If you have yet to try a Yoga style that already includes the use of chanting or Mantras, I would encourage you to integrate either or both of these powerful tools into your own Yoga practice. Yoga is designed to bring about an eventual focusing of the mind and the ability to give anything your full and undivided attention. Mantras or chanting enhance this process and help calm the mind while giving your Ego something to keep it occupied – and therefore relatively quiet.
The power of Mantra
An easy demonstration of how powerful a Mantra can be in keeping the mind from wandering is as follows: Sit with your back straight in a chair, close your eyes, and pay attention to the number of random thoughts that arise in your own mind for about thirty seconds. Done? Now repeat this again, except this time repeat a word or phrase either out loud or in your head that has meaning for you. Notice the difference?
There is no limit to what you may use when it comes to your Mantra or chanting choices, as long as you choose that which has deep meaning for you personally. It is true that certain Mantras have been spoken so many times throughout history that their resonances are already deeply embedded within us and all of nature. Use of any of the following Mantras can have profound effects in both the short and long term. Say these words with reverence, and do not feel like you must be bound to this short list.
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Aum Mani Padme Hum or “The Jewel at the Heart of the Lotus” is a very common mantra and is used throughout Tibet and parts of India. It is a reminder that within us lays a shining piece of the Creative Essence of the Universe itself.
Aum or Om is not a word but rather an intonation; like music, it transcends the barriers of race, culture, and age. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, ‘aa,’ ‘au’ and ‘ma’ which when combined together makes the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. Aum or Om is a mantra or prayer in itself; if repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one’s being, bringing awareness of the soul.
Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo – Normally used as the opening Mantra to Kundalini Yoga practice, Ong is defined as “Infinite Creative energy in manifestation and activity”. Namo means “reverent greetings’ implying humility. Guru means “teacher or wisdom”, and Dev means “Divine or of God”. Lastly, Namo reaffirms humility and reverence. When used as a Mantra, it is taken to mean “I call upon Divine Wisdom”. This is a beautiful Mantra as it reminds us to call upon the Divine in a spirit of humility and reverence – not for something outside of ourselves, but humility and reverence for our – selves.
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Bija or Seed Mantras
Bija Mantras (Seed Mantras) – Each seed is conceived of as the sound-form of a particular Hindu deity, and each deity is in turn a particular aspect of the Absolute (Brahman). It’s said that just as a great tree resides in within the seed, so does a god or goddess reside in each Bija. When we chant the Bijas, we identify each syllable with the divine energy they represent. Use of these Mantras is quite effective in awakening Kundalini and energizing the core Chakras of the body.
Lam – Curve the tip of your tongue up and back, and place it on the rear section of the upper palate to pronounce a sound like the word alum without the initial a. Concentrate on the base of the spine.
Vam – Place the upper set of teeth on the inner section of your lower lip and begin with a breathy consonant to imitate the sound of a fast car. Pronounce the mantra like “fvam.” Keep your attention on the genital area.
Ram – Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of the front section of the upper palate, roll the r as when speaking Spanish, and pronounce the mantra like the first part of the word rumble. Bring your awareness to the abdomen.
Yam – Inhale audibly through your mouth, and pronounce the word hum (as in humming); allow the breath to extend beyond the end of the consonant. Breathe into the Solar Plexus and heart Area.
Ham – Inhale noiselessly through your mouth, and pronounce the sound like the word yum (as in yummy); allow the sound along with your breath to fill your mouth and throat cavity. Bring your awareness to your throat.
Om – Inhale audibly through your nostrils, and direct the stream of air to the point between your eyebrows. Pronounce the sound along with your exhalation as a subtly audible whisper, allowing the sound and breath to resonate in your head. Concentrate on the third eye or space between your eyes in the center of your forehead.
In our daily lives, we must be aware of the Mantras or chants we tend to repeat in our minds. Carrying your Yoga chants or Mantras into daily activities will bring you more focus in these areas as well and allow you to determine what signals you are sending out into the world around you. Remember, chants or Mantras like “I’ll never make it” can be just as powerful as positive chants like “I accept love into my life.” The side effect of getting into the habit of reciting a chant or Mantra is to become more in tune with the world around you, and more aware of what your own mind is saying or chanting to you when you are not paying attention.
Peace, goodwill and joy towards all beings…