There are many different types of yoga to practice, but one of those types has been vitally important to my physical and emotional health; Bhakti yoga, or yoga chanting. It is something that anyone can do, and it’s so easy to incorporate into your life. Most of the time, I chant while I’m in the car.
Thousands of years ago, the rishis, or seers, of India gave us the systems of yoga to bring us to a state of harmony, peace, and ultimately, union with the God. These ancient yogis were well aware of the multiple layers—physical, mental, emotional—that make up the human body, and they created practices to bring light to the whole being. They recognized emotions as vital and sacred and saw them, not as an obstacle, but as a great energy that could bring us to liberation. And they gave us bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion, to channel that energy and use it as a bridge to carry us back to our source.
Kirtan, the practice of chanting the names or mantras of the gods and goddesses, is perhaps the most important technique in bhakti yoga. Although the practice itself is simple, the internal process that it stimulates is vast and mysterious. Externally, we’re just singing repetitive songs with simple melodies and a few Sanskrit words. It’s quite easy to learn, but care must be taken to pronounce the words correctly for the vibration to take hold.
Chanting certain mantras puts pressure on tongue, vocal chords, lips, palate and other connecting points in the body. The vibration from the mantra stimulates a gland called hypothalamus. It is responsible for the regulation of many body functions including immunity and some happy hormones. The happier you are the stronger your immunity. Some other benefits of chanting are….
Then the magic happens: Walls constructed long ago come crumbling down. Wounds that we never knew were there begin to heal. Long-submerged emotions come to the surface. As we sing, we immerse ourselves in an endless river of prayer that has been flowing since the birth of the first human beings. And somehow, effortlessly, we move into a meditative state that creates a safe haven for the flower of the heart to unfold.
I’ve witnessed it time and time again. And best of all, it’s a simple practice that I can do while I’m in the car. It’s even better when I take a long car trip, and can chant for hours at a time. It’s stimulating (keeps me alert) and relaxing at the same time. All you need to get started is a good song; one that you like the sound of. Turn it on, sing it, chant it. Feel the way your tongue strikes your palate to make sound, the way your teeth come together, and the way your mouth moves.
Take the Sanskrit word “shree”. The word means abundance, prosperity, wealth, but also pronounce it, and see how your mouth form. A smile comes to your face as you pronounce it. When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins come into play too. … There’s been some evidence that forcing a smile can still bring you a boost in your mood and happiness level.
So, the point is, it’s great for you! Go ahead give it a try! See if you don’t notice a change in your physical body or your mental health.
see you on the mat,