Intentionality that gives us a direction. Finding a path that is more stable and clear for our mind. When our mind is left untrained, our mind is getting crazy. All the different conversations in our mind, without any technique we get thrown around by those different thoughts. Yoga is that technique for most of us practicing yoga.
Today we speak about mantra. How mantra, the chanting of these sacred verses or word. When i first began yoga it seemed very far out there. Even om ing, i was not really connected to it in a very intimate way. I would do it because that was part of yoga. So i just followed along. But i had not a real relationship to it. And now years later, mantra plays a very specific role for me. I chant at the binning of my classes, with specific purposes in mind. Over the years i have chanted different mantras. And now i do 4 mantra at the beginning of my class.
The first mantra that i do is OM, no need to explain that. It simplifies everything, harmonizes everything. It is the most primordial sound AOM. Chant that 3 times and often I do that in a more beginner friendly class, giving a basics experience. But further to the OM, I chant the Bija mantra for Ganesh which is
Om gam ganapataye namaha (3x)
Mantra consists of two words in sanskrit, MAN which is the mind and TRA which means liberate. Thus in its most literate meaning mantra means to liberate the mind. Bija means a seed. Certain sounds that can not be translated into a literal meaning but have the power to create great trans-formative growth and expansion in humans at the physical, emotional and spiritual level are know as BIJA MANTRA or SEED mantra.
We chant it tree times and each time it gets more heavy, more stable. Again those practices are to more stabilizes the mind, and let all the crazy people of the mind go down and become more quiet more satvic. A yogic state of mind a satvic mind. So this mantra is the bija mantra for Ganesh. And Ganesh is know as the remover of obstacles in the yogic mythology. He is the elephant headed god, with the little body and the trunk. But more than just the remover of obstacles he is know as the gate keeper. And something i have adopted in my personal practice of yoga and applied to the practice for my live, my daily routine is having guardrails that help me stay in line throughout the day to be in my best state. To optimize my state of mind and body. And Ganesh is the gate keeper, I kind of take a leap and make this connection with Ganesh being a guardrail. And the guardrails that i am talking about are things as getting routines in meditation, pranayama, taking things that are putting me in a good place. So the guardrails are keeping me in a good path. And those guardrails are also there to keep other things out. So the guardrail will keep the things inside, inside and the things outside, outside. So guardrails can help us in not always being on the phone, Like digital minimalism. The guardrails will hold you back from doing the things your crazy mind would do. SO the bija mantra for Ganesh is for me the mantra that build for me those good guardrails, he is the gate keeper that would prevent me of doing whatever. But Ganesh is also the problem solver. When we say remover of obstacles, we are actually saying there are obstacles. So when we chant this mantra we are making a declaration saying that we will work with the difficulties, we will work with the obstacles. There are definitely obstacles in my life in my mind. And the practice is a place were we become very conscious about how to solve these problems. Asana can have many problems, shoulders, back, knees, I cant do this, how do you do this. So this approach with mantra is like saying I will take this practice as a chance to work with obstacles and become more creative in my attempt to resolve issues, problems, puzzles. So Ganesh is this gatekeeper, guardrail and problem solver. SO this mantra helps us in building the intent for our practice. It is not like okay.. sit down and lets do the asana, that is still good and it has lots of benefits, but this is slightly deeper. We are building the intent, chanting with this intention, intentionality that i will work with the obstacle, and that I am gone be more committed with those guardrails.
The third mantra is the bija mantra for Sarisvati. Sarasvati is the goddess of Wisdom. I use this one to complement the Ganesh mantra. SO wen we sit down for practice one of the obvious goals is to be wise. To live a life driven by wisdom. We seek wisdom. We dont seek just information, we seek wisdom. Wisdom being this living energy that directs us in the right way in good ways. Wisdom is this enlightend energy that directs us in harmonious, positive, beautiful ways. So when we chant Sarasvatis mantra
Om Ain Sarasvati I namaha
When we chant this mantra, what we are saying is that through this effortful practice be it meditation, whatever we are doing, this practice were we are solving problems, facing challenges, we are really working with who we are, how we are and growing and becoming better. In that, the Sarasvati mantra is from this experience, seeking to know ourself in the deepest level of our own wisdom. And this wisdom is deeper than our thinking mind. So we use these practices to discover who we are be going deeper. Deeper inside like just the muscle deeper like the thinking mind. And often we dont know what that even means deeper. We cant be told what that means, we have to experience it. May I experience a deeper state of wisdom. It isnt coming from instagram or wikipedia, it is not information, it is not like I need to read that book and I ll figure it out, no no. It is a state of deeper widom that exists inside, and we have to slowly penetrate into that place.
And the fourth one is the student/teacher invocation. It represents the partnership between student and teacher. It is that partnership that people need each other to learn. You need someone to look back at you to see a more full view of who we are, because we are always looking out. We cant often see our self or ever see our self. We chant as a way of declaring that we want this relationship. I chant it to connect to my teachers but also to connect with my students. Because a teacher needs their students. The singular component of being a teacher is that you have a student, without that you are not a teacher. So the teacher deeply needs students. And in that the students are the grace of a teacher. The students show us teachers who we are by how they receive our teaching. We have as a teacher this ideal of presenting what we know and want others to know, but then our students show us what they actually learned. So we chant this mantra to connect to our students and as a student to connect to our teacher. And it is a humility prayer. You cant do it alone, that we need each other. And in this mantra we also express that we will go in our practice all the way. We will give our self, we will make it energetic and passionate. And may there be no frustration or negativity between us.