top of page
Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

Intentions, Mantras, and Affirmations. What's the Difference?


You will often hear the yoga teacher speak of intentions, mantras, and affirmations in my videos and others. All three are examples of intention-setting and help shift the mind and body. When used regularly, they can become powerful tools to control our reality and emotional state. Science shows that focusing the mind on the positive helps calm distracting thoughts and help heal the body.


An intention is just that, your reason. When an act is performed intentionally, each component is purposeful. Yoga and meditation practices take many different forms.

As I mention on my Spoonie Yoga Page, I incorporate many different styles within my program. Yoga can help ground and aid in transcendence. Sometimes, it can bring you right in the middle within yourself. You should create your intention based on what you need in the present. It can be broad or specific.

Setting an intention involves checking in, tuning inward, honoring where you are, and giving yourself what you need. Give yourself what you need at the moment, express it, and work towards it.

The gift of intention-setting is three-fold. First, you take a moment to notice and connect with your state. So often, we run around on auto-pilot, utterly oblivious to the stress or state of our bodies. Secondly, we get to choose a course for the future that is different from the one we've been on. We can choose to relax, take a breath, quiet the mind. Lastly, we find trust and connectedness with setting a goal, sticking to a path and completing it. Giving yourself direction and noticing accomplishments help reinforce self-efficacy and power.

So, even though you may be eager to jump into your next video trying to squeeze in 15 minutes to yourself for yourself, be sure to take the time to set an intention. It will make the practice SO MUCH better!

Sample Intentions

Let Go

Focus On The Breath


Release Negativity

Inner Strength

Stay Calm

Embrace Power

Follow My Inner Truth

Shine Light

Stay Positive

Release Guilt & Shame

Go Inward

Stay Present




While you probably already understood intention, mantra might be a new one for some of you. A Sanskrit word from Hindu and Buddhism meaning "a tool for the mind," a mantra is a word or phrase repeated that helps with concentration, which calms the mind to a relaxed state. It helps us stay focused on the present. We all have a constant stream of thought going through our minds, known as the vrittis in yoga. More in-depth on those 2 weeks from now.

Mantras are traditionally sounds like Om, which frequency also has positive vibrational benefits. For example, a study of women aged 50-60 with hypertension who participated in daily morning OM chanting found a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic pressure, pulse rate, depression, anxiety, and stress. (1) Another study noted a positive impact on pulmonary functioning with pranayama (breath regulation) and OM chanting in healthy individuals. (2) Try these original mantras to see how it feels.

You will feel silly at first because the language is different, but once you overcome that and embrace the meaning, you may find additional benefits from the change of pace. For example, traditional mantras incorporate specific vocal cord frequencies known for relaxation. If you read my chakra post from last week, in addition to the list of characteristics, each chakra also has a corresponding sound frequency, part of an ancient 6-tone scale used for Georgian chanting of the Roman Catholic Church. Read more about that next week in my post on Solfeggio Healing Frequencies here.

While the ancient chants are tried and true for some people, they aren't for everyone. If you aren't feeling it, the good news is that a mantra can also be a phrase that works for you. It just needs to be something easy to repeat and to focus your mind on. So, you don't want anything too difficult. Just like intentions, you should be honoring where you are and what you need. Check out the list of modern mantras below.

This sounds simple, but trust me, it takes a lot of practice to be honest about, accept, and then love where you are genuinely at and what you truly need. We have these wonderful things called egos that get in the way. This is why it is so important to embrace the habit of connecting with yourself before you begin your asana yoga practice or meditation session. Sticking with one mantra for several weeks provides the most benefit.

Mantras can be used at any time, but I find the most effective during meditation or long hold times in poses. If you suffer from anxiety, mantras can be a great tool with pranayama to control attacks and reframe negative thought patterns. Some teachers may focus a class on a mantra. Feel free to change it if it doesn't suit you! Remember that yoga is deeply personal and meant to strengthen the connection to the true self even when performed in unison in class—honor that.

