How To Start A Yoga Practice In Lockdown

Mantra in Meditation

I use the Gayatri mantra in my daily meditation practice. It’s also a great way to keep track of time during meditation. It takes me about five minutes to recite the mantra ten times. I use my fingers to keep track of the number of times I recite the mantra. The left hand counts individual repetitions and the right hand counts sets of ten repetitions:

om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ tatsavitur vareṇyaṃ bhargo devasya dhīmahi dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt

In Devanagari: ॐ भूर् भुवः स्वः ।तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यंभर्गो॑ देवस्य धीमहि ।धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥. The mantra is usually repeated 108 times. The reason for that is a little bit esoteric and again, there are a few explanations which don’t always agree with one another. Here is one from Sadhguru:

Below is a video that will teach you the pronunciation and I also find the melody and orchestration quite charming. You can use it to learn the mantra initially since it also repeats 108 times.

There have been many translations of the text over the years but at the most basic level, you are asking for enlightenment. My current favourite translation is: “We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may it inspire our intelligence.”

Mantra in Asana Practice

In Ashtanga Yoga, there are two mantras, that are regularly used before and after Asana practice. The opening mantra is this:

Om
Vande Gurunam Charanaravinde
Sandarshita Svatma Sukava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohashantyai

Abahu Purushakaram
Shankhacakrsi Dharinam
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam
Pranamami Patanjalim
Om

Translation:

I bow to the lotus feet of the Supreme Guru
which awaken insight into the happiness of pure Being,
which are the refuge, the jungle physician,
which eliminate the delusion caused by the poisonous herb of Samsara.

I prostrate before the sage Patanjali
who has thousands of white
, radiant heads
and who has assumed the form of a man
holding a conch shell, a wheel and a sword.

Om

Svasthi Praja Bhyaha Pari Pala Yantam
     Nya Yena Margena Mahim Mahishaha
   Go Brahmanebhyaha Shubamastu Nityam
    Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
   Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi

Translation:

May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
For protecting the welfare of all generations.
  May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed,
  May all beings everywhere be happy and free
   Om peace, peace, perfect peace

Meditation for Game Developers

Talking about Yoga and Meditation to fellow Game Mixer delegates in Cologne.
© Stiftung Digitale Spielekultur / Niels Freidel

Recently, I was invited to Cologne as a delegate of the fabulous Game Mixer programme. At the previous edition, which took place in November 2017 in Johannesburg, I already talked a little bit about Ashta and there seemed to be a lot of interest in the topic of Yoga and meditation. Specifically, what exactly I do every morning at an ungodly hour.

So this year, I prepared a little presentation on my own meditation practice, which started ten years ago. In many ways, I am still at the beginning of what looks like a life-long journey but I have learned a few things along the way, which I love to share. 

Many people experience stress for one reason or another. For example, I used to feel that nothing I did was ever enough. My accomplishments were quickly followed by a feeling that I still hadn’t arrived and that in spite of my successes, there was something lacking.

Of course, this begs a few questions like “what is a success” and “what is it I want” neither of which I was able to answer. Instead, I would simply pursue new goals. But achieving them always left an empty space, which was invariably filled with the next project. 

I know this type of behaviour is not uncommon especially among people in the entertainment industry. For many years, it left me stranded in a hamster wheel, chasing a promise of fulfilment that never arrived but often led me into exhaustion and disillusionment. 

Yoga, meditation and other little routines and exercises I practice throughout the day have helped me overcome these feelings. They might not work for everyone as they have for me but it may be helpful for some to share my process so they can build on it or find out what works best for them. Here is roughly what my typical day looks like right now:

  • 3.15 – 3.20 am: rise and shine
  • 3.20 – 3.50 am: shower and bathroom routine
  • 3.50 – 4.15 am: get dressed and cycle to the gym
  • 4.20 – 5.50 am: asana practice 
  • 5.50 – 6.10 am: cycle home
  • 6.10 – 6.50 am: pranayama
  • 6.50 – 7.05 am: meditation 
  • 7.05 – 8.00 am: breakfast 
  • 8.00 – 12.00 pm: creative work (if I’m lucky)
  • 12.00 – 1.00 pm: lunch
  • 1.00 – 4.00 pm: administrative work (and procrastination of the same)
  • 4.00 – 5.00 pm: light creative work and exercise 
  • 5.00 – 6.00 pm: dinner
  • 6.00 – 9.00 pm: leisure time
  • 9.00 – 3.15 am: sleep –> REPEAT

Depending on my current circumstances, the timing of the routine might shift but the durations remain the same. The reason why I do what to some might appear an excessively lengthy routine because for me, it is the foundation of happiness which is one of my ongoing projects.   

I realise that this is a tricky schedule to maintain and I sometimes deviate from it; especially when I am travelling or during time of illness or injury. Also, you have to keep in mind that I have been doing this practice in one form or another for over ten years and in the beginning, my schedule wasn’t anywhere near what it is today. If you want to start exploring your own practice, my advice to you would be to find a good teacher and not to rush it. The key to a successful and sustainable practice is consistency, not speed or acrobatic ability. I am happy to share what I have learned so please feel free to reach out with any questions you might have.