In yoga, Mantra is the repetition of a sound, syllable, word or series of sounds, syllables or words, expressing intellectual or emotional content. Chanting is speaking or singing the Mantra out loud. Chanting alone creates vibrations within and outside of your body, and chanting in a group adds a resonance of vibrations which are enveloping, like you feel when listening to the music and singers in a band. Mantras may be in Sanskrit, the language of ancient Yogis, or in your own language.
An example of chanted Mantra outside of Yoga is what cheerleaders do on the sidelines of sporting events. When the crowd becomes involved, and the crowd is usually lopsided in cheering for the home team, you may understand the concept of home field advantage.
In yoga, Mantra is designed to clear your mind of streams of thoughts. A clear mind will assist you:
- in creating stillness or calmness of mind.
- in accommodating focus to do an exercise or a breathing technique.
- in accommodating meditation.
Mantras are typically soothing. When a Mantra is chanted, the vibrations of your voice will vibrate your spinal column and skull, which in turn, becomes a massage of your nerves, your nervous system, and your muscles.
- “Ong namo guru dev namo" is chanted three times at the beginning of a Kundalini Yoga class. The chanting at the beginning of Yoga class clears and calms the mind as a transition to focus upon the Yoga about to be practiced.
- “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung” (translated: “sun, moon, earth, infinity, we are one”) is one of many Mantras which may be chanted as a meditation after Kundalini Yoga exercises are completed. “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung” is known as the healing meditation, and is typically chanted for three minutes to thirty-one minutes. I recommend the rendition by Snatam Kaur, which may be purchased at "spiritvoyaage.com", as a cut from her "Grace" album. I share this with you because you may enjoy listening to it, and I know your children will enjoy it. As I was listening to it one evening while reading e-mail, my then four year old came into the room, began listening to it and singing along. I noticed it was very calming for her. Several days later, when she and her then eight year old sister were loudly scrapping with one another, I was decided to play this song and called them into the room where I was playing the tune, and a calmness came over both of them, and they both began singing along. Yes, this Mantra, “Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung” is beneficial to kids and adults alike to promote calmness of mind and heals the effects of tension and stress.
- “I am bountiful, I am blissful, I am beautiful, Excel, Excel, Fearless” is a Kundalini Mantra in our native language which functions as a positive affirmation. It may be repeated silently as during a meditation of three to eleven minutes after Kundalini Yoga exercises are completed. During the inhale: “I am bountiful, I am blissful, I am beautiful”, and during the exhale: “Excel, Excel, Fearless”. Or it may be chanted out loud for several repetitions. This Mantra is also integrated as a song into a Yoga exercise for kids.
- “Sat Nam” (translated: “truth is my identity" or :truth is my essence”) is typically chanted silently during a Kundalini Yoga pose which becomes rigorous for you to perform as you begin to sweat and perhaps shake. Say to yourself: “Sat” on the inhale, and “Nam” on the exhale. Repeating this Mantra to yourself will clear the thoughts of about how much longer you will be holding a pose as beads of sweat roll down your cheek. Instead of thinking of the sweat, you may find relaxation within the pose as you chant this silently to yourself, and then find yourself smiling while continuing on.
Mantra may be practiced by yourself for mental health stress release. You may start by listening to a Mantra being chanted on a CD, or by chanting along. When you progress to knowing the words, the rhythm and the tempo from chanting along with the audio, try the chanting without the audio. By using your own voice, the Mantra will take on a new dimension of fulfillment and enjoyment.
Mantra chanting practiced in a group adds energy and an amplification the benefits.
It makes no difference whether the chanting is in Sanskrit, English, or another language. Your mind and body will be positively impacted by a Mantra expressing a positive meaning in any language.