Sa Ta Na Ma: The Kundalini Meditation Everyone Should Try

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Gemma Clarke

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Sa-Ta-Na-Ma

In this day and age, most people are aware of the incredible benefits of meditation. One great thing about this mindful practice is that there are so many different styles. From focusing on your breath to chanting to walking mindfully, everyone can find a meditation technique suited to them.

Sa Ta Na Ma meditation is derived from the ancient yogic Kundalini practice. This meditation technique is ideal for both beginners and advanced meditators and has many scientifically proven benefits.

So whether you’re just starting a spiritual practice or looking for a new technique to deepen your spiritual journey, Sa Ta Na Ma may be for you. Let’s explore what this meditative practice is, where it comes from, and how to do it.

What Is Sa Ta Na Ma?

Sa Ta Na Ma is a type of meditation known as a Kirtan Kriya. Kirtan Kriya means a meditation involving chanting. It comes from the ancient yoga style Kundalini, which focuses on stimulating energy in the spine and moving it up to the crown of the head.

It is believed that Kirtan Kriyas have been around for thousands of years and were practiced by ancient yogis in India. However, it was Kundalini master Yogi Bhajan who introduced these mantra-based meditations to the west when he brought the practice to the United States in the late sixties.

The Sanskrit word Sa Ta Na Ma comes from the root mantra “Sat Nam,” which translates to “my true essence” or “my true identity.” Therefore, chanting these words can help you uncover or reaffirm who you really are. Moreover, by chanting Sa Ta Na Ma, you tap into the sacred energy of these sounds. This can calm your mind, release blockages in your subtle body (chakra system), and boost creativity and vitality.

Each word in this mantra also has a specific meaning, which can be loosely translated as:

  • Sa – Birth, The beginning
  • Ta – Life, Existence
  • Na – Death, The transformation of consciousness
  • Ma – Rebirth, Regeneration

One repetition of the complete mantra represents a complete life cycle.

Sa Ta Na Ma & Kundalini Yoga

Chanting mantras like Sa Ta Na Ma is a key part of a kundalini yoga practice. The sound that each mantra produces carries an energetic vibration. This charge activates the seven chakras that run from the base of the spine up to the crown of the head.

The purpose of kundalini yoga is to move the serpent energy up from the Muladhara chakra (root), where it resides, to the Sahasrara chakra (crown). This activates a transformational change known as a kundalini awakening.

What Are The Benefits Of Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation?

Although chanting Sa Ta Na Ma is an ancient yogic technique, it is also becoming a scientifically recognized practice. For example, studies by the University of Pennsylvania and UCLA found the Sa Na Ta Ma meditation to be an effective practice for preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers found this because chanting meditation broadly increases cognitive functioning, including perception, thinking, reasoning, and remembering. This helps to improve short-term memory, increase cerebral blood flow and reduce stress levels, all of which help to prevent brain disorders.

As a result, the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation now recommends this meditation for Alzheimer’s patients, stating that a 12-minute daily practice can slow down the effects of the disease.

Aside from preventing age-related brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, chanting Sa Ta Na Ma may have the following benefits:

  • Clears energetic blockages – The mantra and mudras used in Sa Ta Na Ma meditation increase the energy flow in our bodies and cleanse the chakra system. Each chakra is responsible for certain aspects of our physical, mental, and emotional health. Thus, clearing blockages can help heal any ailments we may be experiencing in our minds and bodies.
  • Increases self-awareness – The energetic vibrations of the mantra get deep into the subconscious mind. This makes us aware of parts of ourselves we may have been previously blind to. For example, we can identify and break free from limiting beliefs, allowing us to learn more about ourselves and improve our lives.
  • Calms the mind and reduces anxiety – This powerful mantra can also cleanse and heal any negative emotions or toxic habits. This results in total mental balance and clarity and reduced feelings of worry and anxiety.
  • Increases mental focus – Sa Ta Na Ma meditation is ideal for anyone who struggles to remain focused in other meditations, such as mindfulness and breath awareness. As this meditation involves continuous repetition of the mantra, your mind stays occupied. Thus, it is difficult for it to wander.

How To Do Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Interestingly, there is more than one way to do the Sa Ta Na Ma meditation. This is because the way you chant the mantra determines the intention you are setting or the energy you are creating.

  • Chanting or singing out loud evokes action and represents the human voice.
  • Chanting with a quiet or whispered voice directs the mantra’s energy to your internal self and represents the silent voice.
  • Repeating the mantra in silence (in your head) channels your spiritual self and represents the spiritual voice.

Using all three voice styles during each kundalini meditation is recommended for maximum benefits.

Associated mudras

The sound you make is only one part of this Kirtan Kriya. As kundalini yoga involves using mudras (hand gestures), positioning your hands when you meditate has great significance. This is because holding mudras stimulates particular pressure points and energy channels, similar to how acupressure works.

During a Sa Ta Na Ma meditation, you should use a different mudra for each word of the mantra, like this:

  • Sa – Join the thumb and index finger in Gyan Mudra – It represents wisdom and the planet Jupiter. It is also associated with the air element and stimulates the nervous system, pituitary gland, and endocrine glands.
  • Ta – Join the thumb and middle finger in Shuni Mudra – It represents patience and the planet Saturn. It is also associated with the element of space, increasing our intuition and detoxifying the body through elimination.
  • Na – Join the thumb and ring finger in Surya Mudra – It represents energy and the sun. It increases the earth element while decreasing the fire element. This promotes endurance, strength, and vitality of the bones, muscles, tendons, and inner organs.
  • Ma – Join the thumb and pinkie finger in Buddhi Mudra – It represents communication and the planet Mercury. It also decreases the water element to help ailments like watery eyes, runny noses, water retention, and loose bowels.

