WindmillBy Paul Jerard

In all religions, it is believed singing or chanting prayers, hymns, or Japa, will bring about salvation. Within the Vedas, the verses are also called mantras. To go a bit further, every religion practices a form of Mantra or Japa. If you have been to a church, temple, shrine, ashram, or mosque, you will hear prayers, chanting, and singing.

So, what happened to the concept that Yoga is not a spiritual practice? Well, it is, but some popular physical forms do not address spiritual health. Pilates is a popular “Yoga off shoot” that does not address spiritual health. Some of the contemporary Hatha Yoga styles do not contain much spiritual benefit. I teach Chair Yoga classes for physical and mental benefits only. However, as you can see, by what you have previously read, many of the main Indian Yoga styles do address mental, physical, and spiritual health.

The main point is that these forms of Yoga are not threatening to any religion at all. Yoga can be practiced by anyone of any religion, without the worry of a conflict. Now, if you are an atheist, you may prefer to practice a form of Yoga that will not enhance your spiritual health. It is every Yoga student’s prerogative to choose a style of Yoga or a Guru that fits his or her needs. However, if you ever find a Guru who does not embrace spiritual health, what does that tell you?

Let’s look at a few other points of interest found in Mantra Yoga. The Mantra Yogi has three methods of practice. They are Balkhari, Upanshu, and Manasik.

The Balkari method is chanting in a voice that can easily be heard. The immediate benefit is to withdraw into meditation easily. It is much easier to meditate when you can remove outside thoughts, problems, and concerns.
The Upanshu form of chanting is performed in a low voice similar to a whisper.

The Manasik form of chanting is one of my personal favorites and can be performed mentally. Some consider this to be difficult, but it does lead to higher states of consciousness. Since this is such a “low key” form of Japa, you can easily fit it into your busy day. If you pray in silence during the day, you have already practiced in this way.

Some Mantra Yogis use a Rosary or “Mala.” Most of the Malas that I have seen have 109 beads. The 109th offset bead is known as a Sumeru or Guru. This is where Japa begins and ends. Also worthy of note, is that Roman Catholics use a Rosary for prayers and meditation. This is also a deeply spiritual practice. The Mala or Rosary has been a helpful tool for enhancement of spiritual health regardless of which culture you are from or which religion you practice.

© Copyright 2006 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications

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