Yoga clears the mind. That is the core of Hatha yoga. On the outside looking in we might think the practice is about postures, that it is about moving our bodies. The reality is that it’s about using the concentration on postures to control the movement of the mind. The physical postures are not where we are going, they are just where we begin.
Having moved recently, my yoga practice has been challenged by my life’s new routine. Settling my thoughts has been the biggest hurdle. More than ever I am appreciative of the wisdom I learned during a workshop with A.G. Mohan, a personal student of Sri T. Krishnamacharya for 18 years. He explained that every person, everywhere, has to deal with their own mind’s movement. In fact, he reassures that we are all a bit mad. This is why he says, “All of the limbs of yoga should have control of the mind or it is not yoga.” Working toward making this control happen is the essence of the practice. It will constantly be challenged during life and our yoga practice will need to change to address these challenges.
What A.G. Mohan offered was a method for control, a mantra (or mind protector). A mantra introduces a thought to protect the mind and create a new set of latent impressions. The universal mantra Mohan suggested was the word namaha (not me or not mine). In other words, we state to ourselves the thoughts are not mine; a gentle reminder that we are a part of the larger universe. Of course, if you are not comfortable with Sanskrit or would prefer to use English, that is not a problem. If you would like to use another word that you are more comfortable with, e.g. peace, that is not a problem. The word is not what is important; the use of one word or phrase over a long period of time is what is necessary. In other words, don’t constantly shop around. Find a mantra that speaks to you and apply it to your practice.
Use the mantra as a tool to settle the mind while moving through postures, meditating, or breathing. For example, try using the mantra once on your inhale and once or twice on your exhale as you practice. No need to say it aloud. It is yours to keep to yourself. It is your mind protector.
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