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Idol Chatter

Anyone who has tried Anusara yoga has most likely experienced the “what-the-heck-is-going-on moment”–a state of confusion and panic, which occurs when the instructor and students sing an unpronounceable Sanskrit chant in the beginning (and end) of class. (Anusara yogis refer to said chant as “the invocation.”) But thanks to a combined effort by some top dogs in the Anusara community, a recently released CD, appropriately titled “Invocation,” features the chant in its eight tracks, hoping to transform even the least adept at grasping the foreign tongue into masters of exotic poetic elocution. Well, at least you’ll learn the chant.

“Invocation” is a serious lovechild. A certified Anusara teacher, Amy Ippoliti, decided to make the CD after singing many times into her students’ tape recorders when they had a hard time remembering the chant. Her Sanskrit teacher, Manorama, is featured on the CD. Ippoliti is married to Ty Burhoe, a disciple of tabla master Ustad Zakir Hussain. Burhoe has recorded and played live shows with “celebrity” Sanskrit chanter Krishna Das, who in 1998 composed the melody for “the invocation” along with Anusara’s founder, John Friend.

Friend found that when chanting these words he felt he “was offering loving devotion to the supreme goodness” that was his essence. He believes the combination of words hold great mystical power. None of the players are Indian.

The words in the chant are the only lyrics on the CD:

Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
Saccidananda Murtaye
Nishprapancaya Shantaya
Niralambaya Tejase

This translates to:

I bow to the goodness within myself,
known as the Lord Shiva, who is the true teacher.
This essence inside takes the form of truth, consciousness and bliss.
Always present and full of peace, this essence inside is completely free, and sparkles with a divine luster.

Although the words are limited, the songs each have a meditative sound of their own. Classical instruments like cello and piano are featured on some tracks, whereas the more traditional Indian tabla, tambura, and sarangi are featured on others. Manorama’s rich, deep voice on “Shri” and “Angel’s Prayer” is a perfect match for Das’ bombastic, echo-y sound on “Invocation,” “Longing,” and “Mala.” The only track that felt odd was “Presence.” Ippoliti’s sweet, light voice is ruined by a breathy chorus of Sanskrit whispers. (Hello, sensual yoga hotline!)

The last track, “Kula” (which translates to “community of the heart”), holds special meaning for those who made it past their first Anusara class and eventually into Friend’s classroom. It features Friend himself, along with a class of his students, intoning “the invocation” as a group.

If the appeal seems insular, that’s because it is. But those who don’t get excited by listening to Anusara glitterati may wish to listen to the CD for pure relaxation. Hey, you may just learn a new chant. Then, of course, go try an Anusara class and be the first one to not be confused.

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