me realise how much I needed a moment to practice yoga, this didn't happen until day 4 or 5 and then I could fully appreciate why my practice always draws me back, like an old friend coming to share their positive vibes.
We had sunshine, rain, electric storms, sunshine again and in-between we experienced our car being broken into and our clothes and things stolen. We got fined as we forgot to buy a pass to drive through Slovenia and we got charged for a cool off the grid hut that we couldn't get to due to the restrictions.
To balance all of this however we were by the sea and I grew to remember the simplicity of hearing the birds sing, the calming sounds of the waves gently lapping in and out until you fall asleep on the beach, watching Jahni (our 3 year Old) wanting to constantly go in and out of the water and her swimming unaided each day gathering confidence to swim a little further and go under the water a little more. Picking fresh figs and grapes from the trees and vines and generally relaxing.
It took quite some time, for my mind to forget the daily details of home life, all the things needing to be done and then at one point my mind relaxed and stopped comparing to other places, such Greece (my favourite) and enjoyed being exactly where we were, Istria, Croatia. Then the days felt long, the sun warming my soul, heart and whole being, whilst the sea refreshing me and drawing me back in again and again and again.
Of course once we are home, my mind could wander straight to the fact that I would have liked to have seen more sunsets, or feeling annoyed about our things being stolen or extra expenses for nothing. However I am making a promise to myself to remember the sea, diving in and out, Janhi‘s joy at her new mermaid, the relaxed vibe of Istria and most of all spending time appreciating the simple things, like throwing pebbles into the sea, a never ending game!
How was your summer time? Did your holiday go as planned or did you have unexpected adventures? How are you talking to yourself these days as the summer draws to an end? Whats your positive take aways from the summer time and do you still feel like you deserve a rest?
If yes, and you are looking for an end of summer weekend retreat to regain that sense of simplicity or maybe give back time to yourself as you didn't manage to get away. Join myself and a lovely group at Reinighof , Germany.