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Mantra and Gratitude

Dear friend,

I hope you had a nice start of the year, that you are healthy and keeping yourself uplifted during these months of winter. I don't know about you, but yoga really helps me keep my mood on the brighter side :)

I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and reflections on my own personal journey on the path of yoga.


There was a time that I felt a strong resistance to chanting Mantras which was a part of many yoga classes that I liked. It appeared to me as a religious ritual that triggered a strong aversion I had towards all religions and anything that resembles a religion. I couldn't comprehend how yoga, which I perceived as an intelligent and wise practice, included this element in it.

I don't remember the exact time when things shifted and I started to let go of my resistance and went along with some chanting. In the beginning I participated with a soft voice practically whispering, and then I slowly got louder and louder. I discovered there was an actual effect which is quite significant that occurred when I released the chamber of my heart and let the sounds of the Mantra vibrate inside it. 

On the most basic level the sheer act of singing, no matter in which language or in what melody, has a variety of effects. Simply opening the mouth and moving sounds through the palate, tongue and teeth, and out into the ether, is creating sensations in the body and works on some level on our nervous system. Maybe that's why so many people enjoy singing, whether on a stage, in karaoke or in the shower. 

From a more scientific point of view - singing stimulates the Vagus nerve that triggers the Parasympathetic nervous system which is a sub division of of the Autonomic nervous system that cultivates relaxation, rejuvenation and digestion among other things.

Also, the words and their meaning resonate in the mind in some capacity. I am not sure it has an immediate impact on changing mental patterns or habitual thinking, but when we repeat a certain phrase or idea enough times we start feeling a change in perception, motivation, reaction, and so on.. Repeating a statement many times creates a new inner narrative that gradually gets ingrained in our psyche.

This trick is so effective that it is obviously used in the advertisement industry commonly using it by it by creating short and catchy phrases and then repeating them continuously to the public in order to drive a desire for a product or experience. It is also used by politicians for propaganda purposes. 

Why not create our own slogans, ones that actually do us good?!

The Sanskrit language was very likely designed specifically for chanting. Knowledge has been passed down for generations through oral recitation as there was no reliable writing surface that could survive the hot humid climate of ancient India. It is a very condensed language made of words that can have a variety of meanings, and it contains specific sounds that allow chanting to be more fluid.

There are a wide variety of Mantras that are used in different yoga schools and traditions, most of them come from ancient Vedic scriptures. Over the years I developed fondness for some of them. Sometimes it is the content of the Mantra that speaks to me, at other times it is the sound or rhythm of it.

Sanskrit experts are happy to speak for hours about how each syllable should be pronounced, when a pause should be taken and how the different tones should have a clear distinction. Chanting can be a bit like a yoga posture, paying attention to the smallest details and finding the right alignment can be fun.

Every day before I start my practice in the morning I take about 5 minutes to chant. I am sure that I am making lots of mistakes that some of these Sanskrit experts would probably roll their eyes (and ears) to. 

In the coming weeks I am going to chant a short Mantra at the end of every class, you are very welcome to join me if you'd like. It is actually a part of a longer Mantra commonly known as "Mangala Mantra" which is often used to close a yoga practice or sacred ritual in the Hindu tradition.

It is taken from an ancient scripture called "Rig-Veda".

"lōkāḥ samastāḥ sukhinōbhavantu"

(Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu)

It means: "May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all."

It is a reminder that practicing yoga is not just a selfish endeavor that we do so we can feel good, it should also be for the good of others. When we become more peaceful and compassionate, radiating joy and kindness, the people circling in our orbit benefit from our company and presence tremendously.

This kind of intention gives it a different quality, yoga practice then becomes an act of altruism.

We close the Mantra with:

"oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ"

(Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi)

Shanti means "peace".

When we chant it three times we wish for peace in body, mind and spirit, in the past, future and present, wishing peace globally, to our community and to ourselves.


At the end of each practice we also take a short moment for gratitude.

From my own experience gratitude is one of the most rewarding practices. It is another method for repatterning some of our default selfish tendencies and fill our heart and mind with contentment, with appreciation for other beings who showed us love and kindness, and for the wonderful blessings in our life. It reminds us that life is essentially a gift, that we are the lucky ones simply for the mere fact that we are alive.

It is also very useful to give gratitude for the things that we don't have, the things that we may feel we are missing in our life, they too are blessings (sometimes in disguise..).

All ingredients in this stew of life have a role to play. They give us immediate benefits or long term ones, they give us satisfaction and pleasure or pain and discomfort. Even things that appear to be undesirable may potentially lead to growth and wisdom. The art of living is the art of enjoying all colors and flavors of experience.

Thank you all for coming to yoga and brightening the room with your presence!

Looking forward to sharing the practice with you and chanting together a bit at the end :)

With love and gratitude,


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