Mantras From the Greater Yoga Tradition
Written by AYC instructor, Michael Johnson
I would like to begin by expressing gratitude for my family, for everyone who has supported me over the years, for the opportunity to teach what I love at the Asheville Yoga Center and for all we get to do to help our community.
The term ‘mantra’ can mean many things within the Vedic tradition from which it emerged: spell, consultation, sacred speech, secret, advice, an instrument of thought and resolution.
I find it fascinating how words can change meaning over time. Although we know December as the 12th month, ‘Decem’ literally means the 10th! Nowadays, the word ‘mantra’ often means a phrase that gets repeated like a marketing slogan.
The primary objectives of mantra meditation are to calm, focus and train the mind to reduce suffering and increase well-being. Some examples of secondary objectives can include: transcending identity from thought, staying focused on a resolution and re-identifying as pure consciousness or a tantric deity (Śiva, Vajrayoginī, etc.).
Mantra meditation often begins with sitting and letting the mind run wild at first, then slowly reeling it back in with a mantra. Due to the origin of this tradition, most mantras are in Sanskrit. Yet, resolutions in other languages can be utilized. After the mantra is repeated enough times, the mind tends to shift into meta-awareness (awareness of awareness) becoming more calm, serene and prime for flourishing in a variety of ways.
Choosing a mantra can be a process. You can make one up, you can find one on the internet, you can learn one at a kīrtan or you can be assigned a mantra based on your birth chart. Some traditions have a list of pre-requisites that you must complete in order to qualify for a mantra initiation ceremony. Mantras can range from a single syllable to the length of an entire text like the Heart Sūtra, Yoga Sūtra or the Bhagavadgītā. Click below to download and view twelve examples of mantra from the yoga tradition.
Michael Johnson has been a full-time yoga instructor for nearly two decades and a teacher trainer since 2003. He has traveled to India and studied many styles and traditions from Aṣṭāṅga Vinyāsa, Bhakti, Karma, Jñāna, Jīvamukti, Rāja, and Restorative to Yin. In addition to teaching ten weekly classes, he is a lead instructor for Asheville Yoga Center’s 200-Hour Teacher Training and 300-Hour Advanced Training Programs.
View AYC’s class schedule to see all of Michael’s classes!