In the tradition of Ashtanga Yoga, each class begins and ends with a short mantra.

The mantra, chanted at the beginning of the class, is an invocation of the sage Patanjali (the author of the Yoga Sutras) and also gives thanks to the continuous line of teachers who have come before us (from Patanjali in the 2nd century B.C. to the present day)

vande gurūṇaṁ caraṇāravinde sandarśita svātma sukhāva bodhe

niḥ śreyase jaṅgalikāyamāne saṁsāra hālāhala mohaśāntyai

ābāhu puruṣakāraṁ śaṇkhacakrāsi dhāriṇam

sahasra śirasaṁ śvetaṁ praṇamāmi patañjalim

I bow to the lotus feet of the Gurus

The awakening happiness of one’s own Self, revealed

Beyond, better, acting like the jungle physician

Pacifying delusion, the poison of Samsara (conditioned existence)

Taking the form of a man to the shoulders

Holding a conch, a discus, and a sword

One thousand heads white

To Patanjali, I salute

At the end of the class the closing mantra is chanted

svastiprajābhyaḥ paripālayantāṁ nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṃ mahīśāḥ

gobrāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubhamastu nityaṃ lokāsamastā sukhinobhavantu

May all be well with humanity

May the leaders of the world protect in every way by keeping to the right path

May there be goodness for those who know the earth to be sacred

May all the people of all the worlds be happy

You could think of these two mantras almost like bookends, between which the formal practice of asana takes place. By regular chanting of the mantras we come to associate them with the demarcation of our formal practice from the rest of our day. The sound of each mantra becomes the point at which we know that now is the time for the practice, or as Patanjali writes in the very first of the yoga sutras;

Atha yoganusasanam

Now Begins Yoga

(Sūtra I:1)

Listen to Guruji chanting the opening mantra and the closing mantra

Watch this clip of Lakshmish (chanting, Sanskrit and yoga sūtra teacher from the KPJAYI in Mysore) chanting both mantras

Sharath chanting the closing mantra