Have you ever been in a yoga class where the teacher chants Om Shanti at the end?
If so, this is not unusual. In fact, it’s one of the most common mantras and Sanskrit terms used in yoga and meditation practice.
But what exactly does Shanti mean, and why do yogis chant it? Let’s find out!
The Meaning Of Shanti
Shanti is a famous mantra used to invoke peace and the end of suffering for all living things. It is a Sanskrit term meaning peace and calming; thus, chanting it can help you cultivate that quality and bring peace to others near and far.
Shanti relates to inner and outer peace and, thus, can serve as a reminder to cultivate a sense of calm and stillness inside ourselves and our environment. Although the word Shanti is thousands of years old, its meaning is still incredibly relevant in modern-day life.
Shanti is used in various religions, including Hinduism and Buddhism. The term’s meaning is the same in all traditions, but its use may differ. For example, some Hindus use Om Shanti as a polite greeting, in the same way as saying Namaste to someone.
This is not the case in Buddhism. In some Buddhist texts, Shanti is associated with Nirvana, a state where you transcend suffering and experience ultimate inner peace. Thus, it is seen as a state to attain through spiritual practices.
Shanti Yoga Meaning
Shanti is mentioned in the yoga sutras, although it is not explicitly named. Specifically, Yoga Sutra 1.33 implies, “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard for the wicked, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.”
Traditionally, Hindus would chant Shanti during religious practices and events, typically at the opening or closing of the rite. However, as Hatha yoga practice became popular in the west, so did the use of the Shanti mantra.
Now it’s common to hear a yoga teacher chant Om Shanti, at the beginning or end of yoga classes, as the mantra. Doing it in a group like this is a lovely way to build collective positive energy. When people visualize something positive like peace simultaneously, its power increases.
Using Shanti In Meditation Practice
Shanti can be used in mantra meditation, a meditative practice where you repeat a particular mantra or word. Mantra meditation helps you focus on the sound and, thus, the present moment, reducing the likelihood of your mind wandering and getting distracted.
Chanting Shanti during meditation can have potent effects. Firstly, you should maintain your attention on the sound of the word. You can also visualize the mantra sending the waves of harmony to yourself, a loved one, or the entire world, similarly to Metta (loving-kindness) meditation.
Benefits Of Chanting Shanti
There are many benefits to chanting the Shanti mantra in meditation or yoga, such as:
- To spark deep relaxation – Chanting mantras like Om Shanti can create a vibration in the ear that stimulates the Vagus nerve, the primary nerve of your parasympathetic nervous system. This triggers the relaxation response, creating an incredibly calming sensation in the brain and body.
- To relieve stress – The effect chanting has on the nervous system lowers high-stress levels and reduces the time your body is in fight or flight mode. This is important for stress reduction as the fight and flight mode triggers reactivity to the many everyday stressors.
- To develop concentration – Many meditators prefer mantra meditation to other styles because it is easier to maintain focus. Over time, you’ll find your concentration increases, creating more and more space between thoughts and less mental activity in general.
- To connect to your higher self – Chanting mantras is a spiritual practice performed by yogis and meditators seeking spiritual enlightenment for centuries. Regular repetition can open you up to new spiritual experiences and higher levels of consciousness.
- To experience true peace – It is believed that the word Shanti has the power to soothe the psyche of the person who recites it. It may also fill your outer environment with tranquility and make your external circumstances more comfortable.
- To get through difficult times – Whether experiencing suffering in your personal life or witnessing it on a larger scale, chanting Om Shanti can feel incredibly soothing. The powerful mantra can ease confusion, troubled feelings, and anxiety.
Why Do You Chant The Shanti Mantra Three Times?
Shanti is repeated thrice in both Hindu and Buddhist practices to represent threefold peace in the body, mind, and spirit. Thus, you chant it as “Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti,” extending the “i” on the last one.
The first chant purifies the body, relieving it from pain, suffering, and disease. The second brings peace and calmness to the mind, and the third removes all negative feelings from your spirit, infusing it with positivity.
Some traditions also teach that the first Shanti is to send peace to yourself. Then, the second Shanti is to spread peace to your loved ones, and the third Shanti invokes peace for the entire world.
Final Thoughts On Yoga Shanti Meaning
Whether you’re dealing with physical pain, emotional suffering, or high-stress levels, chanting Om Shanti will send you an instant dose of inner peace. Now you know the Shanti meaning, why not incorporate it in your spiritual practice? Try chanting Om Shanti three times while imagining a peaceful energy filling your body, mind, soul, and external environment.