By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Can Yoga mantras help us manage anxiety? Anxious thoughts and feelings are very common in our fast-paced world. Many of us often struggle with a long to-do list full of many social and professional obligations. Sometimes, we also struggle with anxious thoughts that arise from memories of traumatic experiences. As these anxious thoughts and feelings become more and more deeply engraved in our minds and bodies, they begin to perpetuate themselves by being more strongly linked together. There are many Yogic techniques for quieting the mind, choosing life-affirming thoughts, and resting in stillness. The repetition of a sacred syllable or mantra is one of these techniques. Gently, and firmly, shifting your thinking patterns towards more uplifting and soothing thoughts will help to calm down your mind, body, and spirit. As your level of anxiety lessens, you will be able to deeply rest and rejuvenate your life force.
Affirmation and Mantra
A positive affirmation will reduce anxiety. Traditional Yoga mantras are sacred syllables or Sanskrit words. It is also known in some spiritual traditions as a “mantram.” A mantra is different from a positive affirmation. The very syllables of a mantra vibrate with the essential energy of divinity. A good example of a very well known mantra is the word, “Om.” According to quantum physicists, “Om” actually vibrates with the same frequency as the zero point field, which is the energetic underpinning of creation. If one has had the experience of receiving an enlivened mantra from an enlightened master, the mantra will be imbued with the divine grace or shakti of both the guru, from whom you receive it, and the blessings of his or her spiritual lineage.
If you do not have a Yoga mantra that has been given to you by a guru or spiritual teacher, you may wish to choose a mantra that resonates deeply with your own spirit and cultural upbringing. There are different mantras from many spiritual traditions. Some may be acceptable, while others may not be, depending on one’s religious beliefs. If one experiences feelings of discomfort, due to his or her religious beliefs, a positive affirmation in one’s native language is the best solution.
Mantra, Affirmation, and Religion
“So Hum” is a Yoga mantra that is often practiced within ashrams, studios, and Yogic circles, which means, “I am that, that I am.” Repeating So Hum allows you to rest in the divinity within your own being. The affirmation: “I am that, that I am” is also a viable solution to rid anxiety. Interestingly, the following words (from God to Moses) can be also be found in the Torah within Exodus 3:14: “Ehyeh asher ehyeh,” which can be translated as: “I Will Be What I Will Be.” In many modern day English-based Christian Bibles, these words can be seen as: “I am that I am” or “I am who I am.”
Traditional Hindu Mantra
“Om Namah Shivaya” is another very well known mantra from the Hindu tradition. It means, “I bow to Shiva.” This mantra honors the divine essence of Shiva within one’s own being and also invokes Shiva’s presence. You may wish to repeat the mantra you have chosen for a period of time before meditation or during a japa walk. It is advised to repeat the mantra once on your in breath and once on your out breath. In this way, your breathing will become deeper and more regular, further easing anxiety.
Never choose a method, which causes anxiety. Everyone has a preference for mantra or for positive affirmation. One of the popular purposes of these two techniques is to release anxiety that comes with daily life. If that is your objective, choose a method that you can live with. Some people have strong objections to practicing traditional Yoga mantras. If that is the case, positive affirmations in your own language will effectively help you purge anxiety from the mind and body, without compromising your religious beliefs. Lastly, for those of you who are religious, prayer helps relieve anxiety and the world needs as much help as possible.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.
Effect of rosary prayer and yoga mantras on autonomic cardiovascular rhythms: comparative study
Luciano Bernardi et al., The BMJ: Research, 2001
by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews
52 Essential Principles of Yoga Philosophy to Deepen your Practice
by Rina Jakubowicz.
A Relaxing Way to De-stress, Re-energize, and Find Balance
by: Gail Boorstein Grossman.
by B.K.S. Iyengar
By Mark Stephens