5 Yoga Mantras To Memorize
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Memorizing mantras in Sanskrit can sometimes be challenging and intimidating. When I went through my YTT I remember closing my eyes and chanting words quietly under my breath in fear that someone would hear my wrong pronunciation. The good news: I didn't have to memorize every word of a sonnet-length mantra to graduate, and you as a practitioner of yoga don't need to either in order to achieve positive results. Even single-word mantra—like Om—can be powerful.
Think of a mantra as a mental instrument that fine-tunes your yoga practice. “Incorporating mantras into practice can help to make it sacred and take it out of the realm of the physical and into a higher state of awareness,” says Zoë Slatoff-Ponté, author of Yogavataranam: The Translation of Yoga.
Mantras unite sound, body, and mind. They can be extremely peaceful, empowering, or even balancing depending on which ones you use. Most teachers will choose a mantra that has been unlocked by the sages for everyone to use, and that fits the theme of their asana practice. Mantra chanting is commonly seen at the beginning of yoga practice, but you can use mantras anywhere and at any time. Pick a word, phrase, or invocation and chant it in a way that works for you: loudly, softly, or even internally. Shorter mantras should be chanted 108 times and longer mantras are commonly chanted 3 times. In any case, allocate a few minutes to focus your attention solely on the sound.
Here is a list of mantras I've used and loved. (P.S In the past, I have used YouTube and other meditation apps to help me memorize and hear the correct pronunciations.)
You've probably heard this mantra before. OM is incredible for many reasons. Om is said to be the first sound heard at the creation of the universe. When each syllable is pronounced fully, you should feel the energy of the sound lifting from your pelvic floor all the way up through the crown of your head. The droning sound of the Om is said to unblock the throat chakra, which can lead to more attuned communication with others.
Shanti Mantra -
A chant for peace. Pronunciation: sarvesham svastir bhavatu | sarvesham shantir bhavatu | sarvesham purnam bhavatu | sarvesham mangalam bhavatu ||
The translation of this mantra is the reason why I chant it. It's beautiful.
Translation: May there be well-being for all, May there be peace for all. May there be wholeness for all, May there be happiness for all.
The Gayatri Mantra -
This is one of the oldest Sanskrit mantras known. It speaks to the unity of all creation, despite its many forms. Chanting it invokes the light of the sun and helps us to transcend suffering. This was one of the first mantras I ever listened to and memorized. I still catch myself humming it's pleasant rhythm while I'm getting ready in the morning. Pronunciation: Om bhur bhuvah svah | tat savitur varenyam | bhargo devasya dhimahi | dhiyo yo nah prachodayat || Translation: We meditate on the glory of the creator who has created the universe; who is worthy of worship; who is the embodiment of knowledge and light; who is the remover of all sin. and ignorance; may s/he enlighten our intellect.
Neti, Neti -
Translation: Not this, Not this. The phrase is a way to rebut something—be it harsh words or a situation in your life you would like to change.
Ram is to be repeated internally 108 times. There is no need to verbally speak this mantra to reap its benefits. I recommend using mala beads for this specific mantra. It aids in strength, divine light, positivity, and confidence. It's also been known to help balance and awaken the 3rd chakra.
During my YTT I was assigned a mantra from my yoga teacher. Our assignment was to practice the mantra daily with or without mala beads. What started off to be an assignment on my to-do list turned into one of my favorite parts of my day. I now enjoy listening to mantras and attending local song circles. Mantras have become a huge part of my everyday life and the way I practice yoga.
Once you find a trusted yoga teacher, open up to them about mantras. A great teacher can help you with pronunciation and recommend a mantra meant for you. Start where you're at and watch yourself grow into a chanting guru! :)