Visualization

Many people choose to visualize when they chant the Sa Ta Na Ma mantra. This helps to clear the subconscious mind of collective negativity and increase mental focus and clarity. If you use visualization, imagine a gold cord running through your blood vessels around the body. See this gold energy moving around your body and head, clearing blockages and dispersing negative energy.

In Kundalini yoga, the golden cord is an energetic pathway connecting the pineal and pituitary glands. These glands are associated with the crown and third eye chakra, which open us to intuition, spiritual connection, and enlightenment. Thus, the golden cord visualization helps to connect you to the divine.

Sa Ta Na Ma instructions

There are three standard lengths for the Sa Ta Na Ma meditation.

  • 6 minutes – 1 minute for each voice style (out loud, whisper, silent)
  • 12 minutes – 2 minutes for each voice style
  • 30 minutes – 5 minutes for each voice style

If you are trying this kundalini meditation for the first time, I recommend you start with the 6-minute practice.

  1. Come into a comfortable position like Sukasana with the legs comfortably crossed and spine straight. Sit on a pillow or against the wall if needed. Let your hands rest on the knees with the palms facing upwards.
  2. Take a few deep breaths to bring awareness to your body, breath, and the present moment. If your mind feels particularly busy, spend a few minutes centering yourself through your breath before beginning.
  3. Start to chant Sa Ta Na Ma out loud for 1, 2, or 5 minutes, switching the associated mudras between each word. Take a deep breath in between each cycle.
  4. Whisper the mantra for 1/2/5 minutes, continuing to alternate between the mudras.
  5. Repeat the mantra silently in your mind for 1/2/5 minutes.
  6. Reverse the mantra by chanting silently for 1/2/5 minutes, whispering for 1/2/5 minutes, and chanting out loud for the last 1/2/5 minutes.
  7. As soon as you finish the last round, take a deep inhale as you raise your arms in the air and shake your entire body vigorously for 1 minute. This vital step helps to circulate the energy that you have just created.
  8. Spend a few minutes sitting quietly or lying down, allowing your whole body to relax. Keep your awareness of your body, noticing the effects of the practice. You may feel tingling sensations, particularly in your hands, due to the increased energy flow.

For correct pronunciation, pronounce the ‘a’ in each syllable as ‘ah’ and hold it for one beat rather than elongating the sound. The “Ta” and “Na” should be pronounced by touching the tip of the tongue to the teeth.

Note that if you use the golden cord visualization technique, try to maintain this throughout the entire meditation.

Tips For Preparing For Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Meditation is not an easy practice, even for those with previous experience. However, you can do a few things to increase the chances of successful meditation.

Use a meditation cushion

Like with all mediations, a comfortable posture is the key to success. You will struggle to stay focused if you are dealing with pain or tension while trying to chant and meditate. Moreover, if your spine is not straight and you are leaning back or slouching, you won’t experience the energy flowing as it should. Thus, won’t enjoy the full extent of the practice’s benefits.

I strongly recommend investing in a high-quality meditation cushion. Unlike standard cushions from your couch or pillows from your bed, a meditation cushion is specially designed for sitting in a meditative posture for long periods.

There are different styles of meditation pillows regarding shape and material. For example, a Zafu cushion is a round meditation cushion, while a Zabuton cushion is a large, rectangular cushion.

I recommend getting a meditation cushion set, like this one from Bean Products, which has a Zafu and a Zabuton cushion. The Zabuton provides comfort to your knees, ankles, feet, and sitting bones, while the Zafu supports the hips to ensure a straight spine.

Bolsters are thick, firm oblong cushions that also make a great meditation cushion. This Gaiam Bolster is filled with natural cotton batting to give maximum support to the hips and knees and improve your posture.

Follow along to a online meditation

When learning a new mediation, guidance is always super helpful. I recommend using this Sa Ta Na Ma guided meditation for the first few times. The 12-minute guided meditation follows the above structure with two minutes for each voice style. Once you feel comfortable with the practice, you can do it independently.

Practice other aspects of kundalini yoga

Sa Ta Na Ma meditation is just one practice in the yoga style of Kundalini. If you find this Kirtan Kriya beneficial, I recommend trying some of the others and learning other kundalini yoga techniques. This will give you a more well-rounded, complete spiritual practice and enhance the benefits further.

The book Kundalini Awakening for Beginners by Willow Kumar is a great way to deepen your understanding of these yogic teachings. It contains easy-to-digest and modern insights into the ancient practice and features a collection of meditation and breathing exercises. In addition, The Chakras, by Yogi Bhajan, is a fantastic resource for learning more about the subtle body.

Final Thoughts On Sa Ta Na Ma

Sa Ta Na Ma is a profound meditation that has the power to access the subconscious mind. This part of our mind contains stored information from all our previous life experiences, the good and the bad. Sa Ta Na Ma offers a way to clear out all of the bad stuff, making you healthier, happier, and more self-aware. It also deepens your spiritual connection, bringing greater flow and alignment into your life.

About Gemma Clarke

Gemma Clarke is a certified and experienced yoga & meditation instructor. She has been practicing meditation since 2014 and teaching since 2018. Gemma specializes in yoga and mindfulness for emotional wellbeing, and she has taught in Thailand, Cambodia, and the UK. Gemma is passionate about sharing her expertise and experience with meditation to inspire others to live more mindfully, becoming happier, healthier, and calmer.

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