Traditional Mantras

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
pronounced 'lo-ka saa-ma-sta su-keen-o baa-van-'oo' means “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by our suffering. One of the best ways to shift our mood is to focus on love for others. We are bringing our attention outside ourselves in a positive light. When we embrace compassion and love for others, we start to find the same love for ourselves.

pronounced ‘Aah-ham-pree-'ah’ means "I am divine love."

If you have been hard on yourself or are feeling guilty about the past, this mantra can help bring you peace and a fresh start.

pronounced ho-oh-pono-pono-ono means "I love you I'm sorry; please forgive me; thank you."

Hawaiian in origin, this mantra is good for relationship troubles. It helps to relieve lingering anger and shame, helping you focus on opening your heart and humbling yourself.

Lumen de Lumine
pronounced 'loo-men day loo-men'na' means "light from li"ht"

A Latin prayer helps to connect you to your higher power.

Sat Nam
pronounced 'saat 'om' means "I am the truth"

A small but powerful mantra that helps activate all chakras that are often used in Kundalini Yoga. It helps to inspire bravery and connection with self-truth or your true identity. If you are feeling lost, this is a great one.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo pronounced ooooong naa Mooo (inhale) g'roooooo daaaaaaaay na mooooo means "I bow to the Creator, to the Divine Teacher Within"

A popular traditional mantra that is typically practiced by repeating 108 times. Its purpose is to connect you with your inner truth and the creative wisdom within us.

Modern Mantras (SCL Health suggested the following)

General Wellness

“My mind is brilliant. My body is healthy. My spirit is tranquil.”


“I create my own path and walk it with joy."

“My positive thoughts guide me to new heights."

“I am conquering my fears and becoming stronger each day."

“I will have a good day because it's my choice."

“I am not afraid to be wrong.”


“My body is a temple. I keep my temple clean."

“I hold the key to better health through eating better and exercise."

“Good health is a practice, and I have patience."

“I listen to my body and give it what it needs.”

“Every cell in my body is alive and beautiful.”


“My potential is limitless, and I choose where to spend my energy."

“While I support others, I also ask for help when needed."

“I surrender to the flow and have faith in the ultimate good."

“I will speak with confidence and self-assurance."

“My commitment to myself is unbreakable.”


What they are...

Last but not least are affirmations. Just as it sounds, affirmations are meant to reinforce the positive and motivating centers of your life. Think of it as telling yourself what you want to believe. You may not believe it all yet; you may be doubting it that day, but something inside says, if you believed X to be true, you would feel a lot better. So whatever area you find yourself negatively thinking about, explore ways to reframe it, to change your perspective.

When to use them...

Affirmations are great to use at the beginning of your practice or when finding stillness in challenging asanas (poses). My favorite time is during Shavasana (the relaxing corpse pose) at the end of practice. We have typically rebalanced and are open to shifts and positive thoughts by this point. Leaving practice with positive, loving, focused energy will influence the rest of your day.

Sample Affirmations

I am enough

I have talents

I am loved

I am strong

I have a voice

I can do anything

I am powerful

I am free

I have a choice

I am valuable

I have many gifts

It is all OK

Everything is exactly as it is supposed to be

I'm exactly where I am supposed to be

Hopefully, this post has helped clarify the difference between intentions, mantras, and affirmations. These are three powerful tools that everyone should use with any yoga or meditation practice. These are also great to use throughout your day. A thorough review of mindfulness research shows that it can influence the brain, autonomic nervous system, stress hormones, immune system and affect health behaviors like eating and sleeping. (3) Practicing without mindfulness is missing out on the true benefits. So next time you take the time to roll out your mat or tune in from your bed, make sure you are setting an intention, choosing a mantra, and ending your practice with affirmations to carry you throughout your day. Much love!



1. Beneficial effects of OM chanting on depression, anxiety, stress, and cognition in

elderly women with hypertension.

2. Effect of Bhramari pranayama and OM chanting on pulmonary function in healthy individuals: A prospective randomized control trial.

3. Mindfulness Research Update: 2008.


bottom of page