Salutation created by Diana Shields, SOYA 500Hr Teacher in Vancouver, BC. Article by Mugs McConnell, ERYT500, SOYA, past Canadian Representative for IYTA . Revised reprint from 2014

In 2009, the late Namadeva Acharya (Thomas Ashley- Farrand offered a mantra workshop on the sacred Gayatri Mantra, including an initiation into the mantra. Diana Shields was inspired to create a Gayatri Mantra salutation that has taken a stronghold in my practice. It is a beautiful way to express this sacred mantra through the graceful movements of the body. Before we introduce you to the salutation, let’s learn a bit about the Gayatri Mantra.

The Goddess Gayatri is an incarnation of Saraswati. The Gayatri Mantra appears in three of the four Vedas, so she is considered the mother of the Vedas. This goddess represents knowledge and is the bestower of enlightenment. Her image is usually seated on a pink lotus flower with a Swan. She has 10 hands carrying sacred items such as the conch shell, the lotus flower, a chakra, a sunflower, a golden mace, and a rudraksha mala. The Gayatri Mantra is written in an arc over her head like a halo.

Goddess Gayatri has the mantra in a halo around her head.

Prana becomes energized with this mantra. The Gayatri Mantra has 3 lines of 8 syllables, creating a Vedic meter of 24 syllables. The number of syllables in a mantra is very important and not taken lightly as it relates to the power of the mantra. Many claim the Gayatri mantra is highly sacred, second only to the mantra Om. Namadeva called it the “essence of all mantras.”

You can count the 24 syllables:

Tat Savitur Varenyam, Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, Dheeyo Yonaha Prachodayat. 

This mantra is calling on the Divine Almighty Supreme Sun, that we may receive the grace of Divine Light, illuminating our minds and guiding our intellect in the right direction. The Gayatri is the most potent meditation on spiritual light, and prepares our mind and intellect to have the capacity to receive enlightenment. Namadeva likened this to a “wiring of our intellectual-mental equipment for the receipt and processing of spiritual knowledge.”  

Usually the Gayatri mantra is precluded with the words “Bhur Bhuvaha Svaha”. Bhur is the physical plane (made up of the elements). Bhuvaha is the astral plane (where prana flows, composed of the 5 prana vayus). Svaha is the plane of the thinking mind (where we seek knowledge). These three planes represent the three lower chakras.

The Goddess Gayatri has five faces: Lakshmi, Saraswati, Durga, Radha and Bhu Devi. Each Goddess represents a power of manifestation: knowledge, speech, protection, bliss and the power of the earth.  These five faces also represent the five elements (Bhur) from which the body and all of creation is made: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. Prana is required to bring life and movement to all of creation, so her five faces represent the five prana vayus; prana, apana, vyana, udana, samana. Prana flows through the nadis in the astral body (Bhuvaha). As the mother of the Vedas, Gayatri represents the mind, intellect, and knowledge (Svaha).

A stone statue depicting the 5 faces and 10 arms of the goddess Gayatri

There is also a long form to the Gayatri mantra, which addresses the seven planes of existence, or the energies of the seven major chakras:

BHUR – earth, the physical world of elements, Muladhara Chakra 

BHAVAHA – astral, the atmosphere, prana and breath, Svadhishthana Chakra 

SVAHA – mental, the world of thinking, the Solar region of choice to explore beyond the physical and into the spiritual, Manipura Chakra 

MAHA – causal, emotion, the world of ideas, the silent mind, Anahata Chakra 

JANAHA – world of bliss, ananda, Vishuddhi Chakra

TAPAHA – world of intuition, Ajna Chakra 

SATYAM – world of Absolute Truth, Sahasrara Chakra

Gayatri initiation with Namadeva Acharaya (Thomas Ashley Farrand)

After each repetition you can add a “bija mantra” or seed sound for your chosen Deity, such a Gum for Ganesha or Shrim for Lakshmi. I remember so well when Namadeva initiated us into the mantra. It was in Kelowna and we held the weekend workshop at the Rotary Centre of the Arts. We spent a lot of time learning about the Goddess Gayatri through the stories that Namadeva told so well. We did the Gayatri Puja and we chanted an abundance of mantras for her. When finally we were offered the opportunity for initiation into the mantra, each of us took our turn receiving the power of this mantra transmitted through Namadeva. Everyone had an “experience”. You could see it on their faces when they got up afterward!

I don’t know what their experience was like, but mine was unlike any other!  I settled into the chair beside Namadeva and he started to say the sacred mantra to my left ear, adding my chosen bija mantra at the end of each repetition.  He said it over and over again.  I have no idea how long he said it as time disappeared.  In the midst of the mantra I felt something like a green “beanstalk” (for lack of a better description) growing from my feet upwards through my body and out my arms and ears, eyes and head.  Immediately, the green turned to gold and it was as though every nadi in my body was filled and overflowing with vibrant gold!  When it was over, I was completely blissed out.  I have marveled over the amazing joy I experienced

Interestingly, as I began to research this article I came across a picture of the Goddess Gayatri,by Indian artist Raja Ravi Verma, with a green “beanstalk” growing from her feet and up around her! The roots of the lotus flower, coiled beneath us and supporting our growth, waiting until called upon, and then blossoming in the light of Truth.

And then I found an image of the nadis, all turned to gold – how Perfect!

There is a passage in the Siva Samhita that says, “It sleeps there like a serpent, and is luminous by its own light. Like a serpent it lives between the joints; it is the goddess of speech, and is called the seed. Full of energy, and like burning gold, know this Kundalini to be the power (shakti) of Vishnu; it is the mother of the three qualities – sattva, rajas and tamas.”

Goddess Gayatri by Raja Ravi Verma

My point is this is ONE AMAZING MANTRA! I love it! Say it 108 times and see what happens! Hear it in your mind, feel it in your soul, and move it through your body! Taste its flavor and beckon its light to radiate from your insides out!

I am hooked on this mantra. I say it with my mala beads, with hand mudras, with finger-tip touching, during the “hold” in my asanas, and in this delightful, long-form Gayatri Salutation. This Gayatri Salutation is a beautiful practice, turning it into a sacred prayer for your body, mind and spirit. Thank you Diana, for creating this wonderful sequence!

And now, for the Long Form Gayatri Mantra Salutation!

Gayatri Mantra Salutation


Silver Goddess Gayatri with Mantra image purchased in India by Mugs.Gayatri Mantra salutation by Diana Shields, with added Bija mantras from Mugs

Image of Gayatri by Raja Rami Varma

Classic drawing of the Nadis, circa nineteenth-century Tibet (attributed to the prophet Ratnasara).

The Siva Samhita, Translation by Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vasu, Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers PVT. LTD. 1975 India, Chapter 5: 58-59, p. 63

Chakra Mantras, Thomas Ashley-Farrand, 2006, Weiser Boos, San Francisco, CA USA, p. 158-159.



Marion Mugs McConnell is the co-founder of SOYA and the SOYA Yoga Teacher Training program. This year she celebrates 51 years of yoga and continues to dedicate her life to this amazing path, revealing the gems of true, classical yoga. 

Mugs is the author of Letters from the Yoga Masters: Teachings Revealed through Correspondence from Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Sivananda, and Others, published by North Atlantic Books copyright © 2016 ISBN 978-1-62317-035-6.