What is Mantra Yoga? Benefits and Types of Mantra Chanting

mantra yoga
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Translate as ‘Man‘ means mind and ‘tra‘ means a vehicle, A mantra is any word, phrase, or sound that helps to keep your mind focused.

The practice of yoga mantras consists of chanting sacred words, hymns, or a syllable to unite with supreme consciousness.

What is Mantra Yoga?

Mantra yoga is one of the 6 branches of yoga which includes chanting of potential syllables, verses, or Vedic hymns to attain one of the limbs of yoga, i.e. Pratyahara. Like other forms of yoga, the aim of mantra yoga is to attain ultimate salvation.

Getting into the terminology of “Mantra Yoga”, divides it into two words, “Mantra” and “Yoga” which are intradisciplinary aspects. This is so because mantra and yoga complement each other and that is the main intention behind this practice.

Yoga is practiced to unite with the supreme soul and that’s only possible if you can control the wandering of mind and reach higher states of consciousness. This is achieved through chanting and repeating the mantra over and over again, similarly, chanting is performed only with the same intention of yoga.

Origin of Mantra yoga

The origin of Mantra Yoga has been traced back to Vedas and tantra. Facts predict that yoga actually came into being in the form of mantra yoga. The primary teachings of it are mentioned in the Rig Veda.

Mantra Yoga is much more than a spiritual practice as the science behind it makes a contribution to ancient enlightened sages of Sanatana Dharma. Since each verse or hymn in the Vedas has a unique vibration that echoes with the sounds of universal consciousness which leads the practitioner to divinity.

Originally, Mantra yoga was adapted in Hinduism, however, religions Buddhism and Jainism have also adapted to it to reach enlightenment.

As it was mentioned earlier that in mantra yoga, certain syllable or verse is repeated over and over again to deepen and catalyze the practice of yoga. This process of repeating the mantra is known as Japa, hence, mantra yoga sometimes also referred to as Japa Yoga.

The Elements

mantra yoga elements
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Mantra yoga is incomplete without fulfilling the requirements of mantras that are broadly divided into five parts. Besides this, there are 16 limbs of mantra yoga that are required for its successful accomplishment.

1. Parts of Mantra

The five basic requirements of a Mantra are described below that include Rishi (Seer), Chhanda (meter), Devta (deity), Bija (seed), and Tattva (element).

  1. Rishi (Seer) – The seer or sage is the ancient spiritual teacher who discovered the mantra for the first time by hearing or realizing the sounds in higher consciousness. The sage then becomes a medium who passes the mantra to further followers in the world.
  2. Chhanda (meter) – A meter is something that describes the pronunciation, rhythm, and the way of recitation to please the deity associated with that mantra. Hence every mantra is prepared traditionally with a specific meter associated with it.
  3. Devta (deity) – Each mantra has a specific deity presiding over it who is called upon through the chanting. The practitioner by chanting the mantra attracts and assimilates the consciousness and qualities of the presiding deity.
  4. Bija (seed) – Bija is an essence of the mantra which grants special power to it. It is the seed of a mantra that enables the stimulation of the energy centers located in the human body. Therefore, bija is an essential element to see the fruition of the mantra.
  5. Tattva (element) – An element is a key to unlock the intended results behind the mantra. It can be understood by the fact that every mantra possesses the nature of a five-elements and one of 3 gunas (such as Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas).

2. Limbs of Mantra Yoga

Just like in Patanjali’s Yoga there 8 limbs which lead to Samadhi, there are 16 limbs of Mantra yoga knowing which is essential to get fruitful results from this practice.

The 16 limbs of mantra yoga are – Bhakti, Shudhi, Asana, Panchang Sevan, Achara, Dharna, Divyadesh Sevan, Prana Kriya, Mudra, Tarpana, Havan, Bali, Yaga, Japa, Dhayana, and Samadhi.

