Introduction To Mindful Singing
Yoga has played a key part in my life. It helped me to overcome tragic circumstances, heal from stress and dis-ease and regain confidence. I am very thankful to my yoga teachers for that!
Singing helped me to express both sorrow and joy. Also, when done properly, it’s as effective as yoga. Especially the type of singing that can be called mindful singing. The intention behind that kind of singing is to be present, connected with your breath and body while immersing yourself in the sound of your voice. It’s a kind of meditation indeed.
Also, it’s important to add that the word mind as we use it is mainly related to the functions of the brain, while in the context of yoga mind is extended to the heart as well. From a holistic point of view, mind affects every cell in your body. That’s why yoga can improve your physical wellbeing as well as emotional and mental.
You see. When you sing with long vowels and breathe deeply you start feeling the benefits. When your voice flows out, time disappears and your mind and heart are clear and peaceful. That’s the effects of mindful singing. In my coaching, mindful singing is about the first three processes of singing: 1) natural breathing 2) resonance 3) flow. Find out more about the benefits of singing for health here.
The word mantra is the combination of two words from Sanskrit: manas and tra. The meaning of these two words can be translated as “mind tool” or “mind liberator”. Put very simply, a mantra can be defined as a specific vibration that helps us to focus our mind/heart on a positive intention or quality. When we sing out a mantra it’s called chanting. We can also repeat the same mantra in silence during meditation.
Scientific studies in the field of neuroscience support the benefits of chanting. Find out about the “Sanskrit Effect” here. Also, chanting is just another way to repeat and affirm a quality you wish to manifest in your life. Therefore, it helps to reprogram your subconscious mind. As a result, there are new neuropathways in place. Therefore, your way of experiencing the world and your Self can change for the better.
You don’t need to know Sanskrit to benefit from mantra singing. You don’t even need to pronounce the word in a perfect way. The most important thing is your awareness and your intention. In other words, the energy that is released during the process and the changes it causes in your mind and body are the true gifts that anybody can receive!
Bija Mantras: The Sounds Of The Chakras
The Sanskrit word chakra means a wheel or a disk. In yoga, this term refers to the seven wheels of energy you can find throughout the body. When these energy centres are in balance, your body and mind are in balance too.
There are many different ways to balance chakras. You can do it by practising yoga, through aromatherapy, placing different gemstones on each chakra centre, and through sound and singing.
The Bija mantras are one-syllable seed sounds that, when sung, activate the energy of the chakras in order to purify and balance these energy centres. As a result, you receive benefits for your well-being.
When I use different frequencies (or keynote) to balance each chakra. In my classes, I use a simple diatonic major scale, starting on note C. This is probably the most popular way to harmonise the chakras with help of the seed sounds. However, there are other systems and approaches. Each has its own benefits and all are worthwhile to explore and experience.
Yoga has become a very helpful practice for developing healthy vocal techniques. You can read more about it in this scientific article Vocal Yoga: Applying Yoga Principles in Voice Therapy, published by Adam Lloyd, Bari Hoffman-Ruddy, Erin Silverman, and Jeffrey L. Lehman.