Sanskrit & Naming

  • Nada refers to the internal sacred sound, said to arise from the heart.
  • Nada Yoga may be called the Yoga of Sound, Yoga of the Inner Sound or Yoga of Sacred Sound, and it refers to listening to the inner sound.
  • Mantra Yoga is the repetition of sacred sounds. Repeating a mantrais known as chanting. The practice of chanting mantras may be considered its own branch of yoga (along with Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, etc) or as a practice within other branches.
  • Kirtan is call-and-response devotional chanting.
  • The English term “Yoga of Sound” encompasses all forms of “sonic mysticism” including nada and mantra.
  • Expert Gary Kraftsow uses the accessible term, “vocal sound techniques” to include humming and chanting (both simple syllables and mantras).

Sacred Sound

Nada: The Inner Sound

  • Nada, or the internal sound, refers to a sacred inner sound that can only be heard if the mind is quiet enough that a focus on internal listening results in the awareness of an inner presence.
  • In Nada Yoga, the practitioner focuses on the inner sound during meditation practice.
  • Alanna Kaivalya notes that in order to develop the ability to connect with our internal, sacred sound, “we start by refining and tuning up our outer listening… The yogi enhances this dynamic interaction with sound through mantra.”

Other Sacred Sounds

  • In addition to the inner sound, yoga explores other manifestations of sacred sound as well, with mantras (both chanted aloud and silently) and kirtan.
  • A mantra is a sound vibration “through which we mindfully focus our thoughts, our feelings, and our highest intentions” that can create physical or spiritual transformation. Mantra may be voiced aloud or silently.
  • While some sources may propose that any repeated phrase can be called a mantra, most experts distinguish mantras as phrases with known vibrational power. These mantras may come from any tradition, including Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and other faiths and cultures.
  • Indigenous cultures demonstrate that sacred chanting is universal among cultures.
  • While sounds from Sanskrit are not the only ones deemed sacred, this language itself is known as a sacred vibratory language.

In the Beginning was the Word
In the Gospel of John it says, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God…” In Genesis we find, “And God said, let there be light.” Notice that the phrase does not say something like, “And God made light to shine.” No, God produced light by saying something, by using the power of sound… The clear conclusion is that light was not the original or highest. It was sound. From sound came light, according to Genesis. – Thomas Ashley-Farrand

What’s It Like to Discover the Inner Sound?
Remain as still as possible, listening internally with sustained attention. If you can be inwardly quiet enough and deeply absorbed in the search, you will, if you are truly persistent, suddenly become aware of an unusual, feeble sound that can be heard deep inside the ears and head, concealed from you before and obscured by the din of your incessant mental restlessness. When you become aware of the mysterious presence in you of this sound, you may at first be struck with surprise and awe, but no matter how weak or distant it may appear, it will be very obvious that this is no ordinary sound but a mystical one of a higher cosmic order. It could be called the primordial sound… The first time the seeker hears this mystical sound when meditating, it may be very faint indeed… And… it may keep disappearing and reappearing every so often… Do not be disheartened at this but persistently look for it, again and again. – Edward Salim Michael