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Paardenvissers. Foto Jan Stads / Pix4Profs

Yemaya Assessu

Thursday evening, teaching Vinyasa flow. No meditation. It feels strange. For years I’ve been doing two classes in a row. And for years they have belonged together, for me. Asana and meditation, meditation and asana; they’re one.

Teaching meditation was always a challenge. A nice one. I like the whole philosophy behind yoga. For me yoga isn’t just asana, it’s a way of life and every way of life comes with some philosophy behind it. It’s always possible to put a little ‘message’ in an asana class, but really going into depth is easier in a meditation class.
After some (modern) yoga philosophy and a meditation to dig deep inside I always like to end with something ‘lighthearted’. For the last few years I had this beautiful group that really loved singing, so I usually picked a mantra, explained and translated the mantra and then we just would sing it: out loud.
A lot of mantras came by; mostly Kundalini mantras. The one that touched me most in the last couple of weeks wasn’t a Kundalini mantra though, it was the only African one I did: Yemaya Assessu. I heard it once on an album of Deva Premal and looked it up on the internet. I found a translation and a poem of it, which you find below.

For me it’s pure yoga: the circle of life, death and rebirth. As we come to this earth we have to find our own path back to love, back to the source. There will be all obstacles (boulders and blocks) in our way, there will be times full of love and prosperity (spring’s plenty) and there will be hard times (winter’s scarcity), but our goal is to return to back to the source (always flowing towards the One). If we find it, will be immersed in love. For ever.

Yemaya Assessu

Where the River joins the Sea

Yemaya Assessu, Assessu yemaya
Yemaya olodo, Olodo yemaya

“Yemaya is the gush of the Spring.
The gush of the Spring is Yemaya.
The Mother of the Children of Fishes is the Owner of Rivers.
The Owner of Rivers is the Mother of the Children of Fishes.”

This chant celebrates the joining of the river to the Sea (the soul to the infinite) and to the Goddess of the Ocean. At the same time, it is a love-song of the soul to God, for the river flows through each soul.

The river seeks the Sea as the soul seeks
the Source from which it came.

It rushes down mountain pathways,
into tumbling streams which become rivers,
always flowing toward the One.
It does not wait, it does not tarry,
it finds its way past boulders and rocks,
through Spring’s plenty and Winter’s scarcity,
until it reaches the outlet to the Sea.
This Sea is its home.
The home of the soul.
The home of the heart.
The home of one’s being.
All of life depends on the Sea.
For the Sea is the great Mother,
and all of life lives within Her.
The aching dryness of parched land,
the cold frozenness of inhospitable passages –
none can stop the forward motion of the River,
for its destiny is the Ocean, which is both
its beginning and its end.


Foto on top: Jan Stads / Pix4Profs

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