A mantra is a word, sound or statement that is repeated over and over again to aid in concentration during meditation. In the Yoga Sutras, mantra is described as “that which keeps the mind steady and produces the proper effect,” meaning a point of mental focus that allows practitioners to remain grounded in a specific idea or goal.
Mantra in Sanskrit comes from the words manas (mind) and tra (tool). The breakdown gives us the literal definition – a mantra is a mind tool.
In yoga, through the use of mantra, there is a belief that those mantras will come into manifestation in your life. Because of this, mantra can be a powerful integration in any yoga class, whether to help students concentrate during meditation, or to help them manifest something into their lives.
From the use of traditional mantras or newly created mantras, there are many ways to weave this concept into your teaching.
Here are a few ideas:
Allow the students to create a mantra of their own, but perhaps give them a prompt or sentence stem to spark their ideas. One of my favorites is encouraging people to come up with “I am” statements. Such as:
I am strong.
I am present.
I am loved.
I am whole.
I am bold.
I am capable.
I am statements are empowering and simple. A great mantra to bring into a yoga class.
Many mantras that are still used in the yoga studio today can be traced back to Vedic times. Traditional mantras are often repeated 108 times, and a mala necklace is used as a tool. These mantras hold deep significance in the yoga community, and many practitioners believe the repetition of the following mantras are linked to a healing response in the body.
Om: The unifying sound of the universe
Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu: May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti: Om Peace Peace Peace
Om Namah Shivaya: I bow to Shiva
Aham-Prema: I am Divine Love
Om Mani Padme Hum: The jewel is in the lotus
So Hum: I am that
Poems or Quotes:
Quotes can also be a great tool for a yoga practice as you craft a class theme, but they can also be used as a mantra. Pick a quote and come back to the quote over and over during class. Another option is to pull a sentence from a powerful piece of writing or poem; use the line you pick to guide your class.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“It is okay to not know everything and still know that you are being guided right where you need to be.” – Morgan Harper Nichols
“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.” – Aaron Rose
“I am in awe of flowers. Not because of their colors, but because even though they have dirt in their roots they still grow. They still bloom.” –D. Antoinette Foy
“Let silence be the art you practice.” –Rumi
"Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory." –Dr. Suess
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” – Pema Chodron
“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” –Maya Angelou