By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Students often ask, “Why do we practice mantras and affirmations?” When teaching Hatha Yoga classes, the modern student is likely to question many aspects of Yoga. Students have to feel results in order to believe in Yogic methods. Until a student feels improvement, he or she may need information to explain why we practice specific techniques.
Some Yogic methods leave students thinking, “Why am I doing this?” Common student questions are something Yoga teachers should be prepared to answer in simplistic terms. Be prepared to hear the following questions, and have answers prepared for them. What are the benefits of mantra and affirmation? What is the value of mantras? What is the value of affirmations?
The common link between mantra and affirmation is that both methods constructively use mind chatter as raw energy. Mind chatter is random and unharnessed energy, which can be focused to train one’s mind. While it is true the mind can be as wild as a monkey, it can also be tamed and trained.
Those who have a trained mind, have a great ally. Those who have a mind, that is out of control, are dealing with internal turmoil, depression, chronic stress disorders, and the physical ailments that follow. The mind is just as important as the body, when we assess complete health.
Mantra is a traditional Yogic method. Some Yoga teachers explain mantra as mystical sounds that can create spiritual transformation. The average student might ask, “Transformation into what?” If you want an effective method to scare away students, who are on the fence about anything spiritual, then by all means, tell them they will be transformed into something else.
Mantra is a Yogic practice, which is beneficial for students who have difficulty concentrating on the present moment. The sound of mantra manages to drown out all of the background noise. This allows the mind to focus on one sound, which brings the mind into the present moment.
Affirmations are universal techniques, which are solemn oaths, or declarations, based upon truth and one’s life objectives. Positive affirmations create a state of mind that can change one’s direction in life for the best. Negative mind chatter is rounded up, and converted into focused thought, by practicing positive affirmations.
There are many variations of positive affirmation, which can be taught in a Hatha Yoga class. After a meditation or pranayama session, students could mentally focus on a message. One example is: “I have absolute control over my thoughts.” This may seem to be a simplistic message, but it beats some of the negative thought that can crop up in one’s mind during the course of a day.
When teaching Yoga classes, some additional methods for focusing are – Brahmari Pranayama, Udgeeth Pranayama, and Meditation – to name a few.
© Copyright – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
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