My first experience with the Anusara Invocation mantra was a bit of a surprise, actually…
I’m referring to the Opening Invocation used by Anusara yogis all over the world. It’s a beautiful song that brings you into the energy of light and truth, and it has become my companion over the years.
But the first time I heard it I had no idea it was coming.
I’d just started teaching yoga at the request of my yoga teacher, who was moving away and asked me to take over her classes. I guess I’d been teaching for 6 months or so when I went to my first Anusara® yoga gathering.
A friend from Chicago had told me how Anusara yoga changed her life. I was so intrigued I drove 5 hours to Seattle to take a workshop with John Friend. I don’t know how many people actually have the founder of a style of yoga as their first teacher in that style, but I have to say it was pretty mind blowing.
When I walked into the workshop I was a bit taken aback at how close the mats were. Think 4 inches or less between each one. My personal space sensors were a bit anxious at first, but by the end of the morning’s session my heart was so wide open I wanted to hold hands with the people next to me.
Anyway, at the start of the class John had us all come up to gather around him as he set the tone of the class. I remember I had my mat at the front of the room but I was toward the back of that little gathering at the beginning.
Then, after centering in, we took our hands together in front of our hearts. We sang three Om’s, which was fine by me, but then everyone started singing what to me at that time was a long chant in Sanskrit.
I had no idea what was going on, all I knew is that it was beautiful. I just sat there, hands folded together in front of my heart, fingers like rays of light shining out, listening to this magnificent song.
I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew what it felt like. It made me feel at home, like I was safe, like there was a goodness that everyone around me was there to share and participate in.
I may have been slightly bewildered by that first invocation, but by the end of the workshop I knew I’d found my teacher and the school of yoga I wanted to study and bring back to my own students.
One of the things I love about the Anusara Invocation is that it pretty much sums up the philosophy all in one go.
When you sing it at the beginning of each class, you feel a shift internally. There is a feeling of being connected to a bigger energy, to the people around you, and to the moment itself. Personally, it instantly brings me into a more peaceful, focused place, no matter where or when I sing it (sometimes just in my head in the strangest places).
Below is the Sanskrit chant, and one variation of the translation. What I like to tell students in my class who haven’t encountered this song before, is to let it be something that connects with what you already believe in your own heart. If something in the English translation doesn’t quite jive with you, change the wording so it feels right.
Anusara Yoga Opening Invocation
Namah Shivaya Gurave
I offer myself to the Light, the Auspicious One,
Who is the True Teacher within and without,
Who assumes the forms of Reality, Consciousness and Bliss,
Who is never absent and is full of peace,
Independent in existence, the vital essence of illumination.
- Even just reading it, how do you feel? These letters, words, and phrases carry power. Read it again, even if you don’t understand the Sanskrit at all – just read through the Sanskrit part, and notice if there is a slight shift in your own vibration.
For an in-depth look into the meaning of this mantra, check out this Exploration of the Anusara Yoga Invocation
- If you have experience with this chant and would like to share, please comment below!