How Chanting Can Improve Your Energy, Mood and Health
Have you ever noticed how good you feel after singing along to your favorite song? Singing acts as a conduit to mindfulness, similar to the state you would obtain through the practice of yoga poses or meditation. It has a sneaky way of making you completely present as you focus on the song you are singing, the catchy melody and the emotions that you feel at the time. This state of mindfulness is key to reducing stress and increasing our energy.
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us: that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. Chanting allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
Stress vanishes into thin air
Prolonged exposure to stress hormones disrupts the body’s metabolism causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar and increased body fat due to increased appetite. Research shows that singing decreases levels of the stress hormone Cortisol, which lowers your heart rate and relaxes us.
Singing causes your body to release another delightful little hormone called Oxytocin, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. It is the release of this hormone in particular that has made singing a key practice in the treatment of depression and as a tool for assisting dementia patients and those struggling with other related afflictions. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding and when combined with reduced blood pressure, reduced stress, and a healthy dose of the feel-good hormone Serotonin and Endorphones, it’s easy to see why singing may just be what the doctor ordered for greater health and vitality.
You can gain relief from long term respiratory difficulties like asthma, bronchitis, etc. from singing.
Many people spend their entire life breathing only from their upper chest and don’t access the full capacity of their lungs, even if they practice deep breathing exercises. This is because they haven’t learned to activate their diaphragm which is a thin flexible muscle that sits below your rib cage. Singing requires you to use this muscle, allowing you to take in much more air as a result and the benefits that you would normally receive from deep breathing are super charged.
What this means for people with asthma and other long term respiratory difficulties is an increase in lung capacity and a freeing of the body’s breathing mechanisms, namely the rib cage and surrounding muscles, resulting in the ability to breathe much more easily.
Even those in medical professions agree with the benefits that diaphragmatic breathing can provide. London’s Royal Brompton Hospital started a ‘breathing through singing’ program for lung patients and found that through regular group singing practice, patients were able to perform more strenuous daily activities as a result.
How to Practice:
Take slow, deep breaths using your diaphragm.
If you aren't sure if you are using your diaphragm notice where you are feeling the in-breath. The diaphragm is located at the center of the torso, dividing it approximately in half in the transverse plane (also called the horizontal plane, axial plane, or transaxial plane). You want to feel the breath here and just below it in the belly.
Start by chanting Om before trying anything more complex. Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions.
Pronounce each sound
The syllable Om is composed of the three sounds A-U-M (in Sanskrit, the vowels a and u combine to become o). Practice making each sound distinctly.
And Enjoy Yourself!