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Mauna: Why is noble silence so powerful?

Updated: Apr 17

Focus of the month - June 2023

written by Uta Eismann

Yoga is a transformative practice that extends beyond the physical realm, offering a path towards inner peace and self-realization.

While yoga postures (Asana) and breathwork (Pranayama) play significant roles in this journey, the true essence of yoga lies in cultivating a deeper connection with oneself and the world around us.

One way to deepen this connection is by incorporating Mauna, the noble silence, onto the yoga mat. Yoga teacher trainings, no matter if you do them intensive within four weeks or spread over a few months, offer you a transformative journey of self-discovery and growth. As part of my recent 300-hour yoga teacher training, I experienced Mauna in a very profound way. We practiced Mauna every night after Satsang (exchange and chanting in the group) until the next morning after practice. Around 13 hours of noble silence. It was a truly wonderful, but also challenging experience.

What is Mauna? Mauna, derived from Sanskrit, translates to "silence" or "stillness." It refers to more than just the absence of external noise; it signifies an inner stillness, a state of mindful awareness where unnecessary speech is restrained. Mauna is not merely about remaining quiet; it encompasses observing the thoughts that arise within us and consciously choosing when and how to speak. The concept of Mauna entails observing silence, both external and internal, to cultivate inner stillness and clarity. As I committed on this practice during my yoga teacher training, I initially found it challenging to abstain from verbal communication. However, the process gradually allowed me to redirect my energy inward and heighten my awareness of my thoughts, emotions, and surroundings.

How often do we talk without saying anything? How often do we talk without reflecting on the outcome of our words? How often do we talk but we rather want to be quiet?

In the absence of verbal communication (and I love talking) I discovered the profound beauty of listening. Listening to your thoughts can be challenging, as you might get confronted with inner beliefs you carry with yourself already for a long time, repetitive thought patterns etc. But with committing to the practice of Mauna every night, I noticed that my thoughts became more and more quiet. By honing my listening skills, I became more attuned to the subtle sounds of nature, the rhythm of my breath, and the wisdom within my own being. This deepened sense of presence not only enhanced my yoga practice but also transformed the way I engaged with others and the world around me. During periods of Mauna, I discovered an unexplored depth within myself. By silencing the chatter of external influences and internal thoughts, I was able to forge a strong connection with my inner self. I delved into my true desires, fears, and aspirations, enabling me to approach my yoga practice with authenticity and vulnerability. This profound self-exploration empowered me to become a more compassionate and intuitive yoga teacher. Inviting and welcoming silence as a tool to fully listen within to then act from this point of inner stability.

Mauna serves as a gateway to a deeper understanding of yoga and its teachings. Through the practice of noble silence, I was able to cultivate a heightened level of mindfulness and tap into a rich internal landscape. This allowed me to dive into Asanas, Pranayama, and Meditation with an enhanced level of focus, subtlety, and awareness. It changes a lot when you are not talking before practicing in the morning and the night before. I experienced a true connection and awareness to myself and everyone around me. The silence became a guiding force, helping me attune to the energy of the present moment and create a harmonious flow within my practice. Surprisingly, Mauna, which may seem lonely & isolating, fostered a profound sense of community and connection among my fellow trainees. We bonded through non-verbal communication, mutual support, and shared experiences. The unspoken understanding and compassion we developed transcended words, creating a sacred space of unity and belonging. I noticed that when we were “officially allowed to speak” – actually little things you used to chatter around on a regular basis, became less and less important. Our conversations got even deeper and more profound instead. Mauna became a powerful reminder that connection can exist beyond the realm of speech.

How to integrate Mauna in your day-to-day life The practice of Mauna did not end with the yoga teacher training; it has become an integral part of my daily life. By incorporating periods of noble silence into my routine, for example in the morning, I continue to nurture my inner stillness and cultivate a deeper connection with myself and the world around me. This practice has also influenced my teaching style, allowing me to create a space of reverence and introspection for my students.

Mauna on the mat

  1. Clear Intention: Set your intention before stepping onto the mat, emphasizing your commitment to practicing Mauna. Clarify why you are embracing silence and how it can enhance your yoga journey.

  2. Prepare your Space: Create a peaceful and uncluttered practice space that promotes tranquility. Make sure to remove any distractions that may hinder your focus. Try from time to time to even practice without music.

  3. Breath Awareness: Start your practice by anchoring your attention on your breath. Use this simple technique to calm the mind and establish a foundation of stillness. Your breath is always your highest teacher.

  4. Let Go of Verbal Expression: As you move through your asana sequence, consciously release the urge to speak. Instead, focus on the sensations in your body, the alignment of your postures, and the rhythm of your breath.

  5. Observe your Inner Dialogue: Notice the thoughts that arise during your practice without judgment. Allow them to come and go, maintaining your focus on the present moment. When unnecessary thoughts emerge, gently redirect your attention back to the practice.

  6. Closing Meditation: Finish your practice with a silent meditation, allowing yourself to bask in the stillness you've cultivated. Observe the effects of Mauna on your mind, body, and spirit, and carry that sense of tranquility with you throughout the day.

Incorporating Mauna onto the yoga mat can deepen our connection to ourselves and the practice of yoga. By embracing stillness and observing silence, we enhance self-awareness, concentration, and mindfulness. As we let go of unnecessary verbalization and turn our attention inward, we open the door to a more profound experience of yoga, ultimately leading us towards inner peace and self-realization and acceptance.

The regular practice of Mauna will gain you’re a deeper understanding of:

  • Enhanced Self-Awareness: Observing silence on the yoga mat allows us to turn our attention inward, heightening our self-awareness. Without the constant chatter of our minds and external distractions, we can better tune into the sensations and experiences of our body, breath, and emotions.

  • Deepening Concentration: Mauna promotes focus and concentration, enabling us to delve deeper into our yoga practice. By eliminating unnecessary verbalization, we conserve mental energy, directing it towards staying present and fully engaged in each posture, breath, and movement.

  • Cultivating Mindfulness: The practice of Mauna encourages mindfulness, which is the art of paying attention to the present moment with non-judgmental awareness. Engaging in a silent yoga practice helps us develop a mindful approach, allowing us to savor each movement, breath, and transition, fostering a sense of peace and contentment.

My experiences of Mauna during my 300-hour yoga teacher training were truly

transformative. The practice of noble silence opened doors to self-discovery, deepened my yoga practice, and fostered a sense of connection and community. Embracing Mauna allowed me to listen more attentively, connect with my inner self, and approach my yoga practice with authenticity and vulnerability.

Give it a try!

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