By Tiffany Johnson
Where Mudras allow us the ability to evoke certain energy and embody a specific idea with the placement of our fingers and hands, modern day Mantras help drive the purpose or intention of a practice with a single word or several put together. When we lock into that one word or phrase, and come back to it throughout our practice or even daily lives, we are affirming it to ourselves and that meaning begins to settle a little deeper and become something we embody.
Food for thought, something for our minds to process, Mantras offer us something to come back to. Quotes from great minds, movies, literature, energize us and those words become something almost physical that we can grab onto. Even the quotes we scroll through on Instagram and Pinterest started somewhere, and can help us re-center and refocus when we have fallen off the path. Let your mantra be short and sweet, a gift to yourself when negativity begins to settle into the mind and heart.
When I got the words “let go” and “just breathe” tattooed onto my skin at 19, the words had not yet evolved into the deeper meaning they now hold in my heart. My struggle with anxiety tends to leave me flustered and overwhelmed, but when I remind myself to let go of those things that aren’t serving me in a positive way and reconnect by focusing on the simple act of just breathing, the haze clears away and the tightness that begins to grip my chest subsides. These words allow me to become more present in the moment, and own the emotions I am feeling.
I use these same words a lot in my yoga practice on the mat. There are days where my balance is totally shot, or my knee is preventing me from coming into the most basic posture, times where I just can’t seem to find my edge and feel like I fall short of what I am capable of. It is in these moments that yoga becomes more than just the physical postures, and makes itself more personal. The feeling of frustration when I just can’t find balance in Half Moon, or a little depth in a simple hamstring stretch, can overwhelm me and deter from the beauty of the process. Instead of allowing myself to focus on the negative, all the things I am not able to do this day, I let go. When I release myself from these emotions that are bringing me down and find my breath - reconnect - I can then find a lightness that may not have been there before.
Mantras can give us a little boost even when we aren’t on our yoga mat. Coming back to a mantra whenever we feel a little lower or not good enough, can help bring us back to the positive. It is always okay to feel sad, and it is okay to be angry sometimes, but when that sadness comes from a place of self-depreciation or maybe a feeling that was pushed onto us by another - a mantra offers a lifeline to help pull us back into the light. And it doesn’t have to be phrase you latch onto, it can change from day to day, moment to moment. Words that help reaffirm the awesomeness in each of us. Whatever they may be to you.