The Effects Of Sound

  • “Sound healing” and “vibrational therapy” are terms for using sound vibration in a conscious way.
  • Producing sound causes the vocal cords to vibrate, creating a desirable healing and calming effect in the body and mind.
  • Vocalizing slows the breath rate and deepens the exhalation.
  • It focuses attention and tends to balance the emotions.

How Does the Yoga of Sound Work?

Using vocal sound techniques in combination with postures effectively intensifies practice, focuses attention, deepens exhalation, increases circulation to the organs, and balances the emotions… Vocal sound techniques include humming, chanting simple syllables, chanting simple phrases that have certain meanings, and chanting more complete songs or prayers… The main factors that determine the effects of the sounds that are used are their particular vowels and consonants, their pitch, and their volume. – Gary Kraftsow

For Newer Students

If you are introducing sounding to a new audience, you may wish to gently support students in noticing and releasing conditioned fears around using their voice in ways that are new to them. Like asana and pranayama, chanting must be practiced to realize its benefits. But if before or after introducing it, you’d like to share some keys to *why* it has such effect, you can consider the following expert explanation describing five specific benefits:

  1. Association of memory
  2. Entrainment of vibration
  3. Slowing of breath rate
  4. Sonic effects of vowel sounds
  5. Intent to be closer to the Divine

Five Reasons for the Powerful Effect of Chanting

Gass points to five key elements of chanting that make it such a powerful and universally appealing practice. The first two, he says, are characteristic of all types of music: association (or triggering), in which one’s experiential memories, built up over time, invest a piece of music with ever-deeper levels of meaning; and entrainment, in which the body-mind is induced to align (or vibrate) with a melody or rhythm to which it is exposed. “If you’re in a room and there’s a heavy drum beat,” says Gass, “your body will almost involuntarily start to move.” The other three elements, according to Gass, are especially characteristic of chant: breath (the effect on the chanter’s respiration as it slows from the normal 12 to 15 breaths per minute to between five and eight breaths per minute); sonic effects, namely the pleasurable sensations and healing effects of extended vowel sounds typical of sacred chants; and intent, which reflects “our desire to be close to God.” Gass adds that chant derives its power from the synergy of all five elements working together. “It’s sort of like a secret weapon,” he says. “You’re not thinking about it; it just happens.” – Phil Catalfo