If you've ever been to a yoga class, chances are you've chanted the mantra "Om" (or listened while the rest of the students chanted). It probably seemed like some sort of weird ritual to mark the beginning or end of the yoga practice. But there's actually a lot more to explore with the healing yogic art of mantra.
A mantra is "a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of 'creating transformation.'" In yoga, mantras are used to focus the mind, and can be chanted silently or aloud. It is especially beneficial when chanted out loud due to the vibrations created through the sounds of the mantra, which are healing to both body and mind.
The vibrational sound of the mantra raises the vibration of the body through repetition. The repetition also focuses the mind and quiets the mental chatter ... which is why for many people, mantra repetition is an effective form of meditation.
One type of mantra practice is kirtan, a call-and-response form of devotional singing. When I first stayed in an ashram in 2005, kirtan was indeed a major part of the transformative experience I had during my 2-week stay. We had morning and evening hour-long kirtan sessions. I'll admit I was resistant at first -- I'm not a big fan of singing, especially in front of other people. But after a few days, I decided it would be easier to just embrace the practice. Over the next few weeks, kirtan became one of my favorite rituals at the ashram.
If you want to explore the healing power of kirtan for yourself, then come on out to the Sacred Song & Kirtan Concert this Friday, July 22nd, at 7pm at the Southtown Yoga Loft (724 S. Alamo, Suite 3 San Antonio, TX, 78205). Music will be led by Texas native Daphne Tse. The event is free, with a suggested donation of $5-10. It is sure to be a heart-opening, vibration-raising community event!
Debby Andersen is a Yoga Teacher in San Antonio, TX. Sign up for Debby’s newsletter here to stay informed about her local classes and workshops.