In Ayurveda, mantras are considered the most powerful technique for positively influencing the mind. They’re more than just repetitive sounds. Certain mantras carry vibrations that reverberate throughout the entire being and shift subconscious patterns. These top 13 mantras for yogis will help connect you to your inner guru, awakening spiritual consciousness within.
So simple, so common, yet never to be underestimated. Om is the original sound and carries all sounds and vibrations throughout the universe. It uplifts for the upward transformation of the soul and harmonizes you with the world around you. It should be chanted at the beginning and end of a yoga practice, as well as at the beginning and end of all other mantras.
In the Upanishads, it’s explained that the sun chants om as it moves throughout the sky. In Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, om is linked to the sun. This is the planet that most relates to your individual soul for finding light and truth—perfectly aligning with a yogi’s spiritual goals.
Sometimes taught in vinyasa classes, so-hum is a gorgeous mantra to pair with the breath. It means I am that, reminding us that we are all part of the universal-consciousness rather than separate from it. So can be mentally recited on inhalations, and hum on exhalations. It can also be experienced the opposite way with hum on inhalations, and so on exhalations. It can either be paired with asana as a technique for enhancing awareness and bringing more spirituality to the practice, or as a meditation in itself.
Sham is the mantra of peace, detachment, and liberation. It’s pronounced more like ‘shum’, with the ‘a’ sound said similar to ‘the’. Because it calms the mind and promotes mental stability, it’s a great mantra for yogis. It helps in meditation, focusing the mind, and granting dedication to one’s sadhana or spiritual practice.
Pronounced ‘goom’, the mantra gum connects us to the inner guru and a yogi’s knowledge of the divine within. It’s also the mantra for Jupiter. According to Jyotish, Jupiter is the most beneficial of all the planets, signifying our dharma and the expansiveness of your soul. Gum is the perfect mantra for searching yogis who’d like to align themselves with the divine guidance that resides within.
Lam is the mantra for the root and first chakra: muladhara. In order to truly evolve spiritually, you must rise above your first two chakras because those keep you tied to your animal instincts. The mantra lam, which is pronounced with an ‘ahm’ sound, releases blockages in muladhara and activates its potential for evolution. It also grounds you and provides contentment.
Yam is the mantra of the heart and fourth chakra, anahata. Chanting yam while visualizing a smoky gray six-pointed star residing at this chakra creates love and devotion. According to some lineages, only when the kundalini has made it to anahata chakra is one a true yogi. Until then, they are merely a yoga practitioner.
Lokah samastah sukinoh bhavantu is a universal mantra meaning, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free.” It’s non-religious and a blessing for all beings. It’s the perfect mantra to teach to yoga students. This mantra reinstates within us the idea that we should love both ourselves and others. It promotes our compassion and dissipates our ill-will and envy.
Ram is considered a mantra of protection. It’s also one of the mantras for the sun—the giver of light and strength. For those familiar with Jyotish, ram can be used to bring in the positive effects of the sun and to ward off darkness and negativity. It boosts immunity and helps to reduce excess vata in such conditions as anxiety, fear and nervousness.
Soam is the bija or “seed” mantra for the moon. Just like the moon, soam has a cooling effect, making it perfect for anyone suffering from excess heat, anger, or irritability. Soft and nurturing, soam brings bliss and joy. It builds up the body tissues and strengthens the vital essence, called ojas in ayurveda.
You may have heard “om shanti, shanti, shanti” chanted at the end of yoga class or at the end of a longer mantra. It means “peace, peace, peace” and is usually chanted to seal a class or prayer. It’s another universal mantra that has no religious attachment, so it can be chanted by all to bring in beautiful, peaceful energy.
This mantra has a beautiful meaning (as translated by Maya Tiwari):
That is whole; this is whole
from the whole, this whole came.
Remove this whole from that whole,
what remains is still whole
It reminds us that we are one with the universe and no matter how separate we may sometimes feel, our oneness never goes away.
Sat nam is used in kundalini yoga much like yogis in other practices use “namaste”. It means truth is my identity. It reminds us that we are divine beings—the ultimate truth.
The Gayatri mantra is considered the mother of all mantras. It was mentioned in both the Rig Vega and the Bhagavad Ghita, two of the most important spiritual texts in the yogic tradition. As Acharya Shunya explains in Ayurveda: Lifestyle Wisdom, it is a mantra to connect us to the sun. This is not only the sun of the sky but divine light. The Gayatri Mantra connects us to the universe and awakens our spiritual awareness.
It’s traditionally said that mantras should be learned from one’s guru. When they’re passed down in this way, they’re both learned with correct pronunciation (Sanskrit isn’t easy!) and spiritually charged. This is still the case when it comes to more complex mantras like the Gayatri Mantra.
For most of the other mantras, they’re easy enough to learn on your own. They should be chanted repeatedly in the technique called japa, mindfully and with full awareness. Using a mala can make it easier to focus. These mantras can be chanted aloud, by moving the lips only, or silently—do what feels right for you.
Try sticking with one mantra for a week and chant it daily. Observe what effect it has on your mind and wellbeing. You will undoubtedly feel clearer and more at peace, as this is the beauty of yoga’s powerful mantras.
Frawley, David. Ayurveda and the Mind. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press, 1996.
Frawley, David. Astrology of the Seers: Course in Vedic Astrology and Ayurveda. Santa Fe: David Frawley, 2010.
Shunya, Acharya. Ayurveda: Lifestyle Wisdom. Boulder: Sounds True, 2017.
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