Mantra and Stress Reduction
By Nancy Weshkoff
Beginners to yoga often ask what is a mantra and why is this used in yoga classes. Mantra is a short phrase, or a chant, or it may be a single word. It can be in Sanskrit, the ancient language of yoga, or it can be in English. As an example, “shanti”, is a Sanskrit word and means “peace”. At the end of a yoga class, a yoga teacher may close the class with “shanti, shanti, shanti” as a message that peace be with you and with the world.
Mantra can be any word or combination of words that has meaning to you. It is important that it be a POSITIVE message. For example, you can say “I am smart”, “I am beautiful”, “Everything is going to be okay”, “I am grateful”, “I am happy”, etc. You want to avoid negative versions of this such as “I am not stupid”, as your brain has difficulty processing the negative and hears “I am stupid”. You could also choose a famous phrase that resonates with you. A simple “I love myself” is also wonderful.
Sometimes people think a mantra can only be used in a yoga class or if you are doing a seated meditation in your house. This is certainly when you might encounter mantra, but mantra is available to you at any time during the day. If you are sitting in traffic, on a train, waiting in a doctor’s office, standing in line at a store, or just walking down the street, you can use a mantra. Just silently repeat to yourself the positive mantra of your choosing.
So, why is mantra important and how can it help with stress reduction? During our day, our mind is occupied with many thoughts – not all of them good. We might find ourselves regretting something from our past and reliving the past scene in our mind. Or perhaps you are imagining what might happen in the future at a certain event which is making you anxious, and we start to worry. Our blood pressure rises, which increases a strain on our heart and other organs. Guilt and worry are two negative emotions that we should try to reduce as much as possible.
Instead of negativity, how about changing this to something positive? If you change the negative into a positive mantra that you repeat to yourself, you start to relax. It helps with stress reduction and lowers blood pressure.
Try doing this for just 2-3 minutes. Select a positive mantra that is meaningful to you. Notice how you feel before you start the mantra. Take a few deep breaths. Then start repeating the mantra to yourself. If you are alone in a room, you can choose to say it aloud. After just a few minutes of slowly repeating the mantra, notice how you feel. You should notice a reduction in your stress and your mind should be calmer. Mantra can be miraculous!
If you would like to discover more about mantra, come try one of the great yoga classes at our Moonflower Yoga studio in Bellmore, in Nassau County (Long Island, New York). Our yoga teachers offer mantra to our yoga students and encourage them to incorporate these into their daily routine. In our singing bowl meditation classes, mantra is used with sound, which is a fabulous way to relax. In our Kundalini yoga classes, mantra is part of the yoga practice, and you may repeat your mantra while moving in a certain yoga posture or with a breathing technique offered by our Kundalini yoga teacher. I encourage you to incorporate mantra in your life and see how it can help you relax and feel great!
Reflections on Moonflower Yoga’s 2-year anniversary celebration
By Nancy Weshkoff
For those of you who may not know my background, I spent over 35 years in the corporate world, most of these in the music industry where I worked my way up the ranks and had an opportunity to meet some amazing people. While it was an interesting and important phase of my life, it is this new phase at Moonflower Yoga that is so special to me.
When my life in corporate America came to an end, it was a gut-wrenching period trying to decide what to do next. I decided to turn to the one thing that always brought me peace during the stressful times in my life: my yoga practice. Shortly thereafter I enrolled in a teacher training program, and realized this was my new destiny. Upon graduation from the teacher training program, Moonflower Yoga was born. I decided to open the studio in Bellmore in Long Island’s Nassau County (New York) and say goodbye to commuting on the LIRR every weekday.
And while I had a dream of what I would like the studio to be, it has far exceeded what those initial drawing plans were. Moonflower Yoga offers a very interesting mix of classes, and I am very proud of how varied the schedule is, with classes such as Vinyasa flow classes for energy and strength, Iyengar-style classes that increase your flexibility, Kundalini yoga, wonderful meditation classes, restorative yoga to reduce stress, Tai Chi, very gentle yoga classes for the beginner, and an eclectic mix of classes under “Calming and Healing Your Spirit” ranging from Angel Healing (IET), to a Reiki Healing Circle, to Laughter Yoga, to a Gallery Reading with an intuitive medium, etc. The small-class setting at Moonflower Yoga has encouraged newcomers, as well as fellow baby boomers such as myself, to come and try yoga, and they are getting stronger, more flexible, and finding inner peace as a result.
I also love the workshop programs on very wide-ranging topics from natural ways to improve your health, astrology, spiritual development, Feng Shui, Tai Chi and Qigong, crystals, aromatherapy, meditation, Tarot Cards, ways to relieve neck and shoulder discomfort, goal setting to help you reach your dreams, etc. These have enabled people to learn so many fun and interesting things. And in the last year the Moonflower Yoga Book Club was formed where we have a great time meeting every 4-6 weeks, sharing the new things in our lives, and learning something new through the books selected.
Most of all, it is the students and teachers who have become such an important part of my life that have helped to make Moonflower Yoga special. I love the community that has developed here with people meeting other people, becoming friends, and supporting each other. I feel very, very blessed when I open the doors of the Moonflower Yoga studio every day and know that amazing things are going to happen at the studio. I send out my thanks to all of you who have made Moonflower Yoga a success!! And a final thanks to the other half of my life: my husband, Bob, who has been my rock through my journey and helps with so many of the functions at the studio, especially those absolutely delicious homemade goodies that we serve for the workshops and the Moonflower Yoga Book Club.
If you are in the area of Bellmore (Nassau County) on Long Island’s south shore this weekend, come join us for our fun two-year anniversary party this Saturday, September 7th, from 1 PM – 5 PM. Come say hello and help us share in an important milestone. You will get to meet some great people. And thank you again for your support!!!!