Onyx Yoga Studio 


45 Mountain Blvd


Warren, NJ 07059


“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” Starts With You

by Shannon Elliott
edited by Chris Myers

march_img“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” is one of the most popular chants in our yoga classes.  It’s also one of my personal favorites. What it means is, “May all beings be happy and free from suffering.  And may the thoughts, words, and actions in my own life in some way contribute to that happiness and that freedom for all.”  (This includes you!)  My relationship, understanding, and experience with this prayer have changed throughout my years of practice.  It started out as a sweet idea to me.  Over time, it has developed into something much deeper.  Now it is becoming integrated into my cells. 

This prayer needs to start with you.  How can you deepen this connection of love and service to yourself?  We first must look inside and feed our inner soul.  I have found that being present allows me to experience this chant viscerally.  When I am present, I am in touch with my intuitive nature and I know how to take care of myself.  Sometimes that comes in the form of a hot or cold meal, an early night of sleep, staying up late writing, a bubble bath, or a ten mile run.  It ALWAYS comes with studentship (study under my wise teachers), meditation practice (time with myself in silence), and a mat practice (the type and time varies).

How do we create this experience so that it is sustainable? Our culture really pushes the notion that 110% is the way to go, that more is better, and that you must work hard to gain reward.  Our yoga culture (but ironically not the yoga teachings!) is often filled with this same mentality as well.  At times our yoga culture pushes more asana, harder sequences, deeper stretches, and ass-kicking classes.  That yields a false sense of feeling accomplished.  I might suggest we are keeping ourselves so busy on our mat that it doesn’t give us any time to get to the real stuff.  The hardest yoga class is the one in which we must sit with ourselves, tune in, and develop trust inside.  That is yoga and that is where “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” truly begins.  When we always try to practice at 110% we will eventually burn out.  It is simply not sustainable.  We then break down and are forced by the universe to rest.  However if we hadn’t practiced in this unsustainable way in the first place, we would not have depleted our energy so that much rest was needed.  Once “recovered,” we bounce back to 110% and restart the cycle again.   What chaos…

In order to move closer toward a state of inner happiness and freedom from suffering, we must refine our thoughts, words, and actions to embody love for ourselves. This doesn’t look the same in every single moment.  Sometimes it means taking child’s pose.  Sometimes it means longer holds in poses.  It always means meeting yourself where you are in each moment.  We must learn to use all parts of ourselves in an optimal way.  For example, on the mat we may overuse the muscles in our face, neck, upper back, and shoulders but we underuse our core.  The sustainability comes when we learn where to let go and soften the tense places and engage the places that have fallen asleep. 

When our attitude is aligned with “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu” we shift from an outer experience of the physical world to an internal experience of love.  If we take these inner actions, this prayer will be answered.  As we get in touch with our true nature, we devote our inner being to increasing our happiness and freedom from suffering.  This in turn inevitably allows us to have our thoughts, words, and actions be there to help others in ways never experienced before.  It’s simply remarkable how much you can help other people once you start seriously taking care of yourself first. 

May this writing spark something in you.  May you connect and move from love which is the being that you are. 

Questions to consider (Studentship):

  • Do you listen? 
  • How are you in relationship with yourself? 
  • How are you in relationship with others? 
  • How are you in relationship to your thoughts, words, and actions? 

Chanting Practice (Mantra Meditation): 

  • Chant “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.” Sing it and really get into it.  Allow yourself to let go and just be open to fully feeling the prayer’s power.
  • Play recordings of “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.” A couple of my personal favorites are:
  • Girish’s “Diamonds in the Sun.”
  • Sharon Gannon’s “Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.”

(On the Mat) Practice: 

  • At the beginning of your practice, sit and in tune in by saying this prayer as an intention for your practice and allow it to weave through your being as you move on the mat.  End this way too.


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