Yoga is for everyone!
In my previous blog I talked about the four attitudes that help us deal with the mental chatter and life's ups and downs, and the four mantras that can help bring us back to balance. Here I will give you a few more mantras to widen your repertoire.
A well-chosen mantra can steady us in the times of self-doubt, when our resolve to stay the course of chosen action may be weakening, when we need courage to take upon some unpleasant yet necessary task, or when we need an extra boost of confidence. This mantra is my war chant, and I don't use it often, but when I do, I feel like a Goliath. Care must be taken with powerful mantras like this, as it can make one aggressive and quarrelsome, quick to find fault with others and quick to let anger rip unchecked. After chanting this mantra I recommend a few rounds of cooling Pranayama, such as Chandra Bhedana or Seetali, to help us keep our self-control.
Shradha is a concept that does not have a single equivalent in English, but can loosely be translated as "faith". It means awareness of one's inherent power, but power that stems from love, not hate. Sri Aurobindo in his book "Search for Light" translates it as "the soul's belief in the Divine's existence, wisdom, power, love and grace." It's like having all the angels behind your back.
Another mantra that I love is a chant to the aspect of the universe that opens doors and possibilities, removes obstacles and helps us find the way towards our goals. In the Hindu religion this aspect is represented by the Lord Ganesha, who is much revered in the Indian culture.
This mantra brings absolute joy to the one who chants it, and it rolls off the tongue in quick, vibrant notes. It is best chanted with abandon for a long time, until the mantra "chants itself" in the back of your mind. Then for the rest of the day you will be unstoppable! Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha!
Mantras can be used for mindfulness and for deepening our spiritual practice, but they can also be used for healing. When I need to summon the nourishing and replenishing element of the universe to help me restore health and vitality, I think of the Moon. Moon is a known healer (and good night's sleep is one of the best medicines around!). Herbs collected during the full moon have extra potency. You can chant the following mantra when you want to enhance the medicinal properties of your herbal remedies or your self-healing routines.
The Sun is also a powerful healing energy, and is much revered in the Yoga tradition. Just think of Surya Namaskar, or the Sun Salutation! Chanting a mantra to Surya will bring heat and vitality, will energize you and boost metabolism.
This Mantra can be a bit Pitta-aggravating for those of us who have a lot of fire in the system, so opt for the Moon chant, if you have a Pitta imbalance or a Pitta-dominant dosha (check out my extensive writings on Ayurveda).
I think these mantras are great to reach for, but of course, they are just a few out of thousands. Next time I will finish these series with more of my favorite mantras that are a bit more complicated. Stay tuned!
How many times repeat each mantra? Thank you.
When mantras are part of a Sun Salutation, then on each exhalation. If they are part of a paranayama, then you can either split it up and chant half on the inhale and half on the exhale mentally, or, if your breath is long enough, you can mentally recite the whole thing - it is a great timing mechanism that replaces the counting of the breath. If the mantra is done separately as a chanting practice alone, then as long as you like, until it "fills you up". A mantra is "protection for the mind" - it crowds out useless, negative thoughts, so it needs to fill the mental field, like a stew fills up to the brim the cooking pot, displacing whatever else might be there. Cook the same dish long enough in the same pot, and it starts to smell of the dish. Some say you need to chant 108 times, but that's not necessary, in my opinion, although if you have the time, go for it. It is a great way to build discipline. Chant it until it becomes a part of your inner rhythm, when it "chants itself" in the background of your awareness.