BHAKTI SKOOL DAY ONE: Gayatri
Two weeks ago, I had my last thesis meeting with my advisor. She is a professor of English and Caribbean literatures. She also grew up in a Hindu household. At the end of our meeting on the Cuban Literacy Campaigns, she summoned me over to her desk. “Shira,” she asked in her rather dramatic voice, “are you familiar with the Gayatri Mantra?”
"We learned it in my yoga teacher training," I responded. That was in 2011 and aside from when Deva Premal comes up when I put my iTunes on shuffle, I haven’t thought about it much since.
So this whole incidence with my thesis advisor from two weeks ago felt like divinely inspired coincidence today when we opened up our Bhakti Skool 5-day intensive 50-hour training at Laughing Lotus by chanting and learning the Gayatri, the mantra for new beginnings.
In the ten or so hours since then, I have chanted my mouth off. And this coming from a girl who considers herself severely tone-deaf.
This training is a lot different from the two other trainings I did with Laughing Lotus in January and I am reminded of how different trainings attract different kinds of people and yet there are so many of us who want to learn it all: the inversions, the Bhakti, the Ayurveda, what exists on the mat and what exists far beyond it.
Today, we studied (and drew) Ganesh, the elephant God (pictured above) who represents the root of everything, a great pairing with the Gayatri - a welcoming of new beginnings. And through it all we were encouraged to reflect on our introductions to the spiritual components of this abundant practice. Below is what I journaled about during a “stop and jot,” scheduled breaks in the vinyasas of a rather rigorous class.
The first time I heard a harmonium was years ago at Pure Yoga when Alanna Kaivalya played it in class. I felt a joy well up inside of me from the inside and it was almost like that joy didn’t even make its way outside; it was just for me.
Om bhur bhuvaheswaha
Tat savitur vareneneyam