Ayurvedic Yoga Poses
ENGAGING IN SANKIRTAN YOGA
The most vital aspect of the nine divisions of bhakti-yoga practice, are the first three known as. “Sravanam-kirtanam-vishnu-smaranam – Hearing, chanting, and remembering God.” By performing nama-kirtan, all these three vital aspects are accomplished at one time. Sravanam or hearing means to hear from the Vedic literatures about God and in nama-kirtan, one hears the holy name of God. Kirtanam or chanting, means chanting the mantras of the Vedas that give information about God, in nama-kirtan one directly chants the holy name of God. Vishnu-smaranam means that after hearing and chanting the Vedas, one automatically begins to remember God. In nama-kirtan, due to chanting and hearing the holy names, one automatically begins to remember God. Consequently, by performing nama-kirtan, the essence of all yoga practice is accomplished at one time, in a very simple, easy, and joyous manner.
That is the special feature of sankirtan-yajna, it is all inclusive and one need only engage himself in the process on a daily basis to achieve the same results obtained in any other yoga practice. In the age of Kali-yuga, nama-kirtan, simply by itself, is sufficient to raise the sincere yogi directly to the platform of self-realization and achieve the transcendental plane of pure Krishna consciousness. The Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu says. “No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of Shri Krishna through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him” (Brs.1.2.234)
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Rather than perform the difficult asanas or sitting postures of ashtanga-yoga, attempting to regulate the breathing and raise the life-air upwards through the chakras of the spinal column, by Hari-nama-kirtan one engages the body, the mind, and the senses, all at one time as one chants and dance’s in great happiness to the rhythm of the drums, which has exactly the same effect of raising the life air through the chakras, but in a very sublime and completely ecstatic fashion. As one begins to experience the waves of transcendental ecstasy flowing from the performance of nama-kirtan, the chakras automatically respond concomitantly, to the degree of bliss generated from the heart of the sankirtan performer. In fact, by engaging in the sankirtan yoga process, even a first-timer can experience ecstatic feelings that can take many years to achieve by the process of ashtanga-yoga.
Another special feature of the sankirtan process, is that the more people are chanting nama-kirtan, the greater the effect of ecstatic bliss, as one is swept away by the tumultuous sound of God’s holy name reverberated by a large congregation. Anyone who hears or chants the holy name can immediately experience ecstatic transformations such as ones hairs standing on end, quivering in the body, and the shedding of tears. These aspects of ecstatic bliss derived from nama-sankirtan are the equivalent of ecstatic trance in the ashtanga process.
The ashtanga process of asana, pranayama, and dhyana, or sitting, breathing, and meditating, are automatically accomplished by the performance of Hari-nama sankirtan. An even greater level of ecstatic bliss can be achieved by performing sankirtan in public places, where the ordinary citizens are present, because the powerful effect of nama-kirtan, will also act as a purifying agent upon them, without their even knowing about it. This form of congregational chanting of the holy names is the foremost means of spreading love of God to the masses. The term sankirtan refers specifically to public chanting of the holy name. This process started five hundred years ago by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is presently the most potent tool utilized by Lord Chaitanya’s followers, the devotees of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya, for converting ordinary men, women, and children into full-fledged yogis and practitioners of the bhakti school of devotional yoga, simply because everyone can experience for himself the effects of chanting Hare Krishna in the sankirtan-yajna.
There are two other processes in bhakti-yoga concerned with hearing and chanting the holy name, nama-bhajana and nama-japa. Nama-bhajan is performed while seated, on the floor or on cushions, and chanting the maha-mantra and other devotional songs, accompanied with a drum, cymbals, or harmonium. Nama-japa is the chanting of the maha-mantra on beads or a rosary. This chanting of the holy name is undertaken as part of one’s daily yoga-sadhana, beginning from the time of waking and lasts for at least two hours. Hari-nama-japa is meant for one’s own internal purification and is the primary form of meditation in bhakti-yoga. Nama-japa is chanted in a low voice so that only the chanter can hear the sound vibration and is the equivalent of dhyana or contemplation that is practiced in the ashtanga-yoga system. While chanting one should concentrate on the sound vibration of each syllable of the holy name. Sitting in one place for the japa meditation period is the best means of remaining focused on the sound vibration. To help concentration, one may also sit looking at at the Archa-vigraha Deity situated in the temple, or a photo of the Archa-vigraha Deity. One can also focus one’s mind on Paramatma, Lord Vishnu situated within ones heart.