If you’ve been to a yoga class, you’ve likely heard the room chanting Om at some point during the class. Chanting this Sanskrit word is meant to reconnect you with the universe’s energy so you feel like you’re constantly moving, breathing and evolving.
If you’re like me, I was very foreign to the concept of chanting mantras when I first started my practice; however, I soon learned the power they had and the benefits I was beginning to feel after trying it in my yoga class. Naturally, I was curious to learn more. As my practice deepened, I discovered that chanting mantras, much like silent meditation, is a popular way to relax and reach a deeper state of consciousness.
It may seem simple, but how does this work? In the Buddhist tradition, the vibrations from the repeated sounds stimulates the chemical balance of the brain. They have the power to create a mental or psychological response that is very potent.
While chanting mantras is not always incorporated into a yoga asana class, they can be performed as part of your daily routine (or sadhana). Here are five popular mantras that can transform your life by helping you retrieve energy, restore balance, attract love and remove suffering.
Sanskrit mantras often need to be translated in order to know how to apply them to our lives. Hari Om is a popular mantra because it directly translates to “remove suffering.” As cliché as it sounds, life is a journey and a spectrum of emotions—joy, sorrow, pain and suffering. At some point throughout our lives, we all experience some degree of suffering—whether it’s dealing with a personal issue, such as a breakup, or perhaps coping with a family member’s death. When put into practice, this mantra can be powerful for people coping with feelings of sadness. The next time you find yourself in a less joyous moment, try chanting Hari Om to get you through.
Om Namo Narayanaya
The Om Namo Narayanaya mantra may not be the easiest to pronounce, but the basic translation means “to bow to the resting place of all living entities.” Its focus is humanitarian, connecting the self to others and sending positive vibes outward. It’s a chant for the universe to receive peace, love, health and happiness.
What I love about yoga is that at its very core it embraces self-love and personal growth while also being community-focused. When we’re happy with ourselves, it’s important to express gratitude to others, which is what this mantra can facilitate.
Om Shanti is a mantra every yogi should know and it’s one of my favorites. Why? When you chant Om Shanti, you invite peace and calmness into the self. Sometimes, shanti is chanted three times to represent peace in body, speech and mind.
Today, our lives are busy. Our schedules are packed to the brim. It’s sometimes hard to feel at peace when the world around us is constantly moving. This mantra is powerful because it can help you calm the mind, body and spirit.
(You may be wondering just Why It's So Hard to Achieve Inner Peace.)
Baba Nam Kevalam
Baba Nam Kevalam is a Sanskrit mantra that may be translated as "My most beloved is the only One." It can also be interpreted as meaning “Love is everywhere and is the essence of everything.”
Typically sung within Ananda Marga (a socio-spiritual organization in India that teaches Tantra yoga and meditation), this mantra can be used to help eliminate negative thoughts and reach a spiritual awakening—ultimately leading to santosha. Much like meditation, the repetitive vibrations from this manta can help the mind become less complicated. If you have challenges turning off your brain, especially at night, try this mantra.
(More on this special mantra in Baba Nam Kevalam Mantra.)
Transforming Through Thought
In the wise words of the Buddha, “What we think, we become.” Much like the law of attraction, chanting a mantra that carries a specific meaning—whether it’s infinite love, abundance or peace—can have a profound impact on your life. The only way to know is to try.
(Continue reading more on mantras in Makings of a Mantra: The Basics of Sanskrit's Sacred Syllables & How to Choose Yours.)