Sandy's Yoga Blog

Adding Mantra to Your Practice

Most of the music that I play in class is mantra — ancient Sanskrit chants or hymns — set to soft, melodious music. I also listen to mantras accompanied by rousing drum beats or cool, funky rhythms. And if you’ve never attended a live kirtan, you should: The energy raised by the call and response of mantra must be felt to be believed. I once attended a puja where we chanted the 1,000 names of God. By the end, the energy in the air and in our bodies was electric. We were awake all night, extremely alert but happy and relaxed. The conversations ran deep. The power of mantra had left its mark.

According to yogic scholar, Georg Feuerstein, a mantra is “a sacred sound charged with psychospiritual power used as a vehicle of meditative transformation.” Some form of chanting has been used in rituals and ceremonies since the Stone Age. The universe is in a perpetual state of vibration; sound is a form of vibration; and the ancient Sanskrit language has a special vibrational quality. All of this vibration makes mantra yoga an effective practice in itself. It replaces “busy thoughts” with sacred sounds, and the vibrational and energetic qualities embedded in the words can help clear out old gunk in the mind and bring you to a new state of consciousness.

Meditation in Motion

Practice as you are guided from within.
Feel for the unspoken, settle into the stillness,
and slowly you will release the burdens
from your tissues.
The knots within will loosen, and the pressures will ease.

 -- unknown (if you know the author, please let me know so I can give credit.)

Practice as you are guided from within... This is usually how my home practice works. If you're new to yoga, this is difficult, but once you've practiced to the point of being able to connect inside, or as I like to say, "tap into the soul," this type of practice will serve you well. At Kripalu, they call it meditation in motion, and I absolutely love it. Here's how it works for me: 

I start out seated on my meditation cushion and go into dirgha and ujjayi breath. I get into a meditative state, and I don't move until I feel moved from the inside. I don't think about what to do -- I keep my mind in the background so that my entire practice arises spontaneously. It's different every time -- sometimes gentle, sometimes very vigorous, sometimes lots of inversions or lots of twists or long holds, sometimes lots of spontaneous pranayama. It's always a surprise, and it's always just what my body needs. Meditation in motion is considered an advanced practice, so if it doesn't come easily to you, don't worry. As Pattabhi Jois always said, "Practice, and all is coming."

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