A clear idea describing all the limbs are given below to make the concept easier for the practitioner, so let’s begin:

  1. Bhakti – The foremost aspect of mantra yoga is having faith or devotion in the practice, that’s what bhakti denotes. It is impossible to manifest mantra yoga without having complete and unshakable faith over the practice.
  2. Shudhi – Shudi refers to purification, which in yoga mantra means internal cleansing of body, mind, and spirit. Also, the place dedicated to the practice and the intention behind it must be pure as well.
  3. Asana – Asana refers to the posture that the practitioner attains while practicing mantra yoga. It also denotes the seat on which the yogi sits like woolen, kusha, Resham, Mriga-charma, baghambar, blanket, etc. are considered preferable stuff to sit on.
  4. Panchang Sevan – It is the collection of Gita, Sahasranam, Stuti, Kavach, and Hridayanyas.
    • Gita is the sacred text which is sung or taken excerpts from to chant.
    • Sahasranam is experiencing the vastness of the supreme soul.
    • Stuti refers to worshipping and associating the supreme being with the heart.
    • Kavach denotes protection from the hurdles that are achieved by sadhana.
    • Hridayanyas is entering the mysteries of the mantra through the heart.
  5. Achara – It shows the conduct of the practitioner behind the practice. It must have significant moral values and away from any bad influence.
  6. Dharana – This limb is about the concentration of the mind in the present moment.
  7. Divyadesh Sevan – It is about developing self-identification during the practice. It is achieved by establishing Prana Shakti (Energy) in 16 vital points of the body during the yoga mantra.
  8. Prana Kriya – The practice of regulating the breath by getting control over inhalation, retention, and exhalation is known as Prana Kriya or Pranayama.
  9. Mudra – It is the hand gesture describing devotional, aesthetic, emotional, or psychic attitude while chanting.
  10. Tarpana – It represents the libation or offering special ingredients, flowers, etc. to please the deity.
  11. Havan This is the offering to the deity by burning the fire of Yagya, which represents feeding the lord in fire form. Mantra yoga cannot complete without Havan.
  12. Bali – Bali refers to sacrifice or surrender of negativity which are beyond control. It is performed by sacrificing evils like pride, lust, anger, and any other evil habits and practices.
  13. Yaga – This limb is about worshipping the deity wholeheartedly.
  14. Japa – It refers to repeated chanting of mantra as whispered, vocalized, or mental repetitions. Generally, a Mala with 108 beads are used to keep track of the rounds in Japa. Japa Mala could be of tulsi, rudraksha, rakta-chandan, shweta chandan, and crystal. It is used to keep the mind anchored to the practice.
  15. Dhyana – Higher and deeper state of concentration is meditation or dhyana, Here, it refers to image meditation, where the aspirant must be able to get a glimpse of the Lord on the third eye with closed eyes.
  16. Samadhi (trance) – Samadhi is the state of complete absorption of self with the supreme self. In this state, the practitioner realizes the eternal self aka akhand swaroop in Sanskrit.

How to Practice Mantra Yoga?

how to practice mantra yoga
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To practice mantra yoga, the important step is to draw honesty (Satya) into the practice that signifies the dedication of the practitioner.

Another thing that has to be there before starting the chant is to surrender in the mantra which can be done by trusting in the practice. It is the faith in the practice that leads to the intended results which seem far beyond one’s potential.

After honesty and faith within yoga mantra, the following procedure can be followed to implement the practice:

  • Find a comfortable place that is away from any distractions or disturbances to practice seated meditation.
  • Choose your mantra and then sit quietly for a moment contemplating your intentions with a conviction.
  • Inhale deeply and then while exhaling recite your mantra as naturally as it rhymes with the exhalation.
  • Take another deep breath and repeat the mantra and feel the moment organically.
  • On the third repetition, recollect the intention behind the particular mantra that you are chanting.
  • On the fourth repetition, you need to relax the mind and body and feel the sound of the mantra.
  • On the next repetition, let the chant happen automatically with the flow where you don’t utter it forcibly.
  • Repeat again and again combining all the elements together focusing on the sound and meaning of the mantra and easing your expectations.
  • Keep chanting for about 30 rounds or until you calm the mind within the practice.
  • Sit in complete silence for a while that you have generated with the chant cleansing the nervous system.

