Yoga isn't this new and trendy thing to me. It was an elective I picked up in community college. I didn't expect to be good at it. I didn't expect to feel less fatigue as a result. I didn't do it to get in shape or to be more flexible. I didn't read books about the Kemetic backstory of the practice or do the research to learn who Paramahansa Yogananda was. It started out as a class to get me one semester elective closer to transferring to a 4-year school. But it turned into three semesters and later became both the practice I live by and my method of self-transformation. Since I began learning about and practicing different styles of yoga I've been introduced to mantras.

What is a mantra?

Simply put, a mantra is a sacred spoken word, utterance or phrase that connects one to awareness and encourages enlightenment. Mantras are believed to be spiritually transformative and promote clear thinking and deep meditation. It was Nikola Tesla that said, "If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." To that end, imagine how impactful intention is. When you amplify that intention with words and conviction, you alter your reality.

What is a mantra used for?

According to the Yoga Journal, a mantra is used in both physical and spiritual realms, having meaningful functions that "instill within the reciter a particular spiritual doctrine and to serve as a vehicle for meditation."

Here are seven mantras to know:

1. Om

Meaning: The sound of the universe. It's the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process. According to MindBodyGreen, the modern adaptation of chanting the sound Om has been proven to bring us into harmonic resonance with the universe. (Om vibrates at 432 Hertz, a natural musical pitch, as opposed to 440 Hertz, the frequency of most modern music.)

2. Sat Nam 

Meaning: True name. It's a call to your higher self. This mantra strengthens the divine consciousness in everyone. It's used as a greeting as well as the mantra for Kundalini Yoga exercises. To inhale is to breathe in Sat, or truth, and to exhale Nam, or your true name, self.

3. Aad Guray Nameh, Jugaad Guray Nameh, Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guru Dav-vay Nameh

Meaning: I bow to the primal Source of Creation, I bow to the truth that has existed throughout the ages, I bow to True Wisdom, I bow to the Great Divine Wisdom This mantra is for guidance and protection. Yogi Bhajan taught that this mantra should always be chanted three times in a row.

4. Har

Meaning: Creative infinity, a name of God. I just recently learned this mantra. It's used to generate and cultivate creative energy. It's the mantra of prosperity. It's great if you need encouraging energy for new beginnings, developing new habits or taking on new projects. It's the easiest way to add richness to your life.

5. Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo

Meaning: I call upon the Divine Wisdom, I call upon the divine teacher that is within. Yogi Bhajan taught this ancient yogic mantra as a tool to relate instantly to the divine teacher within. It is most often used to tune in before Kundalini Yoga classes, to center us and to spiritually guide both the teacher and the students during the class.

6. Gobinday Mukunday Udaaray Apaaray Hariang Kariang Nirnamay Akamay

Meaning: Sustainer, Liberator, Enlgihtener, Infinite, Destroyer, Creator, Nameless, Desireless This mantra is used to break through deep-seated blocks. According to Yogi Bhajan, it helps to "cleanse the subconscious mind" and "it balances the hemispheres of the brain, bringing compassion and patience to the one who meditates on it."

7. Om Mani Padme Hum

Meaning: It's kind of hard to put into words but its meaning is profound. These six syllables help to bring the person who recites them into pure understanding. In a lecture given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet at the Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center in New Jersey, he says "in dependence on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure body, speech and mind of a Buddha." and in Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche says, “So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?” It's said you should not seek Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the achievement of Buddhahood are within. Let your life mantra mirror the one within.