As much as we love the endorphin-fueled high we feel after a sweaty round of cardio, curls, or Crossfitting, the clear-headed confidence after a great yoga session is unlike any other fitness reward. Yes, a toned bod and improved flexibility are just a couple of the many benefits of yoga, but the brilliant gems of wisdom from your favorite instructor sprinkled throughout class can inspire your goals outside the studio, too.
Since emotional stability and consistent willpower is half the battle when it comes to developing good health habits and eating routines, we tapped top instructors for mantras that promote a calmer, stronger, and happier you. Find your favorite below and then don't miss these 25 Weight Loss Mantras Nutritionists Swear By!
"I Am Enough."
"I love this mantra because it reminds you that you've made a powerful difference just by showing up on the mat," says Michelle Gottfried, a yoga instructor at Charleston Power Yoga in Charleston, South Carolina. "Research has shown that yoga can enhance how your brain functions, so even if you go into a class thinking you're not good enough, or strong enough, it's amazing to see a transformation in students as they leave feeling empowered and capable."
Translate it IRL: The sheer fact that you're taking steps to try and eat healthier is valuable; don't shame yourself for not being a ride-or-die dietary pro.
"I'm Here for a Purpose."
Kudos! You've loaded up on those best foods for yoga all week long, and you've made it to the mat. "Setting your intentions is one of the most important things to do before you start your yoga practice," shares Mark Balfe-Taylor, director of yoga at TruFusion in Las Vegas, Nevada. "Before you go in, you want to have an idea of what you will be focusing on during class. By repeating 'I'm here for a purpose,' you are reminding yourself that you made it a point to attend class; there is a reason for your practice, and you are following through with your commitment. It also opens your mind up to finding your purpose, to being open to the possibilities of self-exploration."
Translate it IRL: Food is fuel; eat mindfully and with intention, rather than with abandon.
"Inhale: 1-2-3-4-5. Exhale: 1-2-3-4-5."
This practical yogi breathing exercise works just as well on the mat as it does when you're faced with an uber-stressful moment at the office. "Count to five in your head, breathing in and out through your nose," explains Lauren Imparato, Founder of IAMYOUstudio.com and author of RETOX. "This is the root of all yoga, and has been shown in both eastern and western science to soothe brain waves and make you calmer, happier, and more focused."
Translate it IRL: Deep breathing can help keep stress under control, which makes your micro moments happier and healthier. For more happiness tips, check out these 30 Ways to Be Happier This Year.
"Om Namah Shivaya"
"In Sanskrit, one of my favorite mantras is this one, which means 'I bow to' or 'I honor Shiva.' Shiva is simply another name for the higher self but is also the destroyer—the destroyer of obstacles, as well as the destroyer of the ego," Jessica Bellofatto of JBYoga, a studio that specializes in SUP yoga and retreats. "This mantra is actually one of the most popular mantras in India and traditionally is thought to be a powerful healing mantra for all physical and mental ailments. When repeating it over and over again, it brings joy to my heart. It has resonated with me for years, and I have chanted it for the past 20 years during meditation, as well as during challenging times. I love it so much that I actually have it tattooed as a bracelet around my left wrist!"
Translate it IRL: Try chanting this the next time you're out grocery shopping or quietly eating by yourself; you may feel the healing powers of food in a whole new way!
"I Open My Heart to the Universe."
"Affirmation mantras can be very powerful in your yoga practice because you will start to experience an emotional response to chanting or thinking on this mantra," comments Balfe-Taylor. "These positive mantras help our yoga practice because it reminds us to find peace in the universe and to allow others into our heart." Are you skeptical yoga won't help you check any bad feelings out the door? Throw on those stretchy pants and get your flow on, even if you're a first time yogi just looking to drop a few pounds; you'll be amazed how calming and motivational a class can be after a bad day or fight with a friend or loved one.
Translate it IRL: Try starting your day with this mantra; a positive beginning to each new day can only help. Looking to melt off the pounds? Then don't miss these 30 Best Breakfast Habits to Drop 5 Pounds.
"It is Coming from Me, Not at Me."
