In the tradition of Iyengar yoga it is usual that the invocation is chanted at the beginning of classes at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Institute, Pune.
The sage Patanjali is the author of the Yoga Sutras, one of the classical yoga philosophy texts. We chant this invocation to Patanjali to honor the ancient tradition of yoga and the lineage of yoga that we practice.
Geeta Iyengar describes another reason for reciting the chant: “We chant so that at the very beginning that feeling of sanctification comes from inside, with the feeling of surrendering oneself, because nothing can be learned in this world unless you have the humility to learn.”
(From an interview of Geeta Iyengar by Margo Kitchen, RIMYI, 1992.)
Let us bow before the noblest of sages Patanjali,
Who gave Yoga for serenity and sanctity of mind,
Grammar for clarity and purity of speech, and
Medicine for perfection of health.
Let us prostrate before Patanjali,
An incarnation of Adisesa,
Whose upper body has a human form
Whose arms hold a conch and disc, and
Who is crowned by a thousand-headed cobra