There are aspects of yoga classes that can be pretty mystifying, from asana, to pranayama, to meditation, to mudras, and mantras. They all make up the practice of yoga, the practice, should we say, of union. Today we're looking at mantra chanting in yoga classes: the reason, the practice, and the benefits. We won’t be going over every single possible mantra and it's meaning(!) but let’s see if we can de-mystify this practice a little bit, and provide you with some more clarity on the importance of mantra chanting.
Mantra can be translated from Sanskrit, man meaning “mind” and trai meaning “to free from” or “tool”. We can use practicing mantras therefore, as a tool to free our mind. Simply, it is the practice of using the vibration of sound to mindfully focus our thoughts, feelings and intentions on a higher value or purpose; to energise ourselves and realign our awareness. Sometimes we recite mantras – sometimes slowly and sometimes quickly – other times we just listen to mantras, but it all works as an object for our focus; an object of meditation. Even a simple “om” at the start and/or end of a yoga class can be considered a mantra. Or you might be familiar with the universal Gayatri mantra, the popular Hindu: “om namah shivaya”, or Buddhist: “om mani padme hum”. Each mantra has a different meaning, intention, and effect.
Generally speaking, the more time and energy you spend on something, the greater the effect will be. If you repeat a mantra once a day, or if you repeat a mantra 108 times a day every day, you will notice the difference. Because at the end of the day it's all energy, and every vibration, every sound, has the ability to transform consciousness. So consistency is key: the longer you dedicate, and how well you strengthen and set your intention, will determine how beneficial mantra chanting is to you.
Everything, from your thoughts, feelings, and sounds, is the vibration of energy: when we recite mantras we have the power to transform this energy. Mantra chanting unifies our awareness and empowers our yoga practice, so if you don’t already have a mantra practice, consider starting one today. Find a language, a word, or a sound, that resonates with you. It doesn't have to be Sanskrit, it doesn’t have to be “om" – the importance is the intention behind your practice. Start with 5 minutes every day and see the benefits for yourself.
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