Japa is one of the most important spiritual Sadhana in yoga, japa is the silent form of sadhana by which ones body and mind is engaged in a state of absorption. A Japa mantra which is chanted should be given by a Guru who established in japa, more a disciple who is qualified enough in the spiritual journey is initiated by the Guru at the appropriate time. In yogic tradition certain mantras are considered as most auspicious and are established by the yogis over thousands of years of japa. Yogic tradition endorses the freedom to choose ones own God, male or female. In yogic tradition a male and female is addressed as Purusha, the indweller of the body. Lord has no gender in yogic tradition, so can be invoked as He or She. A sadhaka has the freedom to choose his God as male of female as the Ishta Devata ( God of ones Choice). Lord is invoked as a whole in any particular form as wished by a devotee, one limitless, all knowing and all powerful is involved in a particular form and worshipped. Generally the teacher ask his disciples about their Ishta Devata, accordingly only Mantras are chooses and initiated. Japa has two important immediate benefits, one is the grace of ones Ishta Devata by propitiating in repeated salutations places on the lotus feet of the Lord. Example if I chant "(Aum Nama Shivaya" means my salutations to Lord Shiva) the chanting goes to Shiva, Who is all pervading, and the cause behind the un manifestation of the manifested world, He is responsible to answer your prostration. Your wish may be for riches , name , fame , prosperity, heavenly life or libration from limitations of the worldly life etc. is given as a result of the chanting , this is endorsed by the yoga Shastras. The second most important benefit is arresting the wandering mind. Mind is jest thoughts only, these thoughts comes and goes, mostly the thoughts are not connected, mind is engaged in thinking and this process goes on and on all the time until one fall asleep. Japa engages the mind in area of contemplation. Chanting is a way of preparing the mind into ones command. Minds and mental energy can be conserved and preserved by the chanting. Thought process upon which we have no control, because it's thoughts are momentary, anything can be the next thought, if we employ our mind into one job like chanting it can stay there focused for length of time by constant practice with determination. Mind my run here and there in the beginning but regular practice can stop the mind from disintegration.
The tradition says 'Jakaro Janma Vichedaha' means the letter 'Ja' in japa indicate disconnection from worldly life, the letter 'Pa' stands for the liberation from result of papa karmas ( un righteous) actions done knowingly or unknowingly in the previous life or in this life. In yogic tradition life is carry forward from what we left over from the previous life's. It's said Impressions of previous karmas deeply imprinted in our deeper mind. The mind alone with Prana flys away from a body and enter into a new body. The present life is Unfolding the result of karmas did in the past, good and bad karma result unfolded as pleasant and unpleasant situations in life. In certain life forms like animals, trees and tiny life forms etc , they jest only get rid of the result of their unrighteousness actions done in their previous, they are not accumulating any new karmas in this life, where as humans accumulates new karmas in their account, this is because of their higher intellect of discrimination and limitless freedom in doing actions. Humans are free in doing actions, one can do an action, not do or do it differently, this freedom makes him superior to other living beings. This freedom can also miss use in hurting , inflicting injuries, pain and even killings. Every actions produces visible and invisible result, miss use the freedom and transgress the Dharma ( righteousness) is papa which attract its result as painful experiences in this life or the next. We also do not know what Punya and papa karmas standing in our account, in order to dilute the results of papa karmas and gain more inner freedom to accept the result of the unfolding papa karmas and the inner attitude to accept the result gracefully so that a person can live a life of inner equilibrium. More over the impurities of the mind such as longing, anger and greed can wash away by the power of chanting, more over Japa can also dilute the mind from sensual fancies.
