A Tip for the Yogis

27 Nov
Little Kitteh says “Namewste.”

For the yoga teachers who read my blog, let me offer you a tip: Keep the chanting simple.

We usually open and close class with a single group “OM.” I’ll admit, the first time I attended a yoga class, it freaked me out. For a minute I thought I’d accidentally joined a cult and they were going to shave my hair off while my eyes were closed.

But then I started to dig it. There’s something pretty powerful about people united in purpose, joining their voices together. It’s a good reminder of the interconnectedness of all life.

So now I’m cool with an OM, or even three OMs if we have an enthusiastic instructor, though sometimes I can’t stop my mind from focusing on the one clearly tone deaf person who seems to be willfully trying to create discord. (<–BTW, just me or does it seem like that word should be spelled “dischord?”)

However, one thing I am decidedly NOT cool with are the instructors who try to get all creative and work in full chants. I’ll use what is perhaps the simplest of chants to explain why chants – in general – are a bad idea.

Let’s take, “Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.” It’s an invocation of peace, which is nice in theory. And the words are simple and easy to remember. The thing that makes it a mess is that the first two “shantis” go down tonally (like “Mary” in “Mary Had a Little Lamb) but the third “shanti” goes up.

While that seems pretty simple, inevitably there will be a new person in class who doesn’t know that. They try to play along and go with the crowd. They are timid on the first “Shanti” but then more confident on the second one since it’s a repetition of the first. But then, just when they’ve worked themselves up to full participation and go to belt out that third “Shanti,” the rest of the class throws a curve ball.

Now do you understand why it's called Porky Piggin?

It’s like we all told the person it was “No Pants Friday” but then when he shows up Porky Piggin, the rest of us are fully clothed.

This exact thing happened today, and the poor dude who got orphaned on the third “Shanti” scrambled to try to get his pitch to match the rest of the class. The result was that he sounded like Peter Brady when his voice was changing. And it struck me as ridiculously funny. So I started laughing. To the point where I had tears coming out my eyes.

When we opened our eyes and bowed to say “Namaste” (meaning “the light in me bows to the light in you”), I remained face-down on my mat, shaking with laughter. Someone else from class is probably home right now, writing her own blog entry about the crazy girl that was so moved by her practice, she wept.

I guess it depends how you define “moved.”

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6 Responses to “A Tip for the Yogis”

  1. Sara no "H" November 27, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    I love the picture of the cat. So cute and I love when men’s voices squeak. It cracks me up everytime!

  2. thesinglecell November 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Poor fella. He couldn’t have just owned it and made harmony? Spontaneous harmony…how beautiful a concept is that? Except I guess you’re no longer “one” with something; you’re two with it. I would have been face-down laughing on the mat, too. Or crying because I’d pulled something from sitting still. One of those.

  3. Lorna's Voice November 29, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    You never know what’s going to happen in life or in Yoga class. Good lesson… 😉

  4. Russ Nickel November 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    I’m still not entirely convinced that Yoga isn’t a cult. The one time I went the heat was turned up to a hundred degrees, I think in an attempt to break my will and make me more impressionable.

    • pithypants December 1, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

      You weren’t supposed to figure that out.

  5. Angela@chasingnow.com December 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    This is like group meditation I tried a few times (yes, really–it was a long time ago). Someone’s stomach started growling and got louder and louder. It was fifth grade all over again. I had to leave the room after a few dirty looks from the growler.

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