This year (I think it’s my fifth time in Helsinki), we have decided to add a dedicated chanting class to our program. Chanting is one of my favorite practices. Within Ashtanga Yoga, it falls under the category of svadhyaya, and has a wide range of benefits that are emotional, psychological, and physical, all while directing our awareness inward. In this class we will be chanting the Lakshmi Ashtakam, the Eight Verses to Lakshmi, who is the Goddess of Prosperity, both material and spiritual. It is melodic and meaningful, and is a devotional practice that you can add to your daily sadhana.
Adyanta rahite Devi adyashakti Maheshvari | Yogaje yogasambhute Mahalakshmi Namostu’te
“Salutations to the great Goddess, who is without beginning or end; the primordial energy behind all creation; salutations to Devi Mahalakshmi, who is born out of Yoga, and who is always united with Yoga.”
Over the past few years in Helsinki we have spoken quite a lot about Samkhya and Yoga, specifically chapter two of the Yoga Sutras. This year we are going to dive a little into chapter three, called the Vibhuti Pada, or the chapter on accomplishments, or perfection. The Vibhuti Pada discusses the final three limbs of Ashtanga Yoga: concentration, meditation, and samadhi. One of the controversial aspects of this chapter are the many powers that Patanjali speaks about that the Yogi can attain by concentrating on particular objects. He states, towards that end of the chapter, that the powers are an obstacle to enlightenment, so the yogi should be wary of them, and this is one of the reasons why this chapter is not dwelled on at length in most of the Yogic literature.
However, while the powers may be an obstacle to enlightenment, they are not an obstacle to experiencing the world, and Patanjali indeed also says, earlier in the Sutras, that the world exists for two purposes: experience, and liberation. In these lectures we will look into the process that gives these attainments, and some of the attainments that are very useful for having a positive experience of the world we live in. For example:
“Through deep meditation on friendliness and other similar virtues, one obtains great strength (of virtues)”.
In the Vibhuti Pada, Patanjali takes us on a journey from the exploration of time, to an understanding of the present moment, and all of the phenomena that takes place in between.12