Mantras are sacred syllables, words, or phrases that are chanted or repeated in yoga and meditation practices. They are a form of sound vibration that is believed to have a powerful effect on the body and mind.
These sacred verses can be in Sanskrit or other languages, and they carry different meanings and intentions depending on the tradition or practice. Mantras are powerful tools that have been used in yoga for thousands of years. Indeed, all the sacred texts of India, such as the Vedas, the Upanishad and the Sutras, are meant to be sung (UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Vedic chant a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity on November 7, 2008).
So all the ancient texts we study in yoga were chanted and this is because, singing a mantra audibly or mentally, is an effective way to focus and calm the mind, invoke specific qualities or energies, and create a meditative state of awareness. The first information about yoga that we can learn from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is in fact, that yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind (“yogas chitta vritti nirodha” YS 1.2).
In Ravi Marga Yoga, we use mantras that are not religious in nature but rather focus on the universal principles of peace, harmony, and connection with the world around us. These mantras are designed to help us tune into the vibrations of the universe and cultivate a deeper sense of mindfulness and awareness.
Chanting mantras also has a profound effect on our physical and mental well-being. Research has shown that the repetitive sound vibrations of mantras can stimulate the production of beneficial hormones and chemicals in our bodies, such as serotonin and dopamine, leading to reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. When chanting AUM, we tone our vagus nerve (also known as our self-healing nerve) too.
The most important sound, according to the yoga tradition, is the OM (also known as Omkaram and often written as AUM). It is considered the primordial sound from which the entire universe originated. It is a sacred syllable that represents the divine, the universe, and the interconnectedness of all beings. In our yoga practice, chanting OM is not religious in nature, but rather a way to connect with the universal energy and tap into our inner selves.
The OM chant has many physiological and energetic benefits. Physiologically, chanting OM has been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. It can also help regulate breathing and the blood pressure, creating a sense of harmony and balance in the body.
Energetically, chanting OM is believed to create a special vibrational environment that can help tune into higher frequencies and create a unique atmosphere for the yoga practice.
In Yoga Sutra 1.27 (tasya vāchakaḥ praṇavaḥ), Patanjali says that Om (also named “pranavah”) is the essence of everything. In Sutra 1.28 (taj-japas tad-artha-bavhanam) he continues telling us that the repetition of the Om chant is the contemplation of its referent (the everything) and ultimately a very powerful practice (sadhana). It allows the yogi to connect deeply with the everything, and so with the true inner self.
Again, it is not necessarily religious in nature, but can be seen as a way to connect with something higher than oneself, such as the perfection of nature, the mystery of the universe, or the universal consciousness.
We want to share a couple of mantras that we usually use before and after the yoga practice.
You will find the videos on how to chant and the meaning below:
Saha Navavatu Mantra
“om sahana vavatusaha nau bhunaktu saha viryam karavavahai tejasvi navadhitamastu
ma vidvishavahaiom shantih shantih shantih”
The Saha Navavatu mantra is derived from the ancient scripture called the Taittiriya Upanishad, which is a part of the Yajur Veda, one of the oldest texts of the Hindu scriptures (about 6th century BC). The Taittiriya Upanishad is a philosophical and spiritual text that expounds on various aspects of life, including the nature of the self, the universe, and the ultimate reality.
The Saha Navavatu mantra is a traditional Vedic mantra that is often chanted at the beginning of a learning session or spiritual gathering to invoke blessings and protection. It is typically recited in Sanskrit and translates to “May we both be protected together, may we both be nourished together, may we both work together with great energy, may our study be enlightening and fruitful, may we not have any animosity towards each other.” It is considered a mantra of peace, unity, and mutual support, emphasizing the importance of harmonious relationships and cooperative efforts.
The Saha Navavatu mantra is widely used in educational institutions, spiritual gatherings, and yoga classes as a way to set a positive intention, create a harmonious environment, and invoke blessings for the collective well-being of all present. It is considered a powerful mantra that promotes unity, cooperation, and positive energy among individuals, fostering a spirit of inclusivity and harmony.
Omkaram Bindu Samyuktam
“omkaram bindu samyuktam
nityam dhyayanti yoginahkamadam mokshadam chaiva
omkaraya namo namah
om shantih shantih shantih“
The Omkaram Bindu Samyuktam mantra is associated with the Rudra Yamala, which is a tantra text that is part of the esoteric teachings of Tantra Yoga (about 1st century CE).
The translation is the following:
The first verse symbolizes the unification of individual consciousness (bindu) with the universal consciousness (omkraram, or simply OM) where the bindu represents the focal point of concentrated energy or consciousness that is integrated with the cosmic sound Om, which is considered to represent the ultimate reality.
The yogis constantly meditate or contemplate this unification through the cosmic sound OM.
This practice of meditating on the unification of individual consciousness with universal consciousness through Om can lead to the fulfillment of desires as well as liberation from the cycle of birth and death according to the yoga philosophy. Lastly, Omkaraya Namo Namah is a reverential salutation to the sound Om which is considered the primordial sound of the universe, representing the ultimate reality.
This mantra is likely to be associated with tantric traditions that have been transmitted orally within a particular lineage. Tantric traditions, including Kundalini Yoga and Tantra Yoga, often involve esoteric practices and teachings that are passed down orally from guru to disciple, and may not be widely published or available in written texts.
Due to the oral transmission and secretive nature of tantric practices, mantras, and teachings, some mantras, including “Omkaram Bindu Samyuktam”, may be considered rare or limited to specific lineages or practitioners.
Always free to chant audibly or mentally. Chanting mentally is also very powerful.
Chanting the AUM or any other sacred mantra in our yoga practice can help us connect with the deeper aspects of ourselves and the universe, quieting the mind and allowing us to tap into our inner wisdom and intuition.
We encourage you to approach the mantra chant with an open heart and mind, and experience the transformative power it can bring to our yoga practice and our lives.