Focus and awareness, as difficult as they can be to maintain, are two essential ingredients for anyone who wants to truly benefit from yoga. For thousands of years, yogis have calmed the mind and cultivated conscious presence during their exercises and meditation by reciting mantras.
It is something you can incorporate into your practice with ease. As you recite your chosen word or phrase, your mind becomes occupied with it. Your consciousness rises above the monkey-mind, and you are able to bring awareness and focus into your asanas and meditation. What follows is a selection of traditional mantras, as well as a few surprising favourites from well-known instructors. Incorporate the one you like the most into your practice by reciting it aloud or silently with every inhalation and every exhalation. Do your best to keep a steady rhythm of breaths that are equal in length.
The Sanskrit term so’ham means ‘I am That’. The two words of the mantra also sound like inhalation and exhalation. The meaning, which points to the unity of all things, has inspired yogis to contemplation for millennia.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
The untranslatable syllable Om hints at creation, preservation, and transformation. Shanti means ‘peace’. Repeating it three times evokes peace in the body, in the mind, and in the heart. This also is an excellent mantra to remember when your slots NZ gaming sessions get a little too exciting.
I Am Love
The favourite mantra of therapist and yoga instructor Lauren Taus is ‘I am love’. She says it helps her to connect with and to share the love in her heart. This practice also helps her to cultivate compassion, and to deal with her insecurities.
Innovative instructor Annie Carpenter said that her go-to mantra when she needs help facing uncertainty is ‘Neti, neti’. The Sanskrit term means ‘not this, not that’. The term also refers to the indescribable state of perfect bliss that is the ancient ultimate goal of yoga.
Get Over Yourself
Internationally renowned instructor Meredith Cameron said the best mantra for putting things into perspective is ‘Get over yourself’. It’s not as surprising as it sounds, because the philosophy of yoga is focused on union with the higher self, and an essential part of that is transcending the ego.
Om Namo Narayanaya
This Sanskrit mantra means ‘I bow to the perfect perception of consciousness’ or ‘I bow to the place where all living beings rest’. Reciting it can help you remember that everything is a manifestation of one super-consciousness. It is a popular mantra in many schools of yoga.
In Hindu mythology, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and her husband, the preserver-god Vishnu took form on earth as Sita and Ram. Together, they represent devotion, courage, and strength. Reciting their mantra is believed to reinvigorate the body.
I Have Time
Media company founder and yoga instructor Lauren Eckstrom uses the mantra ‘I have time’ to move into mindfulness. She said it is a helpful reminder, especially when the rush of daily life takes over.