Most of you know I have been going through my Yoga Teacher Training course, and we have started to delve more deeply into mantras. I had heard about mantras before, but the concept always somewhat escaped me. It seemed as though I would be chanting something that, honestly, would be going against some of my core beliefs. I kind associated them with something a cult would be doing, and honestly it felt a little uncomfortable.
As I learned more about them, though, I realized that they were, in a sense, a sort of type of visualization. The phrases or words are to be said over and over again, establishing something internally that would then carry out externally – or at least that was the goal (and only one part of what mantras can bring to the table).
Let me back up…
When I worked for Absolute Wellness, one of the programs that we would teach was on stress reduction, and we talked about utilizing visualization in order to achieve relaxation. Visualization for success is one element that many have heard of and that many athletes utilize as well. An article in The New York Times called “Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training” said that many athletes claim that visualization is key in both training and competition (find article here). For example, before a race or a jump, athletes would “see” the course or the jump before they started, and it would have an incredibly positive effect. Even if they didn’t accomplish what they had visualized, it would offer support in times of fear. Emily Cook, a veteran American aerialist said, “I don’t think I could possibly do a jump, or especially a new trick, without having this imagery process…for me, this is so very key to the athlete I have become.”
This morning I was feeling slightly out of control, like being hurled in a hundred different directions with no real sense of where the ground was. In addition, I had a sense of inadequacy – that I didn’t know enough to be writing this blog and telling others my thoughts…that I should study more and learn more before I have any authority on the subject. That thought then led me to ask myself how much was enough and the concept of how long I would have to study was overwhelming. So begins the spiral.
I am sure you have all been there at one point or another. Truth is, what I was experiencing was quite simple. I was thinking about the future again, not staying present, and I was worried about what should be and not be. So, lying in my first Child’s Pose, I decided to give this whole mantra thing a try. Inhale – I am present. Exhale – I am enough. Inhale – I am present. Exhale – I am enough. By the time we were done with our Sun A’s, I was already feeling a bit more grounded, and because I was connecting the mantras to my breath I was building some awesome internal heat. I can’t say I was totally fixed by the end, and I had to come back to that once or twice as I lost it throughout my practice (my mind tends to wander during hip opening poses) but I certainly was in a better state-of-mind to finish my day than what I was before.
I’m curious. What mantra(s) do you use when you are feeling “off?” Please comment below, as I would love to hear how they have helped you!
My hope for you today, and every day, is that you Be You. Fearlessly.
**If you would like to learn more about mantras, check out Yoga Journal’s article below.