An Introduction to Chanting Yoga Mantras


Within Westernised Yoga studios, you sometimes miss out on the chanting and OMs at the start and end of class. If you have ever attended one of my classes, you will know that this is something I always included within our practice. As requested by my students, here is a break down of some the mantras we chant at the start and end of the class, and what they mean.


Disclaimer:

I am by no means and expert on mantras and chanting. I exclusively use the mantras that I was taught by my own teachers, during my teacher training. I include mantras within my classes, because I think it is important for us to honour the true practice and the culture.

If you would like some more information about chanting or mantras, I would recommend you seek out an experienced teacher, such as Madhura Bhagwat, she teaches mantra classes every Saturday from 6pm till 7:30pm.


Before we get stuck into the list of mantras we use and some of the phonetic chants, here are a few important things to note:


Why do we chant?

Mantra can be translated to "words of power" or "free the mind". It helps us shift our awareness inwards, to ourselves. Mantra is traditionally used to call on various energies and Gods in different ways, to help you through difficult times or tasks, to look after your health, to calm you mind and for many other reasons. As I say with any Yoga practice, acknowledge how you feel. Do mantras make you feel good? Does it have a positive effect on you? Then breathe in deep and chant the mantras with pride.


Pronunciation is important

Sanskrit has a large alphabet, with plenty of diverse and different sounds. When the mantras were translated into English, we didn't have all of the relevant letters within out alphabet to make all of the correct sounds, so it is very common to mispronounce words. You will also see the same word, spelt in a variety of different ways, this is all due to the issues with translation and pronunciation.

Mantras utilise the power of sound healing, which makes pronunciation important. Mispronunciation can effect the wrong points within the body and cause an undesired effect.

If you would like to learn more about the amazing effects that sounds have on our body, check out Dr Emoto. A Japanese scientist who conducted experiments with words and sounds on water. Truly amazing stuff! Dr Emoto's experiments with sounds, words and water.


All sanskrit within this blog was taken from Greenmesg, an incredible website for mantras. Visit their website for a deeper dive into mantras and chanting.


OM

Infinity, eternity and immortality.

OM or AUM, is the basic sound of the universe, you can hear it everywhere, from putting your ear next to a shell, inside a bell and even inside some musical instruments. All sounds, even the ones we use within language today, came out of OM. It is made up of three different sounds A-U-M. The A comes from your belly, the U from your chest and the M from your lips. The ratio of the AU to the M, should be either 1:1 or 1:2. On a physiological level, it calms the mind, helps sooth voice and throat issues, relives tension and stress and helps you sleep. It can even sooth a baby.


Sanskrit


Phonetic Chant

AAUUUMMMMM


Translation

OM


Shanti Mantra

May we be protected.

One of my all time favourite mantras, it has such a beautiful meaning behind it. Shanti literally translates to "peace". Due to different schools of teaching, searching "shanti mantra" will return many different mantras. For more info on this mantra search "saha nau vavatu".


Sanskrit

ॐ सह नाववतु ।

सह नौ भुनक्तु ।

सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥


Phonetic Chant

OM Saha Nau vavatu |

Saha Nau Bhunaktu |

Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai |

Tejasvi Naav-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai |

OM Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||


Translation

OM May we be protected |

May we enjoy the fruits of our endeavour together |

May we become strong together |

May our learning be full of light, May we never have enmity for one another |

OM Peace, Peace, Peace ||


Universal Mantra

May we all be happy and free from illness.⁠

This mantra is a beautiful message to send to everyone, as well as yourself. Asking for everyone to be happy and free of any illness and to look for the good in each other. In today’s ever changing and ever more difficult world, I think we could all do with a bit more of this in our lives!⁠


Sanskrit⁠

ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः⁠

सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।⁠

सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु⁠

मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।⁠

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥⁠


Phonetic Chant⁠

OM Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinaha⁠

Sarve Santu Niraamayaaha |⁠

Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu⁠

Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |⁠

OM Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||⁠


Translation⁠

OM, may all be happy

May all be free from illness.⁠

May all look to the good of others⁠

May no one suffer from sorrow.⁠

OM Peace, Peace, Peace.⁠



Ganesha Mantra

Please make my work free of obstacles. Always.⁠

Ganesha is a Hindu God, it is believed that praying to Lord Ganesha, before commencing any deeds or tasks, will help you complete your tasks without any obstacles. A Ganesha Mantra is normally the first mantra chanted at many different Indian festivals.⁠