"Often we blame the world for everything going wrong, but in the traditional Tibetan Yoga philosophy [that my book] is based on, it is our perceptions that create our experiences and our world," offers Imparato. "Try shifting the perspective and you will instantly be happier and calmer." Sometimes, you may even find it helpful to think about a particularly challenging move in yoga class: "Where am I stretching from?" as opposed to "Where am I stretching to?" Is it from a place of energy and positivity? Or are you stretching to a place of competition and so you can prove yourself to others?
Translate it IRL: Try applying that same profound quote to life's obstacles. (Are you stretching from a place of kindness and motivation towards that new job? Or are you just stretching to it because you want to settle for security, even if it's not the right fit?) You may just be surprised on what insights you unlock from inner observations. For more motivation, take a peek at these 40 Tips for Motivation That Actually Work.
"The simple 'om' mantra is great for your body because it causes a vibration through your belly and your nose," says Balfe-Taylor. "The sound is felt in your vocal cords and sinuses, which helps to clear up the airways. The vibrations also calm down the nervous system and lowers blood pressure, releasing the stresses and anxieties of our day." And did we mention yoga fights food cravings and improves immunity?
Translate it IRL: Just go ahead and reread that last sentence about yoga helping to fight food cravings and improving immunity! So get your om on, already.
Folks, we're not talking about those fixins' in your omelet. "'So ham' is Sankrit for 'I am that,'" shares Gottfried. "This quote inspires me to be the strongest, best version of myself I can be. Sometimes, when you're holding a challenging yoga pose like birds of paradise or crow, it's helpful to remind yourself that you are that person who can and will persevere even when things get hard."
Translate it IRL: Many people fail at their health and weight loss goals. But you are not a quitter. Repeat "So ham" as you hold that pose, plank, or barre plié for just a little bit longer… (Psst! These are the 7 Best Ab Moves for Women!)
"Inhale: I Trust Me. Exhale: It Will All Come."
"We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves, especially in the almost-always uncertain and chaotic state of modern life," says Imparato. "This mantra helps bring us back to our inherent state of peace and strength and reinforce it." Sometimes, letting go of expectations can lead you in the right direction. After all, a watched pot of slimming soup, erm, water never boils.
Translate it IRL: Frustrated the scale won't budge or that you once again undercooked the fresh beets? Know that it will come; just be patient.
"I Change My Thoughts; I Change My World."
Ah, the power of a little PMA (that's shorthand for Positive Mental Attitude). "Repeating this phrase is a valuable tool on and off the mat," shares Gottfried. "Ready to give up weight lifting before that last rep? Reframe your attitude and just see how much farther you can push yourself. I find this quote helpful to tell myself outside of the yoga studio if I'm feeling down or stressed about something that I think is out of my control."
Translate it IRL: As Gottfried recommended, this mantra is particularly powerful outside the studio and in real life. If you change the way you view certain foods, fitness, and even your relationships, you change your very own world.
Simple, but powerful. "In English, the mantra 'Let go' can be very powerful. I like to link it with the breath and silently repeat 'let' on the inhalation and 'go' on the exhalation. We are so often caught up in the drama (in Sanskrit the word is 'lila', or play) of our lives and it pulls us out of and away from what is truly meaningful and important," offers Bellofatto. "For example, for me, I have this control thing in which when my house is neat and tidy, I am at ease. But when it's messy from my boyfriend, my three kids, and the dog, I spin into a state of anxiety and have to vacuum and straighten until it meets my standards. I know this is not the healthiest thing for me, so I have started using the mantra 'let go' at times when the house is freaking me out, and I just need to chill out. I know that at the end of the day, it doesn't matter, and there are more important things in life—like being present and in love!"
Translate it IRL: Research has shown that journaling your emotions can help with weight loss goals; we suspect it's that "letting go" aspect. Try repeating this mantra when feeling stressed and see what happens!
"Be Where Your Feet Are."
Whether you're on a park bench with your mason jar salad lunch or going for a jog, this five word saying captures the importance of being present. "You cannot create experiences; you must undergo it," says Gottfried. "And this quote grounds me to stay rooted in where I am at the current moment, rather than focus on the unknown future or ruminate on things from the past."
Translate it IRL: Be present, mindful, and repeat this mantra to channel more satisfaction from your every day moments.