Mantras, specific sounds carrying energy, are utilised in yogic practices in different ways. Mantra can be repeated aloud, in a whisper, mentally, or by writing (in Sanskrit). Some mantras we recite in class are Shanti mantras, or peace mantras. One we recite at the beginning, the other at the end.
I have made available a sheet for learning some mantras – PDF 76kb. It includes those mentioned above and two others, the Gayatri mantra for illumining the mind, and the Mahamrityunjaya mantra for healing and wellbeing.
These are written in a special way, denoting when the pitch goes up or down, for ease of learning. There are only three tones. Bold is for lower, lower case (not bold) for middle, and upper case for high. They have also been given a position, below the line for lower, level with the line for middle, and above the line for high, as this is more effective for some. If you have been to an evening class, this will make sense. From the middle tone, upper case is a semi tone up, and bold is a full tone down from the middle tone. Note that for the longer Shanti Path, we do it in class in more of a sung fashion, and the high tone (upper case) is a full tone up from middle. So, for example, with the long Shanti Path, you might use the notes of C, D and E. While for the other mantras C, D and D#. I have made them available here for those in class wanting to learn the mantras to chant with the rest of the class, however if you grasp this, you should be able to have a go even if you don’t attend.
For the Gayatri and Mahamrityunjaya mantras, a prescription of 11 repetitions of each in the morning has been given by Swami Niranjan. Upon waking, before the busy mind takes over for the day. You may choose to perform 27 repetitions of the Mahamrityunjaya and 24 of the Gayatri.
Mantra is a practical tool from the yogic tool box. Powerful and effective.