Do you remember coming back to school after Spring Break and dreading that question? Most of my friends had tales to tell about beaches and parties, and they had the tan skin to go along with it. I always came back sporting my pasty white skin, obvious to all that I had not made it outside the great state of Ohio.
Well, this year there were still no beaches or partying. Instead, I took a little trip out to sunny Arizona to catch a few baseball games, do some mountain climbing, and have a few cool yoga experiences along the way! Oh, I forgot to mention that I took my 78-year old mother along for the fun too.
In March, Phoenix is home to the Cactus League for Major League Baseball spring training, and since my mother just so happens to be a huge Cleveland Indians fan, we ventured out to Goodyear, Arizona to check out a few of the Tribe games. Needing to balance out all that baseball with my daily yoga fix, I made sure to check out the yoga scene in the area so I could hit a few classes.
While in town, I could not miss the chance to meet up in person with Sanskrit teacher extraordinaire Cheryl Hall. If you are not familiar with Cheryl, she offers Sanskrit lessons via Skype* and also teaches yoga and Vedic chant. I had the opportunity to take one of her Skype classes a while ago, and it has helped me tremendously with my pronunciations of the Sanskrit names for yoga poses. Cheryl offers a two-hour Vedic chant class on Sunday morning, and I thought this would be the perfect way to do a little yogic bonding with my Mom.
We headed to Dave’s Ashtanga Yoga in Scottsdale to attend the class and were greeted with huge hugs from Cheryl. I pulled up a meditation cushion, joined the group of fellow chanters, and jumped right into the lesson. Cheryl is so knowledgeable on this subject and did an excellent job of explaining the meanings behind what we were learning, how to properly enunciate the Sanskrit words, and what all the transliterations (those lines and dashes above the letters) mean. Cheryl has the voice of an angel to guide the chanting along, and it was always a little bit of a bummer when she would stop singing to check on our progress. She made up for that by telling us we sounded fantastico!
The very first chant we tackled was called Saha Navavatu, and I really loved it because it is meant to be used to bless the interaction between the teacher and the student. I’d like to share it with you.
Om saha navavatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha viryam karavavahai
Om santih santih santih
Which translates to:
Om. May It protect us both (teacher and student) together.
May It nourish us both together.
May we both work with strength together.
May our study have brilliance.
May we not be antagonistic towards one another.
Om. Peace. Peace. Peace.
We sang this verse together, and as both a yoga teacher and student, the sentiment really spoke to me. I need to practice singing this so perhaps someday I can share it with my students.
Thank you, Cheryl, for such a lovely morning full of learning, brilliance, and peace.
Stay tuned – I’ll be writing more this week and next about my cool yoga experiences in Arizona, which included climbing and hanging from the great yoga wall and aerial yoga, otherwise known as FLYoga!
*If you want more information about Cheryl’s Sanskrit lessons, please read my review of her online training sessions (done via Skype), and then contact her direct (azvedicchant at gmail.com or by phone 480-216-2602) to set up a class. Mention the Daily Downward Dog, and Cheryl will give you $5 off the 45-minute class (which is normally $35).