Chanting is more than a warm-up before yoga asana (exercise/yoga postures). To understand the importance of chanting you must first know a little about the amazing properties of water. Water is the most the unique known element in our universe. The human body is about 60% water. The effects that sound/vibrations have on water almost beggar belief.
Scientists have experimented with water by paying music to water and then flash freezing it and examining the patters formed by the water when it turns to ice. The results are remarkable. When, for example, classical music is played, the results look like beautiful snowflakes and crystals that can be seen in the ice. By comparison, when death metal music is played the results in the ice look like something you would imagine too see in Dante's circles of Hell! The same applies when tears of joy and tears or sadness are captured, flash frozen and analysed.
Scientists have even used radio waves / vibrations to split water apart into oxygen and hydrogen and then use it as fuel; setting fire to sea water!
There is still much to learn about this unique element which is the key to life on earth. One thing that seems clear, however, is that sounds / waves / vibrations clearly have a massive impact on water (and, by extension, the human body).
When chanting, you combine sound/ vibrations with breath and melodious rhythm which channels the flow of energy along the nadi (the channels through which prana flows) that run throughout the mind/body circuit. This triggers the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s ‘rest and digest’ response) and induces Alpha rhythm balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain, leaving you feeling energised and relaxed.
Chanting can also deliver us from our sense of dependency on external / material things. Given the conditions of modern life, we all too often define ourselves by the material things we buy and we all too often rely upon external energies like eating at certain times. These choices and habits are, ultimately, rooted in our subconscious. Chanting is a way to re-programme your unconscious bad habits with good ones.
Chanting has even been said to provide a connection to God by your spiritual energy being awakened.
Yogic science tells us that chanting stimulates the shushumna nadi which runs along the spinal cord and which is the main nadi through which para flows.
This first verse is a peace prayer as it ends with the line: “Aum Shanthihi shanthihi shanthihi” and is as follows-
Aum asatho ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya
Aum Shanthihi shanthihi shanthihi
Lead me from untruth to truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.
The second verse shows gratitude towards the Teacher:
Yogena Chittasya Padena Vacha
Malam Sharirasya Cha Vaidya Kena
Yopakarotham Pravaram Muninam
Patanjali Pranjali Ranatosmi
and this means:
I salute the great Master Patanjali. He taught Yoga to heal the mind. He taught Ayurveda to heal the body. He taught the Mantras for healing on all levels. I salute him again and again - may I attain freedom.