I love when our yoga practice becomes practical, when we can take the tools we learn into our life off the mat and feel a shift in our usual behavior.
One of the most transformative tools yogis have discovered are Mantras. And here is my story of how I used one of the most powerful ones to connect to the light: the GAYATRI.
But let’s first take a look at Mantras and what they are. It’s a very old practice to chant or recite mantras and in combination with the sound vibrations they have a very powerful effect on the mind and psyche of the individual. Mantras are written in Sanskrit, regarded as one of the oldest languages known to us, and also called the mother of all languages or the sacred language of the gods.
Don’t be put off by Sanskrit when you look at it first and think you will never understand or get it, nor will you ever be able to pronounce or chant it! Mantras are like a lullaby and first you learn chanting by call and response and pretty soon you might find it singing in your head all the time.
Mantras are usually passed on to you by a teacher, like that they are said to keep their vibration alive. A teacher might give you a personal private one for your own meditation practice or he will initiate a mantra to a group of his followers. When you chant it loud it is powerful, when you chant it with a lower voice it becomes 10.000 times more powerful, when you whisper it another 10.000 times more powerful and the most potent way is to chant it silently.
The Gayatri Mantra was passed on to me by two of my wonderful teachers, Rod Stryker and Banyan Gallagher. There are many ways to chant it, but I stick to the way they taught me and it’s still my favourite melody. You can find a video where I chant it the way that I learned it here. You can also find versions of the mantra online (here is a gorgeous one accompanied by my friend Masood Ali Khan with the Hang).
The meaning of the Gayatri is very simple: It’s an invocation to the light, the sun, this powerful energy source that is always there and it reminds us to find ways to connect to that light.
I have used the mantra in my retreats and turned on many students to chant it. I have also used it in situations where I was really freaked out and this is where it comes in super practical!
Once I sat on the back of my partner Daniel’s motorbike and we were riding in Switzerland on a freeway through some heavy traffic and on top entering a very long tunnel (something very common in Switzerland). I felt myself tensing up on the back with fear. I could almost not breathe anymore
Then all of sudden I remembered the Gayatri and started chanting it below my helmet. Nobody could hear me, I chanted it over and over to myself, and I swear within seconds my body started to relax and surrender. I remembered to be present and lean in to Daniel, trust his driving and that soon enough we would make it out of the tunnel….and we did.
Since then I have had numerous challenging situations like walking over hanging bridges or sitting in a tiny chairlift (I am very afraid of heights) going up the mountain, where I remember the Gayatri and start chanting it. And luckily if I am so tense and nervous that I forget, Daniel will be chanting it with me to remind me. It’s been a life saver!
Wanna give it a try? Let us know in the comments below if you already have a mantra practice and what it looks like. Yoga is more than a physical practice, it’s a wonderful box of tools you can rely on in all kinds of situations in life, not just on the mat. What are your favourite yoga tools?
Dagmar is the founder and director of Montezuma Yoga in Costa Rica. She left Germany 20 years ago to follow her dreams and longing for a different life, the sea and palm trees. Through her own experience she believes that everybody can live their dreams and that our work is to become clear and open to receive the gifts we all deserve. She is a 500hr E-RYT and has trained for over 20 years in Vinyasa Flow and Yin Yoga. Read full bio...