Sounds of the Chakras: LAM VAM RAM YAM HAM OM and HAMSA!

What is Bija Mantra? Bija means seed. “The Bija mantras are one-syllable seed sounds that, when said aloud, activate the energy of the chakras in order to purify & balance the mind & body. When you speak the bija mantras, you resonate with the energy of the associated chakra, helping you focus upon your own instinctive awareness of your body & its needs.”-DailyOM

What is a chakra? In Sanskrit, chakra translates into “wheel”. These “wheels” can be thought of as vortexes that both receive & radiate energy. There are 7 major energy centers (aka chakras) in the human body. They run from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Emotions, physical health, & mental clarity affect how well each chakra can filter energy. This in turn dictates how pure the energy is that’s emitted from different regions of the body.

In traditional Hatha Yoga, the 7 cleansing bija mantras associated with the chakras are:

Chant the bija mantras, either one at a time or in sequences. Repetition can help you access a meditative state. Ready to add another layer? Try focusing on the different regions of the body associated with each syllable/chakra as you go through the bija mantras. TRY IT! Follow along with MC Yogi’s chakra beatbox video below.

7 Cleansing Mantras

  • LAM: The cleansing mantra chanted for your Root Chakra, which keeps us grounded and linked to the earth. Chanting this mantra will cleanse impurities that can collect in the root chakra – literally opening you up to feelings of security, prosperity and belonging – and clearing any blocked energy that is being prevented from moving through to the other six main energy centers. Chant “LAM” if your energy is low, you struggle financially, you suffer from low self-esteem and you suffer from adrenal fatigue and other stress-related ailments.

  • VAM:  The cleansing mantra for your Sacral Chakra, which is associated with sexuality, pleasure and creativity. Opening this chakra will open you up to others, give you the courage to express yourself and to embrace change.Chant “VAM” is you have poor self-image, find it hard to open up in relationships, feel unsatisfied sexually and suffer from low libido.

  • RAM:  This opens your Solar Plexus Chakra, the seat of your personal power. Chanting “RAM” will increase your ability to stand up for yourself, control negative impulses, and exercise greater self-control. Your self-esteem will increase as you chant “RAM” and you will become more confident and self-assured – and your frequent stomach anxiety and pains will subside!

  • shutterstock_130051625YAM:  The cleansing mantra for your Heart Chakra. You give and receive love through the energy center that is your heart chakra. If you’re not feeling loving, lovable, compassionate or experience relationship difficulties, you could use some YAM! Chant “YAM” to heal both the physical heart and the spiritual (emotional) heart center and open yourself up to unconditional love and compassion.

  • HAM:  The mantra to unblock your Throat Chakra. This is your physical and spiritual voice, your means of communicating who you are and what you need and want from yourself and the universe. The throat chakra governs your ability to express yourself – if it’s closed, you will find yourself frequently frustrated as you cannot voice your needs and desires (closing yourself off to opportunities and having your needs met); and a closed throat chakra makes honesty and integrity difficult traits to embody. The vibrations from “RAM” will open your throat chakra so that your communication energy can flow strongly.

  • AUM (or OM):  This opens your Third Eye Chakra. This is the center of your forehead and is directly in line with the center of your brain. While OM is one of the most common mantras and can be used for a wide variety of mantra meditations, it is particularly important to the cleansing and healing of your third eye chakra. The third eye chakra (or brow chakra) is the seat of intuition and life purpose. Chanting “OM” will break loose the constraints that you have imposed upon yourself by not allowing yourself to listen to your inner wisdom and using that wisdom to chart the best course for a life of purpose and passion.

  • HAMSA: The mantras for your Crown Chakra, the connection to the divine. A closed crown chakra brings about feelings of insignificance and pointlessness, leading to a disconnect from spirit and an overly strong attachment to possessions, relationships and the physical world. Some find that silence is a more effective practice for opening the crown chakra but OM may be used to open it as well. Chanting AH represents a release. Think about taking a deep breath, then letting it go. AH is the sound of releasing and letting go.  “HAMSA” – Perfection is the perfect release … up to this point each letter has finished with a closed “mmm” sound and now we do the reverse “hams-ah” and an open release!

Chakra mantras help you to clear your energy pathways so you can thrive, not just survive; this allows you to make the most of your physical life experience, creating positive physical, emotional, mental and spiritual change.

The Hamsa is one of the key concepts in Vedic, Yogic and Tantric thought. Along with the Kundalini, it holds many secrets of deeper Yoga practices. Indeed without understanding the Hamsa, the Kundalini force cannot likely be properly developed or understood.

The Hamsa as a bird is portrayed in later Sanskrit literature as a swan, which is a symbol for Prana and the inner Self that is the highest Prana. The Hamsa in Puranic thought is the vehicle for Lord Brahma, the Creator, and his consort Sarasvati Devi as the bringers of knowledge. Yet Hamsa has other meanings and there are many forms of Hamsas back to the Rigveda where the Hamsa is primarily a solar symbol, the bird of light. Hamsa is also the shyena, the hawk or falcon that steals the Soma and takes it up from the Earth to enjoy it in the freedom of the highest Heaven.

The Hamsa in Tantric thought represents the individual soul or Jiva, whose life is governed by the breath, and all the dualities of body and mind that arise from it. This is because Ha and Sa are the natural sounds of the breath through inhalation and exhalation. Many forms of Pranayama follow these sounds accordingly.

