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Beyond Om: Mantras to Inspire Your Yoga Practice

Posted on Mon, Apr 22, 2013

mantra, yoga mantraWhether you meditate regularly or not, you’re familiar with the power of a word or phrase to focus yourself.  In class, the chanting of Om (said to be the syllable “of the vibration of the Supreme”) or the quiet sharing of Namaste (which  can be translated as “the divine in me salutes the divine in you) heightens your experience and brings your mind back to the present after Savasana (Corpse Pose). But, there is so much more to the power of mantras in your meditation or your yoga practice.

They can be there for you as a confidence tool, a sort of “you can do it!” mnemonic for yourself trying a hard pose or gathering yourself to achieve a personal goal, whether it’s a move, a promotion or a bucket-list yoga poses. Mantras can also still the monkey mind that is trying to spend your entire mediation session worrying about whether you’ve paid the bills, when you’re going to get the groceries or how you’re going to manage your hectic schedule for the next week.

yoga mantra, yoga pawsIn many yogic traditions, mantas are held to have a power that helps you access a different state of being, one that is calmer and less distracted than your everyday mental patterns. Some mantra experts contend that mantras can help you tap into your “super-conscious” which is the highest form of consciousness. Mantras also help you regulate your breath as you meditate, allowing you to breathe more regularly and deeply, which in turn helps you calm down.

You can meditate on any word or phrase that has meaning to you. You can also try chanting the mantra out loud or meditating on it in silence to find you what works for you. It might be easier for you to do this as a walking meditation, for example. However you choose to explore this practice, here are some mantras to add to the rhythm of your life:

 

Gayatiri Mantra

Om bhur bhuvah svah

tat-savitur varenyam

bhargo devasya dhimahi

dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

(May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god:
So may he stimulate our prayers)

Considered the mother of all mantras (so popular that a version was featured in the opening theme of Battlestar Galactica), this is usually preceeded by Om. It is an invocation of connection to the divine or a higher power and it’s a great mantra for times when you feel weak, helpless or unempowered.    Here is a link to hear Deva Premal singing this mantra. 

 

Om Namah Shivaya 

While this ancient mantra has no direct translation, it refers to the elements which govern five of the chakras. It can be roughly interpreted as a salutation to what you are capable of becoming. If you are looking for a feeling of freedom or you want to explore the chakras, this is a mantra to try.  Here is a link to Krishnas Das performing this mantra. 

 

Om Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu 

Om 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.)

This mantra is a simple invocation about making the world a better place. It reminds you of the good you are empowered to do and receive in return. This is a fantastic mantra for times when you feel like you can’t fix the problems you see around you, in your life or that of others.  Here is a link to hear Deva Premal singing this mantra.  

hipchanter1 228x300These are only a few of the many phrases out there you can meditate on. There are a number of websites that have streaming audio with mantras, but, as with any site, do a security scan before clicking “okay.” One starting point might be iTunes or Amazon.com’s MP3 downloads—or your local library’s audio section. you can feel free to find ones that are meaningful to you. Try the name of a loved one, or a favorite concept. Find something that speaks to you and compels you.

 

Dig Deeper

Meditation on the go

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Yoga pose library

Tags: Stress reduction, music for yoga, self discovery, Mantras

Om: Yoga to a Whole New Beat

Posted on Wed, Sep 05, 2012

yoga musicSound pervades your life. It’s a big part of the human experience. It’s one of the first senses you experience and one of the last to leave. So, it’s not hard to understand why you want music in your life – in your car, in your earbuds as you work out and in your yoga practice. As you know from your yoga classes, the pacing and intensity of the music becomes part of the practice. Drumming makes Sun Salutations go so much faster, so much easier as you match your breath to the beat. Bells and chant provide a stream that helps you flow through vinyasa sequences. But, just as each chakra has its own sound, each person is moved by different types of music. An hour of “Om” might deepen one student’s practice. But, that’s not the only option. For Jivamukti founder David Life, using modern music is his way of fusing a 5000-year-yoga playlistold discipline and the priorities of today’s world. “Hip hop musicians are today’s poets,” he said during a class at the World Peace & Yoga Jubliee, Loveland, Ohio. For Life, the choice of music is also about drawing students’ attention to the voices he sees as making a statement on society—just like ancient poets and sages.

Regardless of whether you enjoy hitting the mat to hip hop in class, when it comes to your home practice, the options are wide open. What you choose to practice to is a matter of preference. Before you hit iTunes or Pandora, think about how you want your practice to make you feel.  If you want a relaxing practice, obviously, you’re going to be seeking out softer sounds with a slower beat. For some energizing Ashtanga or Vinyasa flows, however, you may want to look more up tempo. Or you may want to link the rhythm of your breathing to the beat, so music with a regular pulse can actually help keep your breath calm and steady during more challenging poses.

yoga playlistOnce you know the pace of your practice, you can think about choosing songs that manifest your intention for that day. Are you looking for music that helps you imagine yourself in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) on top of an actual mountain? Are you looking for ambient sounds that subtly support your yoga without requiring your concentration? Are you looking for devotional chants that help you relate to the divine? Or would you rather crank up your favorite hits and start a yoga party of one? Whatever you decide, here are some picks to get you started:

Peaceful Yogi

If you want tracks that don’t put themselves center stage in your mind as you practice, these ethereal pieces add depth to your practice and help you slow down from the mental rush of every day. The exotic flavors of many of these songs also give your ears a vacation.

Songs to try:

Inner Journey—Karunesh

Shima Shima—Deva Premal

Waheguru Wahe Jio--Snatam Kaur

 

World Citizen

If you’re looking for a more dynamic approach to music with yogic roots, you might want to look at artists whose work marries myth and ancient concepts with more varied kinds of sonic storytelling. Melding influences from Madonna to Indian chant, these pieces take a global view of both sound and issues (Emmanuel Jal wants his music and activism to help bring peace back to his home country of South Sudan). Stylistically, these songs range from hip hop to pop.

Songs to try:

Ganesh is Fresh—MC Yogi

Sanctuary—Donna De Lory

Warchild—Emmanuel Jal

 

Rock Out

If you’re feeling like turning your practice up to an 11 today, thinking outside the box of traditional yoga music can be fun. You might find that it’s easier to approach challenging poses or keep your energy level up through a practice when you are accompanied by your favorite iTunes playlist.

Songs to try:

Michael Franti and Spearhead - "Say Hey (I Love You)"

M83 - We Own the Sky

Goldfrapp - Fly Me Away [Ladytron Remix]

 

Whatever you choose to practice to today, play with letting the music direct your intention for the practice and see how you feel. As you move through the poses, focus on how you feel with a variety of different sounds. You might be surprised at how much what you hear affects your body’s capacity to stretch, strengthen or balance.

 

Dig Deeper

Tips for deepening your yoga practice

Ways to start a fearless yoga practice

Yoga pose library

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: Yoga tips, music for yoga

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