When I first was exposed to chanting in yoga, I just wasn’t sure about it. It wasn’t really that I was too worried about what the chant said; it was more discomfort with my own voice, particularly in a language that I did not know. And I wasn’t convinced that there was any real value. But, I’m also a rule follower, so I gave it a try. And I realized that there was something about the chanting and the resonance of the sound in my head and chest that made me feel amazing, connected, relaxed, and unified with everything and everyone. Now, I pretty much love to chant and do so whenever I can (despite the fact that one of my kids told me it sounded like I was summoning demons to consume her soul).
In a yoga practice, we primarily chant to create union (with others, with Self, with the divine) and send our positive energy out into the world. But, chanting has been shown to also have very real physical effects. Studies of the impact of chanting by neuro-scientist Dr. Alan Watkins, neuro-scientist Dr. Marian Diamond, and physician and psychologist Dr. Alfred Tomatis, among others, have found that chanting decreases physical stress levels, heart rate, and blood pressure while it increases immune system functions and healing.
There are so many wonderful chants that can be part of a yoga class or stand on their own. Three of my favorites are posted below. If you don’t currently have chanting as part of your yoga practice, try it out. You can do so alone (using the wealth of information online), find a group or class to work with, or check around for a Kirtan session going on in your area. However you do it, belt out a few. It can’t hurt and it just might help.