So I have decided to take my 300 hr teacher training online with Brett Larkin and I am super excited.
I have already received the manuals and am going through all of the bridge material. I was signed up to go to Thailand this past May (pre Covid) for my 300 hr teacher training and that got cancelled for obvious travel restriction reasons. I debated delaying a year out but something led me to instead go this route. I knew Kira would be hybrid schooling for a while and I could study whilst she studies and maintain my current teaching schedule.
One of the first recorded calls I watched was Brett asking the teachers in training their views and feelings on chanting and I thought this would be a good thing to blog about because for me, it has been a process for me to really come to terms with my thoughts on and at times, sticking points in solidifying what my beliefs are and not allowing myself to be boxed in or caving to the fear of judgement. Sort of like the previous blog post I wrote about getting rid of the lines in your sandbox. When I first came to take yoga classes – the studio that I went to did do some om’ing and chanting. My first exposure to this was that it sounded different and was “odd”. This is my first reaction to anything different after 30 years of doing things maybe from generally one point of view. But what I noticed was that using my voice, releasing the fear of how I sounded or how “cooky” some might think it is, I always had a relaxing or calming effect and I was able to stay more focused for longer afterwards. So to learn the physical pluses to chanting or having a chanting practice just confirmed what I had already felt. That I wasn’t “crazy”. Can listening to music or singing provide the same? For sure! But this was something I could also do and it was empowering to use my voice and feel the vibration within as it was created and as the breath sustained it while I truly let go.
Also, different sounds resonate with different chakras or parts of the body so it makes sense that when we become stuck or stiff in life – the breath and the spine do as well and sound can help clear them out. Different languages make different sounds. I remember thinking German was very clear the throat and almost forceful to me whilst other languages I felt were a bit more poetic or rolled off the tongue. Experiencing different sounds became a way for me to get curious about how they resonated with me…. in a deeper way just like trying different foods or exploring new places for the first time.
So, first there are anatomical reasons to chant or reasons the body benefits and likes it. It creates vasopressin which stimulates the pituitary and release endorphins, triggers relaxation, and slows the breath and elongates the exhale which helps release tension and emotional baggage held within the body sometimes in effort to “be strong” or “push forward”. Who doesn’t need some of that from time to time? Energetically it brings people together, unites the class, helps students find their voice, and creates a space for you on your mat that is maybe different than your outside world – special, sacred. Clear from the matrix.
Now, enter religious beliefs. I once encountered a church that when I asked about teaching yoga at a “Women’s Bazaar” where women from the church were going to be sharing their services and goods – I was questioned on things I said during class. I was shown a passage in the bible that basically said while God is not a jealous God, he doesn’t want us to turn away from him. I felt the judgement specifically to what I was teaching and if I was “cheating” on “my” God. And I prayed about this. The conclusion I came to was that God had given me gifts and Yoga had come into my life and taught me a great deal about the person within. The person without fear who was at peace and great health after practicing yoga, the person who believed in healing, the person who knew when she was full – she could help fill others and when she was empty – she needed to create space and to reconnect to her source. A source that ultimately doesn’t want to divide. A source rooted in love for all beings. Once I was comfortable in my decision, albeit it was hard to be questioned on such a personal topic, I felt better about Om’ing in class.
Another example of this cultural appropriation in my life was living in Switzerland as an American. There were many things I loved about living in Switzerland and habits or things that I picked up whilst living there. Some have stuck with me and who knows if its a forever change or like an accent can get lost. I also learned things from different cultures while there as it was quite a diverse population. And sometimes I would meet people who I couldn’t even pinpoint where they were from as they had attributes of different places, different stops on their journey. At the root of us or of religion is love. Love for thyself, love for they neighbor, love for the environment etc. Are things always harmonious…no! But by chanting I learn to connect with the vocal vibration of a centered self so that when things get hard or challenging, I can communicate in a way to both be heard and to listen. I have only become richer from studying other cultures, practices, food, and travel. The perspective becomes broadened, the stories created, and the exploration of “new” ness never ending because there is always something to be learned, something to be gotten, something to be given, something to be taken away, and maybe some things that don’t fit or don’t fit right now and therefore forgotten for a little. It’s a journey. I firmly believe chanting and sound can help aid in an internal awareness that helps live an outwardly healthier life.