The Gayatri Mantra, dedicated to the Goddess Gayatri, Mother of Vedas, is one of the most important chants in Hinduism. This mantra expresses the essence of the Vedas. It contains only fourteen syllables, but its compact, complex eloquence is difficult to express in languages other than Sanskrit. It means:
May the Brilliant Glory
Of the Supreme God
Enlighten Our Minds
Enlighten Our Thoughts
Enlighten Our Meditation
(Rig Veda III.62.10)
Read more about the Gayatri Mantra in On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar.
Yoga is an ancient discipline. It is far more than mind and body exercise. It is a way to perfect yourself. Yoga teaches us to achieve release from all unhappiness and thereby to obtain ultimate joy. The beauty of Yoga is that its practice helps us become calmer, happier and more balanced.
Yogis are persons who progress on one of the three main pathways to liberation. Hinduism calls them Bhakti Yoga, the path of actively loving worship, Jnana Yoga, the path of learning and Karma Yoga, the path of good action.
The following yoga poses should be done in a warm room, and it helps to have a place where you know you won’t be interrupted. Focus on your breathing throughout each pose. It often helps to visualize breathing in the blue sky and breathing out the gray, helping rid your body of stress.
Points to remember:
- Move slowly in and out of the yoga poses
- Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice.
- Never strain or force yourself beyond your current abilities.
This simple breathing exercise brings your attention to the present moment, as well as calms your mind.
- Sit down in a comfortable position on the floor, in a chair, or on a bed, placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your rib cage.
- Close your eyes as you take deep breaths and focus on the movements of your body as you breath in and out. Feel the lift of your belly and the expansion of your ribs on your inhalations. Notice the slight compression of your ribs and the drop of your belly as you exhale.
- Release your arms and focus your mind on your breath for 5-10 minutes, inhaling and exhaling fully.
Corpse Pose, also called, Savasana, is one of the most relaxing poses in yoga.
- Lie flat on your back with your feet hip-width apart and your arms slightly away from your sides, so air can circulate around your body.
- Roll your shoulders down and back as you lengthen your neck.
- Take a mental note of areas in your body that are holding tension as you take deep breaths and focus on relaxing your muscles.
Child’s pose is a kneeling pose that is done in many different types of classes to cool down and relax.
- Kneel on your mat with the tops of your feet flat on the floor.
- Sit back on your heels, and slowly lean forward resting your chest on your legs and your forehead on the floor.
- You can place your arms on the floor by your sides so your palms are facing up., or extend the arms overhead for an added upper back stretch. If Child’s Pose is difficult for you, place a pillow on your thighs to support your upper body.
Standing Forward Bend
The standing forward bend uses the force of gravity to gently stretch your back, legs and shoulders.
- Stand with your feet together and your hands by your sides.
- Bend your knees slightly and distribute your weight evenly between your feet.
- Pull your abdominal muscles in as you bend forward at your hips and waist. Allow gravity to pull your upper body and arms toward the floor.
- Taking deep breaths, hold this position for 30 seconds to two minutes.
- Return to standing by bending your knees, and placing your hands above your knees to support your lower back as you stand up.