Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Mantra: Why we chant
“Man” (derived from manas) meaning mind, “Tra” meaning vehicle or tool.
A mantra is a sound, word or series of words repeated aloud or silently to aid in the concentration of the mind. This sacred vibration can also be a form of prayer or invocation of a deity or their specific qualities. Mantra is the oldest form of Sadhana in Yoga, known as “Bhakti", or devotional yoga.
In many traditions, a specific, unique mantra is assigned by a teacher to a each individual student. The mantra is bestowed upon the student, according to where the teacher thinks the student is on his/her path of yoga. In modern yoga, this is not necessarily a requirement and people chant mantras for many different reasons. There are several styles of mantra to try such as Bija, Japa or Kirtan. Mainly they are used in modern yoga to help one focus on an intention or Sankalpa.
Mantras are tools that we use to navigate through the ocean of our thoughts and fluctuations of the mind during meditation. Mantra can be a simple sound used to calm a frazzled mind, such as repeating“OM” silently, or perhaps invoking the grounding power of a deity like Ganesh by chanting, “om gam ganapataye namaha”, to remove an obstacle or blocks in your path. Bija ("seed" mantras) are often a one syllable sound uttered to activate and balance the chakras. Bija chanting is often done with "Malas" or prayer beads to help "seed" the intention in your mind. The constant repetition of a Bija on mala beds is known as "Japa". It is usually repeated one hundred and eight times.
How do you begin chanting?
Starting a mantra practice can be as simple chanting “OM’ or as complex as a diligent Bhakti practice with a Guru. The key to its power is the sound itself, rather than literally understanding the meaning of each word. Mantra’s power lies in its sacred vibrational connection to the divine. While it behooves one to learn what you are chanting and have a clear intention, a good way to learn is follow along in a kirtan session. Kirtan, or call and response chanting, is done in gatherings or Satsangs and is a great way to get started. Chanting builds a happy Sangha (community) and a sense of unity during any group yoga or spiritual practice. Music and chanting can be very healing and a useful tool on your journey of spiritual evolution. It relaxes the mind and elevates the spirit.
Unlock the mystery of mantras today! Just get started by listening to different chants and see which one resonates themes with you. When you have chosen a mantra you like, research it, find the Sanskrit wording and learn the proper intonation. All of these can be achieved by simply asking a Yoga teacher at your local studio or browsing online resources like Youtube or Google. There are also many books and also Bhakti forums online about the sacred practice of mantra.
For Chanting and Yoga for beginners, join me here in Mallorca for my Bhakti Flow classes, where I combine Vinyasa yoga and Chanting to stretch and strengthen the body, and soothe the soul.
*Check my Schedule for online and live classes here. You don't have to be religious to chant, you just have to be open to spirit.