Yet at a higher level beyond duality, Ha and Sa are the natural sounds of the Self, which is the inner breath of awareness, the unitary Prana that is Self-existent and immortal. Ha is the Self as I (aham) and Sa is the Self as that or the inner Being. Hamsa also refers to the supreme or Paramahamsa, which is the liberated soul that dwells in the state of the Supreme Shiva. In this regard, Hamsa teachings are an integral part of Shiva Yoga and Shiva is also Hamsa. Hamsa as sound and prana vibration is also Om or Pranava, of which Lord Shiva is the indicator.

Hamsa represents the union of Shiva and Shakti, which are Ha and Sa, Sun and Moon, Prana and Apana, the incoming and outgoing vital energies. All dualities, starting with the breath, are a reflection of the greater two-in-one power of Shiva and Shakti, which gets divided in the lower worlds.

In terms of Tantric Yoga practices, the Hamsa represents the Shiva principle just as the Kundalini indicates the Shakti principle. Hamsa and Kundalini must unite and move together. It is the Kundalini that carries the Hamsa up the spine. At the same time, it is the Hamsa or soul energy that turns the Kundalini into a force of spiritual aspiration and ascent.

As Kundalini is the serpent power or Shakti of the soul, Hamsa is like the bird or Shiva/Purusha of the soul, whose two wings are prana and mind. Hamsa is the Jiva that seeks to fly upward to heaven, the thousand petal lotus of the head. Together Kundalini and Hamsa are the feathered serpent, or the bird that flies upward holding the serpent. Yet Kundalini is not always a serpent, it is sometimes a bird, the Hamsa itself. Similarly, the Hamsa is not always a bird; sometimes it is also a serpent. Both serpent and bird indicate electrical and ascending energy. The Hamsa is an extension or expansion of the bindu or the point-focus in its movement and expansion. Yet the Nada or vibratory principle forms its wings.

Without this soul awakening or Hamsa Chaitanya, the “consciousness of the Hamsa,” one cannot work with Kundalini Shakti in a completely harmonious manner. If the Kundalini moves without the Hamsa, it is likely to disturb our physical and subtle bodies. It is Shakti without Shiva. First one must awaken the Hamsa in order to effectively awaken the Kundalini, though both tend to manifest together. This means to awaken as an individual soul in its perennial pursuit of the Godhead.

The Hamsa is the Jiva or individual soul that must take its journey back through the chakras guided by Shakti, to realize the supreme Shiva above in the thousand petal lotus of the head. The Hamsa is propelled in its ascending movement by Nada (vibration), Bindu (concentration) and Bija (mantras), and energies the Lingas (powers of stillness) and Yonis (powers of receptivity) along the way. The Hamsa carries the Soma or nectar of delight (Amrita, Ananda) up from the lower chakras to the thousand petal lotus of the head, where it can release it in a thousand streams.

Yet there are several types and colors of Hamsa, reflecting the cosmic energies that it is working with:

  • Nila Hamsa – Dark blue Hamsa, power of electrical energy or lightning, the Vidyut Hamsa, represented by the bija mantra Krim. Here the dark blue is that of a rain cloud from which the streak of lightning arises.
  • Suvarna Hamsa – Golden Hamsa, the expansive power of the Sun and the heart, Surya Hamsa, represented by the bija mantra Hrim.
  • Shveta Hamsa – White Hamsa, the expansive power of the Moon, the Soma Hamsa, represented by the bija mantra Shrim.
  • Rakta Hamsa – Red Hamsa, the ascending force of Fire, Agni Hamsa, represented by the bija mantra Hum.

These different types of Hamsas are manifestation of the same Hamsa that is the soul in all of its manifestations. The supreme Hamsa is the liberates soul that is all the Hamsas or all forms of manifestation.

Hamsa Yoga: Shiva Hamsa Mantras

Hamsa as the sounds of Prana combines mantra and Prana in various forms of Hamsa Yoga. Hamsa mantras serve to awaken the inner consciousness and aid the soul in its ascension to Divinity. They are perhaps unparalleled in this regard. They are commonly used to promote Shiva awareness, to stimulate the Kundalini, and open the chakras. Below are a few examples.

  • Hamsa – used as the natural sound of the breath, particularly Ham as inhalation through the right nostril and Sa as exhalation through the left; relates to the day or solar breath.
  • So’ham – also used as the natural sound of the breath, particularly So as inhalation through the left nostril and Ham as exhalation through the right; relates to the night or lunar breath.
  • Hamsa Soham – combines both, and reflects the balanced movement of the unitary prana, through the unity of the Sun and Moon.
  • Shivoham – the natural resonance of the prana and mind as “I am Shiva,” the supreme Self-aware Prana.
  • Hamsa Soham Shivoham – Combined meaning of “I am he, he am I, I am Shiva.” This is the “Shiva Hamsa mantra.”
  • Om Hum Hamsa – Adds the fiery mantra Hum with Hamsa as the solar breath to arouse the Kundalini, the Agni Hamsa
  • Mantra. For example, Om Lam Hum Hamsa stimulates the Kundalini in the root chakra.
  • Hrim Hamsa Soham Svaha – Mantra to the Supreme Light, uses the solar mantra Hrim and the fire offering mantra Svaha; a Surya or Solar Hamsa mantra. Many other mantras can be added to this. Using the lunar mantra Shrim instead of Hrim, it becomes a Soma or lunar Hamsa mantra.
  • Om Hum Hamsa Soham Svaha – Mantra to the Supreme Light emphasizing Kundalini and Agni; Agni Hamsa mantra.