Invocation to Patanjali

Definition - What does Invocation to Patanjali mean?

Invocation to Patanjali is a chant that is often used to open an Iyengar Yoga class, or before chanting the Yoga Sutras. It is a way of honouring Patanjali, once of the ancient forefathers of the yogic tradition. The Iyengar tradition in particular is grounded in the teachings of Patanjali.

By chanting the Invocation to Patanjali, the practitioner is acknowledging not just Patanjali, but also the the lineage of teachers that have enabled the practice of yoga to be passed down. Its words evoke the purifying power of these ancient teachings.

Yogapedia explains Invocation to Patanjali

The Sanskrit words of the first stanza of the Invocation to Patanjali are:
Yogena cittasya padena vacam
Malam sarirasyaca vaidyakena
Yopakarottam prvaram muninam
Patanjalim pranjaliranato’ smi


This can be translated as:

“With palms folded together,
I bow respectfully to Patanjali, the best of sages,
Who dispels the impurities of the mind with Yoga,
Of speech through grammar, and of the body by means of medicine.”

This first stanza honours Patanjali for all the teachings he has shared - yoga for the mind, correct words and grammar to purify speech, and the science of medicine to purify the body.

There is also a second stanza that describes the physical appearance of Lord Patanjali. This is intended to conjure his image in the mind’s eye to allow for better meditation on his form.

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