Sanskrit⁠

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभ ।⁠

निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा ॥⁠


Phonetic Chant⁠

Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Suurya-Kotti Samaprabha |⁠

Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa ||⁠


Translation⁠

O Lord Ganesha, of curved trunk, large body, and with the brilliance of a million suns, please make my work free of obstacles, always.⁠




Patanjali Yoga Prayer

Patanjali, the expert in removing the impurities of the mind, body and speech.⁠

This mantra can be considered as a starting prayer, and can proceed any other mantras. Patanjali is considered to be the Father of Ayurveda, Ashtanga Yoga* and sanskrit pronunciation. There are various core Yogic texts by Patanjali, including the infamous Yoga Sutras. Whether or not Patanjali was one or many different people, it is believed that their knowledge and practice purified the mind through Yoga, the body with Ayurveda and speech with grammar/pronunciation.⁠

*By “Ashtanga” Yoga, I don’t mean K. Pattabhi Jois’s physical Ashtanga vinyāsa practice. In this context Ashtanga Yoga is referring to the yogic path of 8 limbs.⁠


Sanskrit⁠

योगेन चित्तस्य पदेन वाचां ।⁠

मलं शरीरस्य च वैद्यकेन ॥⁠

योऽपाकरोत्तमं प्रवरं मुनीनां ।⁠

पतञ्जलिं प्राञ्जलिरानतोऽस्मि ॥⁠


Phonetic Chant⁠

Yogena Cittasya Padena Vaacaam |⁠

Malam Shariirasya Cha Vaidyakena ||⁠

Yo paakarottamam Pravaram Muniinaam |⁠

Patan.jalim Praan.jalir-Aanatosmi ||⁠


Translation

I bow down to him who purifies the impurities of the Mind by removing the Chitta Vrittis (constant chatter of the mind) through Yoga, who purifies the expression of Speech by Pada (Grammar),⁠

and who purifies the impurities of the Body through Vaidya (Medical Science),⁠

He who is an expert in removing the impurities of the Body, Mind and Speech, to that most excellent of Munis (Saints)⁠

Patanjali, I bow down with folded hands.⁠




Asato Maa

Let all of the darkness fade away.

When I was training in India, this is the note that I put next to this mantra in my textbook. “Let all of the darkness fade away”. For me personally, just saying this phrase in English brings peace and comfort. It can really be that simple, just let all of the darkness fade away, and let the rest of your journey be joyful and pleasant.⁠


Sanskrit⁠

ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।⁠

तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।⁠

मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।⁠

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥⁠


Phonetic Chant⁠

OM Asato Maa Sad-Gamayuh |⁠

Tamaso Maa Jyotir-Gamayuh |⁠

Mrtyor-Maa Amratam Gamayuh |⁠

OM Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||⁠

.⁠

Translation

OM, keep me not in the world of unreality, but make me go towards the reality of the Eternal Self |

Keep me not in the (Ignorant State of) Darkness, but make me go towards the Light (of Spiritual Knowledge) |

Keep me not in (the world of) Mortality, but make me go towards the world of immortality (self-realisation) |

OM, Peace, Peace, Peace ||


Gayatri Mantra

For positive energy.

This mantra has an incredible sound and is used to help generate positive energy. It has been shown to help reduce cancer cells within the body. It is recommend to place your hand on a glass of water, chant the mantra 108 times and then drink the glass of water morning, noon and night.


Sanskrit

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः

तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं

भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि

धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्॥


Phonetic Chant

Om Bhuur-Bhuvah Svah

Tat-Savitur-Varennyam

Bhargo Devasya Dhiimahi

Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracodayaat ||


Translation

We pray to the Sun who is eternal and has revered excellent brightness, who's greatness is spread all over the Earth, space and universe. Let great spirits insight out minds in the right direction ||


Chelsea is a Yoga Therapy Teacher that trained in Dharamashala, India. She teaches 14 live online classes per week as well as offering private 1:1 classes, with Wildflower Yoga Therapy.

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