Kundalini 101: The Meaning of Sat Nam - Yoga Journal

Kundalini 101: The Powerful Meaning of Sat Nam

Discover how to use this essential Kundalini Yoga mantra in your practice to cultivate courage and live your truth.
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Are you ready to discover your life’s purpose and activate your fullest potential? Kundalini Yoga is an ancient practice that helps you channel powerful energy and transform your life. And now there is an accessible, easy way to learn how to incorporate these practices into your practice and life. Yoga Journal’s 6-week online course, Kundalini 101: Create the Life You Want, offers you mantras, mudras, meditations, and kriyas that you’ll want to practice every day. Sign up now!

You may have chanted Sat Nam, one the most commonly used mantras in Kundalini Yoga, without realizing its profound meaning and transformative properties. In the ancient Sikh language called Gurmukhi, Sat means truth. Nam means name. Together, Sat Nam essentially translates into something deeper: “I am truth,” or “Truth is my essence.”

Sat Nam is known as a bija (seed) mantra—a one-syllable sound that activates the chakras. "It is small and potent. Great things grow from it," said Yogi Bhajan, who brought Kundalini Yoga to the United States in 1968. "If it is not written in your destiny to be with God and know your higher consciousness, this mantra engraves it in your destiny.”

Sat Nam is like a seed that begins to germinate inside of you. The vibration of a mantra shifts us on an atomic level. In particular, the vibration of Sat Nam initiates the journey to selfhood. Individual truth and universal truth become one and the same.

Sat Nam is about expressing your true identity, not only for the benefit of yourself but also for others. No one else can express the exact combination of frequencies that you do. You are connected to all there is—the vast universal truth. In an infinite universe, you are unique. For the universe to be complete, your vibration is needed.

How Sat Nam Inspires Bravery

Selfhood starts with courage. It requires saying yes to your own truth. And often that “yes” is at odds with your family, with your social surroundings, and with the status quo. If you are reading these words, chances are that you are being called to do more than live the status quo. You are feeling called to make a difference.

When you chant Sat Nam, you are using the power of the spoken word, and you can begin to feel very unsettled by living in any other way but in your absolute truth. Speaking and living truth takes courage, but feeling your truth and repressing it is where the real threat is. When you chant Sat Nam from the heart, you break through fear in the mind.

Two Ways to Practice Sat Nam Right Now

Sat Nam is a universal mantra that can be practiced no matter what your belief systems are. 

1. Seated Meditation
Find a comfortable seat that allows for a long spine. To chant Sat Nam, imagine sound current vibrating at the very base of your spine. Visualize the vibration of Saaah rising up through the spine activating the frequency of each chakra as it ascends. When the sound comes to the very top of your head—the thousand-petaled lotus—close the first syllable with the t sound, as though kissing your upper palate with the tip of your tongue. On the second syllable, Naam, feel the sound current extending into the energy field surrounding your body.

2. Walking Meditation
When my mind feels overwhelmed with external stimulation or the ideas or opinions of others, I take a walk outside and meditate on Sat Nam. As I take a step forward with my right foot, I silently say Sat and with my left foot Nam

Committing to the practice for 20 minutes brings me back to my own inner truth. The true teacher lives within you, and, at this time in the world, if you rely on the perceptions of others, you may find yourself feeling disappointed and powerless.

Truth is your name. 

Want to learn how to tap into your innate kundalini energy to transform your practice and life? Join Karena in Kundalini 101 today!

Kundalini 101 with Karena Virginia: About Our Expert

Karena Virginia has 20 years of experience as a powerful healer and highly acclaimed yoga instructor. Based in the New York City area, she conducts workshops in the United States and Europe and is a pioneer in bringing positive change to the world through fierce love. She’s co-author of the 2017 book Essential Kundalini Yoga and released the DVD The Power of Kundalini in 2015. Her app, Relax and Attract with Karena, has helped thousands of people around the world to find inner peace and healing. Karena's work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Bravo TV, and the Oprah Winfrey Network.