Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Spirituality

13 Yoga Mantras to Memorize

Ever bumble through chants in class? Here’s your chance to learn the words to classic Sanskrit and Gurmukhi mantras you'll likely encounter again and again.

Member Exclusive

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Join

Already a member?

Sign In

Reading mantras in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, can certainly be intimidating. (How exactly do you pronounce śāntiḥ again?) Gurmukhi, a sacred script used in Kundalini Yoga, is more straightforward than Sanskrit but can also sound like a mouthful at first. The good news: you don’t have to memorize a sonnet-length mantra to achieve positive results. Even single-word mantras—like Om—can be pretty powerful.

Think of a mantra as a mental instrument that fine-tunes your yoga practice. “Incorporating mantras into practice can help to make it sacred and take it out of the realm of the physical and into a higher state of awareness,” says Zoë Slatoff-Ponté, author of Yogavataranam: The Translation of Yoga.

Cultivating a sonic presence can be liberating in a way, as you experience the numinous nature of the sound. It is said that each chakra has a particular vibration and certain mantras can resonate and harmonize that energy. “A mantra is a much more complex concept than a mere chant,” adds Risha Lee, curator of Exhibitions at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. “It unites sound, body, and mind in a deeply philosophical experience.”

Read Healing Mantras: Using Sound Affirmations for Personal Power, Creativity, and Healing

While reciting a mantra before or after you step on the mat can enhance your practice, you don’t have to be in yoga mode to chant. Mantras are a yoga tool you can use to calm your mind anywhere, anytime. Feeling stressed, lonely, anxious, excited? Pick a word, phrase, or invocation and chant it in a way that works for you: loudly, softly, or even internally. To reap the most benefits, shorter mantras should be chanted 108 times (mala beads can help with that) and longer mantras can be repeated up to three times. In any case, allocate a few minutes to focus your attention on the sound.

“The pronunciation of mantras is very important,” Slatoff-Ponté says. “Ideally, one learns the correct pronunciation from a teacher, who can also recommend a specific mantra for you.”

If you don’t have a teacher to tell you what you need, you’ll surely find it this list of 13 essential mantras—whatever your mood may be.

13 Essential Yoga Mantras + Chants

The mantra: Om

om

Pronunciation: A-U-M

Listen to Yoga Journal co-founder Rama Jyoti Vernon demonstrate Om.

Why chant it:

Om is said to be the first sound heard at the creation of the universe. When each syllable is pronounced fully, you should feel the energy of the sound lifting from your pelvic floor all the way up through the crown of your head. The droning sound of the Om is said to unblock the throat chakra, which can lead to more attuned communication with others.

See also Mastering the Om: A Guide for Beginners

The mantra: Shanti Mantra, a chant for peace

Pronunciation: sarvesham svastir bhavatu | sarvesham shantir bhavatu | sarvesham purnam bhavatu | sarvesham mangalam bhavatu ||

Translation:

May there be well-being for all,
May there be peace for all.
May there be wholeness for all,
May there be happiness for all.
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

And the shorter version:

The mantra: Om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ
Pronunciation: A-U-M Shanti Shanti Shanti
Translation: Om Peace Peace Peace

Why chant it:

Because we could all use more peace in our lives.

See also Sanskrit Top 40: Must-Learn Lingo for Yogis

The mantra: Gayatri Mantra

Pronunciation: Om bhur bhuvah svah | tat savitur varenyam | bhargo devasya dhimahi | dhiyo yo nah prachodayat ||

Translation:

Earth, Heaven, the Whole Between.

The excellent divine power of the Sun.

May we contemplate the radiance of that god,

May this inspire our understanding.
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

Why chant it:

This is one of the oldest Sanskrit mantras. It speaks to the unity of all creation, despite its many forms. Chanting it invokes the light of the sun and helps us to transcend suffering.

See also Yoga Chant to Know: Gayatri Mantra

Read Mantras Made Easy: Mantras for Happiness, Peace, Prosperity, and More

The mantra: Invocation to Ganesha

Pronunciation: Om gam ganapataye namah | vakra-tunda maha-kaya surya-koti-sama-prabha | nirvighnam kuru me deva sarva-karyeshu sarva-da ||

Translation:

Salutations to Ganesha.*
O Ganesha, god with a curved trunk, of great stature,
Whose brilliance is equal to ten million suns.
Grant me freedom from obstacles,
In all things, at all times.
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

*Thefirst line is a bija, or seed mantra, that can be chanted separately.

Why chant it:

Ganesha is the god of wisdom and success, the remover of obstacles. It is always a good idea to begin any new endeavor by invoking him.

See also A Beginner’s Guide to Common Yoga Chants and Mantras

The mantra: Invocation to Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutra

Pronunciation: yogena chittasya padena vacham malam sharirasya cha vaidyakena | yo ’pakarottam pravaram muninam patanjalim pranjalir anato ’smi ||

Translation:

With palms folded together,
I bow respectfully to Patanjali, the best of sages,
Who dispels the impurities of the mind with Yoga,
Of speech through Grammar, and of the body by means of Medicine.
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

Why chant it:

This chant invoking Patanjali, one of the forefathers of the yoga tradition, is often chanted at the beginning of Iyengar Yoga classes or as an introduction to chanting the Yoga Sutra. Try it at the beginning of your practice as a way to honor the ancient tradition and to give thanks to the lineage of teachers. This chant also reminds us that yoga is meant to purify the mind, while Ayurvedic medicine can heal the body, and that our speech (and also our breath) is fundamental.

