My journey into chanting and mantra
The transition from Sivananda Yoga to Kundalini Yoga was not seamless.
I don’t sing in the shower (sometimes during ishnaan but that’s more of a wail as the chilly water hits me) and my baby boy used to shush me when singing nursery rhymes.
At my Sivananda training we were introduced to mantra and I certainly enjoyed it but its not a part of a regular Sivananda class other than the traditional Om at the end of class. Cue my first Kundalini class.
Tune in with the Adi Mantra, closely followed by the Mangala Charan and then only begin class. Usually during class there will be some kind of chanting followed by a meditation, more often than not involving chanting. For someone who doesn’t sing in the shower this was quite a leap. In the beginning I kind of mouthed the words so I’d look like I was participating. I spent the entire time self-consciously looking around and wondering if maybe a note had slipped out into the room and I’d been caught out!
I harboured the idea of Kundalini teacher training but the thought of leading a class in chanting was too abhorrent to even consider and so I shelved the idea. The trouble with Kundalini music in general though, is that it is beautiful. I remember clearly the first time I heard Snatam’s Ra Ma Da Sa it brought tears to my eyes. How is it possible to not sing along to that? I tried mouthing it at first but alas it was impossible, the deep healing and power of that mantra forced itself out and for the first time I really didn’t care if anyone could hear my voice.
Not long after that my teacher led the class in this mantra
Ad guray nameh, Jugaad guray nameh, Sat guray nameh, Siri guru dayvay nameh
The version she used was by Seda Bagcan. This women sings higher than the angels, but it is so beautiful and the mantra so powerful that once again I found myself unable to feel self-conscious. The mantra, the chanting, the music carried me.
Suddenly I knew that mantra and chanting had nothing to do with how much lacked in my singing voice and everything to do with how I felt inside. I realised that I could not hear anyone else when I was chanting, I could not tell you how the person next to me sounded because the chanting had transported me to that special place within me. The quiet place, where I am able to connect with myself.
It was during teacher training that I learnt the science of mantra and chanting. I learnt about the 84 meridians on the roof of the mouth that are stimulated when we chant and I learnt about how chanting stimulates the hypothalamus and the limbic system and the glandular system and the nervous system and the immune system and the even the senses.
All that really mattered however was how it made me feel. Deep within. Knowing that I had reached a place within myself that I had never been before.
So now I lead the class in chanting. I chant loudly and powerfully, not because I sound good in the shower but because I feel good inside. Try it. Start by heading to youtube and exploring Snatam. You won’t look back.
Have a glorious day Yogis and Yoginis
Sat Nam xxx
p.s. My son now demands a lullaby at bedtime each night (kundalini of course) and since I have made peace with my lack of singing skills it seems that so has he!