Alternatively, mantra yoga can also be done in a group aka Sangh wherein one leader introduces the mantra to the rest of the assembly.

Types of Chanting in Mantra yoga

types of mantra chanting
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There are 14 types of chanting in Mantra Yoga, out of which three are considered superior or popular among all the practitioners, namely, Speech Chanting (Baikhari), Low-pitched Chanting (Upanshu), and Mental Chanting (Manasic).

Let’s have a glance at all the 14 types of chanting in mantra yoga as given below:

  1. Speech Chanting – It is the practice of chanting the mantra loudly to focus completely over the sutra and its resonating sound. It removes undesirable thoughts, stabilizes the mind to reach meditative states, especially helpful for a beginner.
  2. Low-pitched Chanting – It is a way of mantra yoga that is audible to the practitioner only as the chant is vague that only involves lip-movement while recitation.
  3. Mental Chanting – Here, the mantra is chanted silently in the mind without actually uttering it through the mind. This is usually practiced by advanced or enlightened yogis.
  4. Nitya Japa It is the practice of mantra yoga which is performed every day with consistency.
  5. Kamya Chanting – When the yogi practice Japa yoga for the sake of their own desires, then it is Kamya chanting.
  6. Naimitik Chanting – Here, the practice is focused on someone else’s favor or sake.
  7. Immovable Chanting – As the name clears it all, in this type, the sound limbs or mouth do no move at all. The mantra is recited internally and it is practiced by bringing the body in complete stillness.
  8. Atonement Chanting – When mantra yoga is adapted for atoning or to get rid of some crime, offense, or sins that incurred to mind accidentally, then such chanting is known as atonement chanting.
  9. Running Japa – This is the practice of mantra yoga where the chant continues while sitting, eating, sleeping keeping the tongue and lips in motion. It can also use a garland that also moves around the fingers while chanting.
  10. Akhand Chanting – In this practice, the chanting continues without any break or intervals in between.
  11. Ajapa Chanting – This is a method of practicing mantra yoga that doesn’t involve any effort, as the chant occurs in a flow just like breathing. Therefore, such chant takes place as long as there is prana or breath in the body.
  12. Bhramar chanting – Here, the mantra chanting is done imitating the humming of a bee.
  13. Pradakshina Chanting Pradakshina is a sacred rotation around a temple, deity, or any sacred grove. So, the chanting that is practiced while doing the pradakshina is known as pradakshina chanting.
  14. Prohibited Chanting – When someone intends to harm others or chant with an impure intention that doesn’t have any rhythm or is very intense, then it is prohibited chanting. Such chanting is totally fruitless.

Benefits of Mantra Yoga

Mantra yoga is a great practice synchronizing the body, mind, and soul. Mantras that are chanted in this practice are associated with sacred powers and the hymns or vibrations have certain effects on the body’s energy centers, thus there are numerous benefits arising from mantra yoga.

These help to uplift the energy states improves well-being and enhances the manifestation of yoga. The major benefits of mantra yoga are listed below.

  1. Each mantra has its own vibration which helps in cleansing the body internally, i.e. targets the cleansing of negative emotions like jealousy, arrogance, fear, or confusion.
  2. Mantra yoga is an effective practice to harmonize the Doshas (Vatta, Pitta, and Kapha) and stimulates the flow of Amrita (nectar of divine bliss) from crown chakra towards the root chakra.
  3. It increases the sense of awareness, concentration levels, and control over the mind.
  4. Chanting a mantra with dedication and concentration helps the practitioner to absorb the qualities of the presiding deity of that particular mantra.
  5. While practicing mantra yoga, the mind revolves around the hymn and the positive vibrations that help in harnessing mindfulness. Thus, it helps in inculcating positivity within the practitioner towards life and the world around him.

Conclusion

Yoga mantra is your go-to practice if you want to take your yoga into next level getting control over your mind. In this hectic and stressful lifestyle mantra yoga is a blissful and sacred practice that unlocks real happiness, positivity, and coordinates the mental and physical health.

Have faith while practicing mantra yoga and achieve everything in life experiencing the protection from the supreme soul and take your yoga journey into advance levels.

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