Online Yoga School

Ashtanga Yoga Opening Prayer

First time I read this prayer, I cried & laughed all at once. I wasn't in a yoga class, but simply sitting by the altar at home and reading both the Sanskrit and english transliteration aloud made for a energetically moving experience… Namaste!

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Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde
Sandarsita Svatma Sukhava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohasantyai
Abahu Purusakaram
Sankhacakrasi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
Pranamami Patanjalim

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I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus,
The awakening happiness of one’s own Self revealed,
Beyond better, acting like the jungle physician,
Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara.
Taking the form of a man to the shoulders,
Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword,
One thousand heads, white,
To Patanjali, I salute.

Sanskrit will always have multiple translations in English. Above is one of the most common translations as seen around yoga studios and the Ashtanga Yoga School Institute.

Vande                           I worship
Gurunam                     the supreme Guru
         I bow to the lotus feet
Sandarshita                at vision revealing
Svatma                         true Self
Sukava                         happiness
Bodhe                          knowledge
Nih Sreyase                beyond better (without comparison)
Jangalikayamane       jungle doctor
Samsara                      conditioned existence
Halahala                      poison
Mohashantyai            peaceful resolution
Abahu                          all bodily limbs
           having the form of a man
Shankhacakrsi           conch shell, wheel of light
Dharinam                   sword of discrimination
Sahasra                       1000
Sirasam                       headed
Svetam                        brilliantly white
Pranamami                I bow down
                  to Patanjali