Definition - What does Japa Yoga mean?
Japa yoga is a very important limb of yoga. As the name suggests, it combines yoga with japa, the meditative mantra repetition, or the repetition of a name of divine power. It is believed that practicing Japa yoga removes the impurities of the mind, destroys sins and ultimately results in samadhi, or communion with God, when practiced regularly.
Students can choose the mantra by themselves or they can receive it from their teacher/guru. Either way, it is recommended to stick to one mantra for life in order to deepen one's practice. The personal mantra should remain private and not disclosed to others.
The repetitions of one's mantra can be counted using beads known as japa mala. The number of beads in the japa mala is usually 108 and the mantra should be repeated from 108 to 1,080 times daily.
Yogapedia explains Japa Yoga
Japa is an exact science, but it is simple to practice. It is just a matter of repeating a mantra while maintaining an attentive awareness of its sound. Japa is not connected to Sanskrit and Hinduism only. Many spiritual traditions use the practice of repeating songs and prayers, such as the Hebrew Shalom, Aramaic Maranatha or Christian Ave Maria.
Japa is a Sanskrit word derived from the root jap, meaning "to repeat quietly and internally." Likewise, Japa yoga can be practiced verbally or mentally. Repeating the mantra out loud has the advantage of shutting out external wordly sounds. This is called vaikhari japa. The next stage, as the mind becomes more focused, is a whispering or humming repetition, called upamsu japa. Finally, the practitioner reaches silent mental repetition, or manasika japa. This is the most powerful form. Another type of japa is likhita japa, which is writing of the mantra.
When practicing Japa yoga, all the mantra repetitions are considered moments of connection with the true Self. When the mind adjusts to the vibration of a mantra, it awakens and becomes thoughtful. Practicing Japa yoga can also help improve concentration, problem solving and overall health.