For many yoga practitioners a mantra is a powerful tool to use to deepen their practice. Sound is particularly powerful and the repetition of sound can help focus the mind on that which is outside of and bigger than yourself.
The mantra below is perfect for any time you need to feel grounded and centered. If you have only 5 minutes, this will still be powerful and effective, but if you have more time – you can invest as long as you need into the mantra as a way to focus energy and attention on what you need most, especially transitions such as the one you will be making into the New Year.
The type of mantra I have created here is a simple and highly effective version of mantra japa (repeating or remembering mantra). With this way of using internal vibration of ‘So-Ham’ we journey from Gross to Subtle, and the mantra will center and focus the mind on an object through the chanting itself.
How to do this mantra:
- Find a comfortable seated position, preferably somewhere where there is natural sunlight, a window open for fresh air ( ideally you want to be not too hot, not too cold) and where you have some quiet and privacy uninterrupted. Turn off the TV, computer, radio and your phone. You can light a candle or some incense if you will not be distracted by the smell. You do not need a candle or incense as you can do this mantra wherever you are and in whatever position, though seated is best.
- Sit with your spine straight and keep your eyes closed to draw your focus inward. Only if you are too sleepy should you keep your eyes opened.
- Take a few long deep inhalations (breath inward) focusing on creating space in the internal body and then with every exhalation (breath outward) focus on releasing any tension, pain or stress – anything that does not serve you right now.
- Roll your shoulders down away from your ears, unlock your jaw and move your tongue so your mouth is relaxed. Feel the earth/mat/ground below your sitting bones which are supporting you. Focus on the sensation of your lungs lifting on the inhale and falling on the exhale. Soften your face, the base of your neck and behind your eyes. You can rest your hands lightly on top of your knees, or in your lap. Keep wrists relaxed.
- For this mantra we begin with So-Ham Pranayama (breathing technique). Whilst seated, bring your focus to your breath. While inhaling think “So”, and whilst exhaling think “Ham- or “Huumm”. With the latter you may observe that this will lengthen the quality of your breathing, which is the goal here.
- Continue the flow of So-Ham and attempt to match the length of your inhale with your exhale so the flow is even. However, do not obsess over this. After feeling confident breathing So-Ham begin to observe the natural pause between your inhale and exhale. This is a pure moment of sweet stillness, a cessation of thoughts between So and Ham. Do not hold your breath here to control or create this but rather observe how it naturally occurs.
- Once you have completed a few rounds of So-Ham breathing you can begin with the mantra.
- Out loud chant, “I am here, I am now, I am here, I am now, I am here, I am now.”
- Repeat for at least 20 rounds at any volume or pitch you like. You can change the volume of your voice to what feels right. Once you get into a rhythm you may find you do not want to stop at 20 rounds so, in that case, keep going until you feel compelled to stop.
- Stay connected to the words and stay present in your body as you chant. Do not zone out or lose connection to what you are doing.
- Once you’ve stopped chanting out loud keep repeating the mantra inside your mind, feeling the sensation of vibrations of your chanting rippling through you and the power of the words settling inside of you.
Benefits of this mantra:
This has the dualistic effect of being both a grounding mantra while also being empowering. From a place of being grounded and anchored in the present you are able to tap into the potential of that moment with no expectations. Often the lead up to a new year is filled with expectations. We place so much pressure on resolutions to shift and change the various parts of ourselves and our lives – and sometimes others – which we feel are inadequate.
We enter with the premise “I am not enough”, “I /my life needs to change because who I am right now or how things are now – is not of any worthy”.
We can also get swept up in the hype of the idea at this time of year that things should or must shift and while change is healthy, often these expectations lead us to over-promise, over-commit and under-deliver, making us feel even more helpless and worthless when we cannot follow through.
Life being fluid is filled with death and rebirth, coming and going. A new year is just another entering and exiting. Having an equanimous mindset and connection to the present, being here and now, anchors us so that we can handle any weather that may come our way both in 2015 and in the rest of our life. We do not need an arbitrary date to make changes that need to take place. We need to be in touch with ourselves so we can see from a place of clarity.
Whatever we enter the new year with is the place we take off from. The year before is gone but the year ahead is also unknown. So all that matters IS as the mantra promises – the here and now.
Australian-born Angela Collins is a yoga teacher based in Berlin. RYS Certified, trained in Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and a graduate of Advanced Teacher Training in Forrest Yoga, Angela is committed to nourishing mind and body both off and on the mat. She has had the privilege of teaching Yoga across the globe in Australia, Thailand, Germany, UK, France and with people of all differing ages, nationalities, and needs. Having trained alongside Mark Stephens, Kathryn Budig, Kino McGregor and Ana. T Forrest, Angela now teaches a number of different Yoga disciplines including Pregnancy Yoga, Yoga for Addicts, Yoga for Athletes, and child Yoga.
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