Thursday, July 08, 2010


A word on chanting:
Chanting is between speaking and singing. The text is chanted with one voice that remains even.
Many yogis/yoginis make a song out of the opening prayer. The voice goes up from time to time and down at other times. Each yogini/yogi creates his/her own song. This gives me the impression, when I listen to a group of "chanting" yogis/yoginis that I am amongst individuals, that love free style.

But chanting is not singing.

Last time I listened to Sharath very carefully. Of course he is chanting. The voice remains the same during the entire opening prayer, only the words change.

To chant can be a concentration exercise. Yoga is controlling, it is also controlling the voice during the opening prayer even though the voice might like to sing perhaps even an aria.

My preference:
A very experienced yogi once said "the entire practice is a prayer, why chanting?"
Instead of chanting in the beginning of my Ashtanga practice, I prefer standing in samasthithi for a while, palms touching each other in front of my chest, while I listen to my even breath, that I want to maintain during my practice. I prefer to think on the focus of my practice.
But sometimes I chant.

Not to chant is free style as well.


bindifry said...

i was told the first half of the opening chant is done in one breath-up to "abahu puru shakaram..."-second half in one breath.
if you listen to guruji do it, it's pretty monotone & quick. takes a while for the breath to become that long, it's interesting to do it that way.

Ursula said...

Ah, this is interesting.

I fear today before the led class we chant too slowly, I will need more breaths, but next time when I practice alone, I'll try it.

It's true chanting is monotone....

gsabino said...

Actually, when their is a change in pitch or intonation it is precisly noted in the texts. I beleive the opening prayer is "monotone".

Ursula said...

Thank you for the info.

I am always amazed how much knowledge we have all together.

bindifry said...

good point, gsabino. the closing chant is not monotone. i have heard a couple of different pronuciations for bhavantu-pronounced "bha-vahnt-tah-hu" as well as "bha-vhan-tu" & was never told to do in one breath, just as i was told not to do pranayama after the practice. i wonder if there is a connection there.

agree ursula. it's cool when we can share knowledge