Reflecting on the experience of the first part of the Awakening Heart Intensive with Sianna Sherman at Yoga Union, what stands out the most for me was the class that she taught christening the new Yoga Union space. This new building that will house Yoga Union in about a year, is being transformed into a Yoga Studio/Healing Center/Cafe with a daycare and more. And it’s just two blocks down the road! It has a lot more space and can fit many more people.
The night of the event there was electricity in the air, and prana everywhere. It felt like a concert and everyone was excited to be there for such an auspicious occasion. The place was still rough and in the raw, but had been cleaned out and decorated for the night. Over 145 people showed up and the entire place was filled with yoga mats and chatter.
Sianna and a crew of yogis and yoginis chanted Ohm Gam Ganapataye Namahah while walking from the old space to the new. Todd Vogt, Annie Adamson, Chris Calarco and Sianna all spoke. They gave gratitude to each other and to the community for helping such a place come into existence and the vision of what it is to become. Sianna acted like an orchestral conductor brilliantly blending clear instruction with humor, story telling, and a bit of community building by getting people to interact in fun, safe ways. In the background were the sounds of the very talented, Christie Lenee on guitar. Balancing Christie on the other side of Sianna was Cobb Hoelzer painting live on canvas in front of the class. The place pulsed with shakti energy and there were shouts, hoops and hollers after each “challenging” asana. At the end of class everyone gathered in to listen to Christie sing some really amazing songs. Then we all just laid back right where we were for a community supported savasana.
Yoga Union is a combined effort with many people coming together to contribute in many ways to make it all work. The new building’s design and construction is no different and YU is incorporating community help, input and local businesses. It’s not just one person’s vision, but community coming together to co-create something larger than what they could do on an individual basis. Sianna explains that Tantra is to “meet limited circumstances with unlimited perspective.” The power of community coming together and setting intentions is immense. Hearts connecting in a way that sees the beauty in all, the love in all, the connection we have to the larger whole. That connection is what allows us to be our individual selves and to stand in our own power as we practice together in community.
Mantra is another way that we can come together and set Sankalpa or intentions. Sianna has been really emphasizing the importance of reciting mantras. They connect the heart with the mind. Reciting mantras alone or with a group is a way to clear the mind and set sankalpas. The ancient vibrational sounds of sanskrit roll of the tongue and reverberate through the body in a way that awakens us to the present moment and the task at hand. “Ohm Gam Ganapataye Namaha” is one that I have been reciting a lot when riding on my bike around Portland the past few months since the Intensive. Ganapataye is another name for the elephant headed deity Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, who represents the energy of breakthrough, threshold, and initiation. More than guiding me around traffic when riding in town:) I feel this mantra helps clear the obstacles within myself and within my own head that get stuck in repetitive thought patterns and allows for the inner dialogue to change, quiet down, or take a break until it can think of something positive and constructive to say or do. Another mantra directed towards Ganesha is:
Ohm Vakratunda Mahakaya Surya Kuti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva Karyeshusarvada
O Lord with twisted trunk and massive appearance, whose splendor is equal to that of a billion Suns…please bless me such that I do not face any obstacles in any of my endeavors, anytime.
This mantra can be thought of as a prayer for positive change, transitioning us from what was to what is in a way that is beneficial to everyone. May the new Yoga Union building carry on and build upon what has been started at the current site. And may the community, yoga, and the world benefit from it’s existence.
Ohm Gam Ganapataye Namaha