See also The Yoga Sutra: Your Guide To Living Every Moment

The mantra: Mangala Mantra

Pronunciation: svasti prajabhyah paripalayantam nyayena margena mahim mahishah | gobrahmanebhyah shubham astu nityam lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu ||

Translation:

May the rulers of the earth protect the well-being of the people,
With justice, by means of the right path.
May there always be good fortune for all living beings.
May all the inhabitants of the world be full of happiness.*
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

*Thelast line is a bija, or seed mantra, that can be chanted separately.

Why chant it:

It represents auspiciousness and good fortune for all. If you often dedicate your practice or meditation to someone, this one’s for you.

See also Cultivate a Metta Mind: Lovingkindness Meditation

Try Soothing Company Mala Necklace 

The mantra: A chant from the Upanishads, a collection of ancient Indian philosophical and religious texts

Pronunciation: Om saha nav avatu | saha nau bhunaktu | saha viryam karavavahai | tejasvi navadhitam astu ma vidvishavahai || Om shanti shanti shanti ||

Translation:

May we together be protected,
May we together be nourished.
May we work together with vigor,
May our study be illuminating.
May we be free from discord.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace!
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

Why chant it:

This mantra is often recited at the beginning of a joint study or venture, making it a good option for anything from anchoring a yoga practice to embracing a new opportunity, be it a job or a relationship.

See also Yes, You Can Teach Yoga Without Chanting

The mantra: A chant from the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, one of the oldest Sanskrit texts

Pronunciation: asato ma sad gamaya | tamaso ma jyotir gamaya | mrityor ma amritam gamaya ||

Translation:

From the unreal to the Real, lead me.
From darkness to Light, lead me.
From death to Immortality, lead me.
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

Why chant it:

It represents peace and freedom. As we all know, freedom can mean different things to different people but grasping it, even by the edges, can give you a sense of incredible levity.

See also Chanting 101: 6 Things To Know If You Don’t “Get” Kirtan

The mantra: The opening invocation of the Isha Upanishad, a Sanskrit text that delves into the knowledge of the Self

Pronunciation: purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate | purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavashishyate ||

Translation:

That is Whole. This is Whole.
The Whole arises from the Whole.
Having taken the Whole from the Whole,
Only the Whole remains.
Translation by Zoë Slatoff-Ponté

Why chant it:

This passage expresses the fundamental idea that the One and the Many are the same; the visible and the invisible, the microcosm and the macrocosm are both the Whole. Simply put—we are one. When you feel alone or misunderstood, this mantra can help you refocus your thoughts.

See also Why Bother With Sanskrit Chants?

Try Cultural Hub Brass Om

The mantra: Sat Nam

Pronunciation: Saaaaaaaat* | Nam ||

*Sat is extended eight times longer than Nam. If you really want the mantra to radiate from the base of your spine to the center of your head, make the Sat 35 times longer than the Nam.

Translation:

Truth is my name.

Why chant it:

Used in the Kundalini Yoga practice, Sat Nam can be a way to find your intuition. The Gurmukhi mantra is also part of the Sat Kriya meditation that is said to reinvigorate sexual energy if practiced daily for at least 3 minutes.

See also Kundalini Sun Salutation to Experience a Spiritual Awakening

The mantra: Adi Mantra (Ong Namo Guru Dav Namo) (from Gurmukhi)

Pronunciation: Oong namo | Gurudav namo ||

Translation:

I bow to the creative energy of the infinite.
I bow to the Divine channel of wisdom.

Why chant it:

This Gurmukhi mantra opens the communication channel between the student and the Divine teacher. We like to think that it also opens us to new endeavors and gives the strength to try something new.

See also Gabrielle Bernstein’s Kundalini Meditation to Bust Through Blocks

The mantra: Siri Gaitri Mantra

Pronunciation: Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung

Translation:

Sun, Moon, Earth, Infinity, All that is in infinity, I am Thee.

Why chant it:

Used as a restorative meditation to send healing energy to ourselves and others. In Kundalini Yoga, the pose for this meditation is as important as the sound. Sit comfortably with elbows bent and tucked in firmly alongside the ribcage, extended forearms out perpendicularly with palms facing up.

See also Gabrielle Bernstein’s Kundalini Meditation for Oneness

Try Handmade Throat Chakra

The mantra: Neti-Neti

Pronunciation: Neti neti

Translation:

Not this, not this.

Why chant it:

The phrase is a way to rebut something—be it harsh words or a situation in your life you would like to change.

See also Kirtan 101: Can You Say “Om Namah Shivaya”?

Please note that we independently source all of the products that we feature on yogajournal.com. If you buy from the links on our site, we may receive an affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.