Unfortunately, some Yoga teacher training courses do not cover the value of mantra or japa. In fact, in some rare cases, an intern might learn two dozen (24) Yoga postures (asanas), at level one, over a weekend. It is true that you have to start somewhere, but, in this case, a teacher’s continuing education must be pursued in a multitude of directions.
However, let’s talk about the true benefits, and value of mantra. The definition of mantra should be clear to all Yoga teachers, but the most common understanding might be: A mystical or sacred syllable, word, or set of words. In Sanskrit the definition of mantra is: “Mind protection.”
One might ask: Protection from what? In short, mantra is protection from self-destructive “mind chatter.” Not all mind chatter is self-destructive, but some of us easily default toward negative thoughts, when we are awake, and even, when we dream.
Mantras are words, with the power to protect the Yoga practitioner through repetition and practice. How is this possible? Positive affirmations and prayers do the same thing. The only person who doubts the power of positive affirmation and prayer is a pessimist. Pessimism is a guaranteed path toward self-destruction.
Therefore, let’s consider the optimistic path of enlightenment. Your mind will need protection from negative internal or external influences, which naturally occur during the course of a day. Even if you were in the middle of a sacred prayer, while driving your car, would you be able to maintain good thoughts? Now, what if other drivers were endangering your life by running stop signs?
This is just one example of real life situations. How do you usually react to a bullying co-worker? Would prayer, affirmation, or mantra, protect you from negative thoughts? Would you be peaceful, and logical, in the face of an adversary?
In truth, you would react to torment, but your emotions would be kept in check, to some degree, as a result of mantra practice. It is only human to have feelings. As you know, feelings and thoughts can be good or not so good.
So, why do we judge ourselves so harshly over thousands of daily thoughts, which come and go? We fear that we are what we think about. Now, we have come back “full circle,” to the true value of mantra, prayer, and positive affirmation.
The self-protection of our mental health is dependent upon having a focused, and controlled, mind. This is the reason why every Yoga teacher certification program should completely expose the positive value of mantra. In turn, Yoga teachers should pass this knowledge on to their students as Yogis did for thousands of years before us.
Copyright 2008 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications