By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Some fitness oriented Yoga instructors do not teach mantras. There are many reasons for this disconnection with traditional Yoga teachings. Among these beliefs is a philosophy that believes words are cheap, but action is everything. The problem with this philosophy is that it fails to recognize that words cause action.
A mantra is often associated with a personal phrase or word that is repeated over and over. Many people practice mantras in challenging or stressful situations to calm the mind. The word mantra literally means, “To free from the mind.” Ideas about mantra are included in the early Yogic texts called the Vedas. The Vedas explain that all ideas remain unrealized until they are spoken aloud. Like other Yoga techniques, mantras contain a complex history. New Yoga teachers do not need to be experts on mantra, but they should know the basics and they should be prepared to engage in life-long journey of continuing education.
The most basic definition of a spoken word is that it is an energy-based sound. When you speak a mantra, your voice creates vibrations, which form into sounds, which create a word that carries meaning. Words are also usually spoken with intent, which creates another layer on top of the sound layer.
All of the body’s systems and organs have a consciousness of their own. When a mantra is repeated, the vibrations travel through the body. If the vibrations are powerful enough, they can affect the other parts of the body over time, creating a larger vibration that encompasses the entire body and causes a slight change in the overall system.
Tool for Purpose
Repeating a mantra can be a powerful tool to free the mind, which often releases undue stress and anxiety throughout the entire body. When you repeat a mantra with intent, the mind is able to expand and see a greater purpose in life, instead of getting hung up on all of the day-to-day nonsense that is so easy to get caught in.
Mantras and Affirmations are Personal
Yoga instructors should teach students that mantras must be personal and inspiring for each individual. Mantras are not a one-size-fits-all technique. It should be something that inspires you, calms you, or something you believe in. The Gayatri mantra is possibly the most well known of them all.
Modern affirmations can include, “I will find a solution,” “Love surrounds me,” or “Let it go.” You can speak an affirmation or a mantra out loud, or repeat it in your head if you are in a public space. Over time, repeating any mantra can calm you quickly, lower blood pressure, and regulate your breathing. Mantra is also a very good practice for concentration during meditation.
Although an intern may learn many mantras in Yoga teacher training, some fitness facilities may not embrace them.
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