Japa is considered as a ritual in yogic tradition. There are numerous rituals and the way of performing it also mentioned in elaboration in the Vedas. The bulk portion of the Vedas explains the rituals, rituals are a part of the Vedic tradition. Different stages in life one has to perform different rituals. These rituals may vary from a student to household. Every human being is suppose to do rituals in their different stages of life which differs according to their stage in life. A Brahmachary is suppose to chant Gayatri mantra, which is one of the most auspicious and most powerful Japa, tradition claimed that the chanting of it is equal to chanting the whole Vedas. A person committed to chanting Gayati is blessed with effluent intellect and knowledge. A house holder is suppose to do Agnihotra named fire ritual daily, this is a ritual which husband and wife together suppose to do. This knowledge is given by the Vedas. In yogic tradition Veda is the final authority and considered as the Pramana ( Proof) in every context. In yogic tradition, Consuming food is a also considered as ritual, the food offered to the fire of Prana, before offering the food to the Prana there is a prayer which is very essential in the tradition, the food is offered to the universal force which in the form of Prana in our body which regulates and controls all the functions and Prana is life and departure of Prana is death. There are rituals for prosperity, riches, name, fame , good health, good family life , better harvest, better rain, progeny, heaven and so on. Among all the rituals Japa is considered as the most auspicious. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishnan says " yajnanaama Japayajnoasmi" means among all the rituals I am the ritual called Japa, that much significance the yogic tradition attributed to Japa. Jiiva (individual being ) due to its attachment to the worldly things keep on doing rituals for the worldly possessions, these possessions only limit them in attaining the limitlessness. Maharshi Veda Vyasa presented Lord Krishnan as the limitless consciousness and the embodiment of all knowledge and wisdom in Bhagavad Gita, attain Him is considered as the final goal in yogic tradition, Japa is considered as an easy way to reach Him.
Yogic scriptures endorsed the significance of Japa, in Yoga Sutras Maharshi Patanjali acknowledge the significance of Japa in line with Vedic tradition. He stated Japa as " Tajjapastadarthabhavanam" means that (Aum) should be chanted focused on its meaning. Patanjali emphasizes the importance of keeping the mind engaged with the meaning of ones Japa. General tendency of the mind is that it dis engage from the areas of contemplation. In order to avoid, he suggested that sadhakas should engage their mind in absorbing the meaning and involve the mind in the meaning of the chant. If our mind is not engage in the meaning of the Japa, then the mind has a tendency to entertain numerous thoughts, and Japa remains a oral action only thereafter. In yogic tradition a renunciate is suppose to chant Aum all the time. Aum is powerful enough to distract the mind from all its worldly temptations and dilute can it. Aum is considered as the most auspicious sound symbol in the entire yoga Shastras. The singing syllable Aum is the substratum of the universe as claimed in the Vedas. In Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishnan says " Aum iti ekaksheram Brahmaha" , means Aum is the single syllables representing the Lord, It also said Lord is represented as Aum and chanting it's enough in disconnecting a jiiva from the worldly limitations. Aum stands for the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the univers. Aum is the beginning and end in yoga, every yoga classes commence with Aum and end with Aum, more over every recitation of mantras starts with Aum and end with Aum. Tradition says A house hold is not suppose to chant Aum alone rather they may add something along with Aum, example Aum Namashivaya, Aum Namo Narayanaya etc. one should repeat Aum and engage the mind in its profound meanings.
Japa is one of the most effective yogic tool to gain stability in yoga sadhana. My master Baba ji Maharaj used to tell us that " Japaat Siddhihi" means by doing Japa one gets all the accomplishments said the yoga Shastras. Japa is the most inevitable part of yoga practices. From a beginner to a advance practitioner Japa is most effective in regulating the mind and conserving mental energy. Mind is the most important faculty which is very effectively addressed in yoga. My personal practice also shows my improvement in yoga sadhana after commencing the Japa. It not only helps stop my disintegrated mind but also improve my concentration and memory which helps me in my study and profession. I suggest all yoga lovers to incorporate Japa in their daily yoga sadhana, more over one can use his free time engaged in chanting which helps eradicate unwanted thinking. Japa is a very unique way of engaging a person into the higher stages in yoga. Find your rhythm by regular and committed practice of Japa and firm yourself in yogic path. If a sadhaka do not know how to proceed further, Japa helps the way and Japa becomes your path finder. The grace of Japa will lead a sadhaka to find his appropriate guidance and right Guru at the right time.