We’ve all been there during a yoga practice or meditation session: Despite our best efforts, monkey-mind takes over and we’re running through everything from that sticky interaction with the boss to all the to-dos that need to happen before the end of the day.
One way to quiet this all-too-common scenario is to practice using a yoga mantra. Similar to the breath, mantras are a useful tool for anchoring into the present moment and providing a point a focus. The best part? You can easily use a mantra anywhere you go. In fact, for many of the teachers we talked to, mantras are a way to help them experience the kind of peace they feel on their yoga mats and meditation cushions when they’re out in the real world.
Even better, your mantra can change whenever you like, depending on what you need. And it doesn’t have to be in Sanskrit or so long that you need a little print-out. A mantra can simply be a word or phrase that is accessible and supportive.
We asked top yoga teachers to tell us their go-to mantras, so you can get inspired to use a meaningful mantra in your practice, too. Here’s what they shared with us.
Lauren Taus, yoga teacher and clinical therapist
MANTRA: “I am love.”
WHY: I use this mantra to manage my insecurities, judgments, and tendency towards comparison. The more I connect with my own heart, the more love I have to give. I also believe in vibrational match dot com! As I fall into deeper love with me, I see love everywhere.
Ben Sears, yoga teacher and founder & CEO of LUXYOGA
MANTRA: Spread love and kindness.
WHY: While I practice Sanskrit mantras, at the recent behest of my Ayurveda teacher (who grew up on an ashram in India), I have also begun to create mantras in my own language. Yoga is about optimizing well-being and using the body as vehicle to begin to observe the mind, ultimately preparing you for deeper reflection. Chants with religious themes may not be accessible to many people. Over many years of teaching, I’ve found students respond well to doing serious inner work in a lighthearted way, and one of the greatest gifts of a practice is the feeling that everything is going to be OK, it’s alright to chuckle, and we’re all in this together.
Annie Carpenter, yoga teacher and creator of SmartFLOW Yoga
MANTRA: Neti, Neti
WHY: My mantra changes often. Here’s one I return to when I find myself needing all the answers; it helps me get back to being in the flow of uncertainty. “Neti, neti” translates as “not this, not that.”
Meredith Cameron, international yoga teacher and the founder of Yoga Stability®
MANTRA: Get over yourself.
WHY: This mantra puts things into perspective for me (and for others), reminding me that we complicate sh%t for no reason!
Lauren Eckstrom, yoga/meditation teacher and co-founder of Inner Dimension Media
MANTRA: I have time.
WHY: “I have time” reminds me to slow down and move mindfully throughout the day. While we never know when our last day will come, we do know (thanks to science!) that the more present we are in any given moment, the happier and more fulfilled we are. In today’s world, we are all subject to the pain and influence of urgency. We all have moments where we get caught in the rush and flood of emails, information, and overflowing schedules. When I gently remind myself, “I have time” it encourages me to take each moment as it comes with the fullness of my attention, and when the end of the day comes I have a greater sense of peace, joy, and fulfillment.
Laura Burkhart, yoga teacher
MANTRA: Dream Big.
WHY: I say this a lot throughout the week. It helps me to not limit my thinking in how I can help a person, a community, or as many animals as possible, while I still have breath in my body. I believe what you think about and choose to set your focus on is where you’re headed. Whether people experience great things—big or small—has a lot to do with how they think.
Sara Clark, mindfulness coach and yoga teacher
MANTRA: Om Ritam Namah
WHY: I love this mantra’s translation, which is “My intentions and desires are directly connected and supported by universal intelligence.”
Kathryn Budig, international yoga teacher
MANTRA: Be dangerous. But be kind.
WHY: I’m all about taking risks and reminding myself of my talent. This means I need to be kind to myself and others in this transformative, and often volatile, process.
Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts, co-founder of Red Clay Yoga & founder of Yoga, Literature, and Art Camp for Teen Girls
MANTRA: I am grounded and capable of making choices even when I am questioning.
WHY: This mantra is deeply meaningful for me right now. It is both my mantra and perfect sankalpa I crafted under the guidance of my yoga nidra teacher, Tracee Stanley.
Elena Brower, yoga/meditation teacher and creator of Practice You journal
MANTRA: Maha Mrityunjaya
WHY: The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is a nurturing mantra, a healing force. The words of this mantra strengthen our will, wisdom, and willingness to act, creating an internal environment of creativity, courage, and clarity. I repeat this mantra every morning before meditation, and a few times a day to optimize what I’m learning, eating, hearing, or experiencing.