There was a time when students did what their Guru said and did not ask questions. There was a time when women did what they were told and did not ask questions. Well, those days are past and people are empowered to question traditional methods and guidelines in modern classes. One question that certified yoga teachers hear often is, "Why do we practice mantras?" As an instructor, you should be prepared to give a logical answer.
What are the Benefits of Mantra?
Mantra practice is one of the oldest and most powerful concepts that yogic methodology has to offer. It is also one of the least understood parts of yoga. This is particularly true in contemporary yoga schools, where many people have adopted the outer forms of asana practice without gaining any insight into the inner workings of yoga.
The mantra technique is uniquely suited to creating increased levels of concentration. Mantra creates focus by drowning outer noise by creating controlled inner noise. As mental reminder, the mantra technique constantly keeps the mind of the practitioner focused on the moment. Using the mantra, yoga students can seamlessly transition from one yoga training technique to the next, without being distracted by their environment.
The mantra aids in the yogic practice of pranayama. When repeating the mantra mentally or verbally, the breathing patterns of the practitioner are naturally slowed down and elongated. It is difficult to achieve advanced states of yogic breathing faster. This creates a governor over pranayama practice, which prevents the eager student from injuring him or herself.
The mantra has a soothing and calming effect on the mind and body. Reciting the mantra frees the mind from distractions and orients focus to the task at hand. Mantra use has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, further relaxing the body of those who practice it.
The mantra is useful for maintaining control over the emotions. Repeating the mantra during times of anger and stress provides release when it is most needed. Unlike asana, the mantra can be performed mentally in any situation and environment.
The mantra provides the benefits of yogic science without the requirements of a special room. Mantra sessions can be performed without a teacher, no equipment is necessary to perform the mantra and no complex instructions are needed to reap the benefits of using the mantra.
Mantra practice promotes health and well being when practiced regularly. Dedicated chanting of the mantra causes the brain to release beneficial substances including dopamine. Balanced dopamine levels in the brain have been proven to be effective in the maintenance of the immune system. Additionally, mantra has been proven to positively impact the hypothalamus; a major control center of the brain.
The mantra is backed up by thousands of years of evidence. For the average student of yoga, knowing that the mantra has been used by yoga practitioners for generations is a great incentive to add this technique in their own yogic exercises. Yoga undergoes continual refinement, the fact that the mantra remains widely used today is a strong indication of its effectiveness.