Yoga is a spiritual, physical and mental practice rooted in ancient Indian culture. It is meant to help people cultivate a sense of awareness both in themselves and the world around them. The practice of yoga has evolved throughout the years, but its combination of both physical and mental exercise is still believed to carry many health benefits.
While some choose to practice traditional yoga, others may find it helpful to apply just certain elements of the practice to their daily lives. Some of these include physical postures, breathing exercises, and spiritual contemplation, which could be practiced in the form of chanting. Many people use chanting during yoga as a way to connect with deeper parts of themselves.
What is Chanting?
Chanting is a spiritual practice found in almost every culture, though it is most widely found in ancient Indian tradition. It is the musical repetition of powerful sounds used to create vibrations throughout the body, calm the mind, and ultimately deepen the yogi’s (person who practices yoga) practice.
Chanting can be done both in a group setting, through narration known as kirtan, or individually. The repetitive vibrations created from the chanting are also said to awaken the various chakras of the body.
What is a Mantra?
In yoga, people often chant mantras, which are often in Sanskrit and may be translated to other languages. “Man” refers to the conscious and subconscious mind, while the second part of the word “tra,” means system. Yogis commonly use mantras as intentions to help guide them through their yoga practice.
Mantras are greatly beneficial to the practice of yoga because the sounds are used to center the mind, body, and spirit. The chanting of mantras remains an integral part of yoga and meditation in Indian culture and beyond.
Popular yoga mantras to chant. Chanting mantras helps keep yogis in the present moment. They don't have to be complex. In fact, mantras can be as simple as a word or phrase chanted aloud, mentally repeated, or heard.
Understanding some of the most common mantras and what each means can help guide the yogi's experience and create a lasting positive impact on their practice. Some of the most popular yoga chants are of the following mantras:
- Om. Om is a commonly known mantra. It is the mantra of the universe that is known to unite us to all of our surroundings. People usually chant Om in meditation as a way to focus and tune in with the higher self.
- Soham. Soham is a Hindu mantra meaning, "I am He/She/That." It is the awareness of oneself that comes from the act of breathing in and out. By inhaling and mentally repeating "so" and exhaling "ham," the yogi becomes more aware of the correlation between their individual self and supreme self.
- Om Namo Narayana: Om Namo Narayana is the mantra of Lord Vishnu that's chanted to invoke a feeling of internal peace within the person chanting. "Narayanaya'' also represents the inner self, and chanting these words in repetition is intended to bring one closer to Vishnu, the source of creation.
Chanting Om in Yoga. Research shows that sound vibrations can positively impact a person's mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Chanting om is known to help transform the mind and the senses. By repeating the word through chant, the yogi's breath begins to align with the mind and helps them achieve a greater sense of awareness.
Om is also a popular yoga chant because it's universal. Anyone can easily chant the words no matter what language they speak. There are no rules for how to chant om, but understanding how to create the sound can help the person better harmonize and connect to their inner self and the universe.
Benefits of mantras and chanting.
To fully benefit from the yoga experience. Each yogi should find a mantra that resonates with them. Some of the greatest benefits of mantra chanting in yoga include:
- Improved focus
- Calming of the mind and improving the person's overall mindset
- Release of positive feelings, like gratitude
- Bringing a sense of wisdom
A mantra isn't just a sound, but rather it's something a person makes an effort to become. Chanting is an act that engages the entire body. Some people might feel inclined to clap or dance to the vibrations of the chant as a way to deepen their practice, while others may not. Every yogi is encouraged to do whatever is most comfortable for them.
Is there a difference between meditating and chanting?
Chanting can be regarded as a form of meditation. It's considered one of the easiest ways to connect the mind, body, and spirit. Though commonly thought of as a form of religious prayer, chanting in yoga can simply be a spiritual experience to prepare the yogi for deeper meditation. In yoga, both chanting and meditation are powerful practices.
No matter who you are or what you believe, every person has the ability to meditate and find a moment of quiet away from the activities of daily life.
The 3 Forms of Chanting
There are 3 main types of chanting and all 3 are intended to unify the body and mind. These include:
- Kirtana. This is a form of chanting done as a group where the participants give him sacred mantras aloud altogether.
- Chanting. The standard way of reciting a mantra done in an audible range and in sequence.
- Japa. A type of slow and quiet muttering of sounds meant to quiet and focus the mind.
Tips for Connecting Through Chanting
The best way to start connecting through chanting is by finding a quiet space and time to practice. Over time, this space becomes one where the yogi can find peace and serenity. Yogis should do the following to prepare for chanting:
1. Find a comfortable place to practice
2. Relax the shoulders and keep the spine long
3. Keep the eyes closed throughout the chants
4. Focus on the breath
5. Allow the mind to wander
5 Ways You Can Benefit From Chanting
Chanting during yoga has numerous benefits on a person's well-being, some of which include the following:
1. Allows one to be present
2. Slows down one's thoughts
3. Brings a sense of joy and positive feelings
4. Improves the breathing, specifically heart and lung function
5. Helps one connect to themselves and others