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.
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.
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.
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".