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What is a Mantra and How Do We Use Them?

A mantra is a word or phrase that is chanted during yoga practice or meditation. It is meant to focus the mind and help to clear the chatter of the day. Many people find the process of chanting makes them feel uncomfortable when they first start yoga classes.  This is understandable as it something that is not found in any other part of life.  However, when we embrace mantras, we can see that our practice can take us more in-depth in the subconscious mind which enables us to open channels of communication and move negative thoughts and habits over to a more positive state.

What Makes a Mantra

In all honesty, you could use any series of words as a mantra, and many people have English phrases that they use as confidence and affirmations to help them on their daily journey – for example, I am vibrantly healthy can help those struggling with feelings of ill health.  However, generally in yoga and meditation, we tend to use Sanskrit words or phrases.  This is because when pronounced correctly the sounds they make perfectly resonate with the universe and send out a vibration that helps the manifestation of the intent behind the selected wording.

Om

This is the most commonly cited Mantra. One that most people associate with yoga and meditation.  It is said to be the sound of the universe.  The vibration of all birth and death within the world.  When used as a mantra, Om is a great soothing and calming noise as it resonates at the same frequency as the universe, so is perfect for ending a yoga session.

Om Mani Padme Hum

A literal translation of this mantra is harder to explain.  It has been given many meanings over time. But the fact remains the sounds and resonation are perfect for meditation and yoga.  This saying is often found written as a prayer inside a prayer wheel; such is its perceived power. When you repeat this mantra, you are invoking blessings and focusing the mind.

So Hum

The shorter mantra of So Hum is also a favourite chant to be heard in yoga classes. The literal translation is ‘I am that’.  So meaning I am, and Hum meaning that.  It is thought to be the sound embodiment of breath. This chant is used to bring about a focus on the self.  The repetition of the mantra should be slow and easy to complement the relaxed breathing of the meditative state.

Om Gum Ganapatayei Namah

This chant has a more natural literal translation from Sanskrit to English. It is a prayer and blessing to Ganesh calling upon him to remove obstacles from our path. This is an excellent mantra to use when you are facing a tough time or have difficult decisions to make.

Embracing the use of mantras is not always easy at first. However, it is essential to try and move beyond the physical space and instead transcend into the metaphysical space.  Your choice of words is a powerful tool and prayer and should be embraced.  With practice, you will come to love the strength and peace that comes from their use.

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