Is Chanting Allowed In Yoga Studios During COVID?
“I want to sing like the birds, not caring who listens or what they think.”- Rumi
I love to chant many types of mantras. Many of my friends ask me why to chant mantras or do chanting at a yoga class? Well, the simple answer is to:
- Create a peaceful atmosphere because chants are divine
- Build confidence in you as mantra boosts energy
- Chanting has the ability to get you completely rooted in your body and mind.
- Connect within your self
My favourite mantras are:
“Om bhur bhuvas svaha
Thath savithur varaynyam
Bhargo dheyvasya dhimahih
“Om Namho Bhagwatey Vasudevaya”
“Sarva Mangala Mangalye Sive Sarvartha Sadhike
Saranye Trayambike Gauri Narayani Namostute”
Be it simple OM Mantra or any type of chanting in yoga studios of mantras in Sanskrit, Gurmukhi, Hindi, or English, its main purpose is to calm the mind and is used in meditation to attain the ultimate bliss and inner peace.
So mainly chanting in yoga studios is speaking out mantras either loudly that can be heard or to speak internally. Therefore chanting in yoga studios is helpful during your yoga and meditation practices. When you keep your mind focused on your breath and chanting in yoga studios during practice, it can help to reduce the stress of mind and makes you more focused.
Chanting in Yoga Studios
Coming to the question is chanting in yoga studios is allowed during COVID, then you can think of the following options:
- If you have a yoga studio that only practices meditation then you need chanting in yoga studios and this can be done by maintaining social distancing where only five or six students can practice it each at 6 feet apart with windows open.
- When you don’t offer meditation classes then you can avoid chanting in yoga studios for the time being.
- For Pranayams only a short and simple chant of OM with few students maintaining distance can be performed with windows open.
- Only you as a teacher can solo chant and students can hear.
- Use an Audiotape of chants for students to focus on mind
- Totally shun chanting for the time being if you feel that it is against the government rules in your country due to coronavirus
According to the Health ministry, NSW Singing in groups (whether by choirs or by congregants) or chanting is a particularly high-risk activity and must not take place at this time, irrespective of whether singers or chanters are wearing masks.
The only COVID-Safe singing that is permitted is a solo singer distanced at least five meters away from other people and not directly above the audience.
To me chanting in yoga studios is not necessary for every yoga class. Remember that the COVID church outbreaks in the US due to singing happened because of choir or group singing together.
Dr. Howard Leibrand, Skagit County’s health officer in Iowa suggested that when individuals sing, they project their voices. Powerful voices project droplets at far greater distances than does casual conversation. Therein lies the risk for religious gatherings. Though chanting and singing publicly is total banned, at yoga studios you can practice with very few students to avoid the risk if any that too if your government allows.
Before thinking of alternatives to chanting in yoga studios, you need to understand the process of chanting. When you say OM as a chant you inhale slowly and deeply through both nostrils. On the exhale, chant the sound of the three-part OM mantra.
So what you do in OM chant is open your mouth wide to start the “Ahh” sound at the back of the mouth. As the sound spreads and resonates through your mouth, throat, and chest, it transitions to a powerful “ooh” sound throughout your entire body.
Finally, you close your lips and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, creating the “mmm” sound, toward the end of your exhalation. Then you have to pause at the very end of your breath and then take a slow, long inhale.
This means it all breathing techniques that can otherwise be performed also without chanting loudly.
There are a lot of ways that you can create a sense of unity in your yoga classroom without chanting in yoga studios or making new students feel uncomfortable. Many Yoga teaches practice in class breathing exercises instead of chant and easy one is to take three breaths together at the start and end of your yoga class.
Instead of chanting in yoga studios, ask your students to sit at distance apart and take three deep inhales and audibly exhales together. With that, you get a sense of connection with everyone in the room, a feeling of calm, as well as presence in the body and mind, also in a way that is safer for everyone.
The other alternative to chanting in yoga studios is “Nadi Shodhana Pranayama“. Here you have to perform alternate nostril breathing or subtle energy clearing breathing technique This type of breathwork can be done as part of a yoga or meditation practice. Alternate nostril breathing can also be done as its own practice to help you quiet and still your mind.
How to do Nadi Shodhana Pranayama?
- You sit in a comfortable position as you sit while doing your chants. Place your left hand on your left knee.
- Lift your right hand up toward your nose. Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers.
- Open the right nostril and exhale through this side. Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.
- Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
This completes one cycle of this exercise. You can continue for up to 5 minutes. Now complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.
Alternate nostril breathing may help you relax or clear your mind like as you feel in chanting.
The main idea to do chanting as said above is to connect within yourself and that purpose is solved in these alternatives as well.
If you are taking a meditation class where chanting in yoga studios is necessary, then the best alternative is to hear chants rather than speaking it out. Because sound heals the body and relaxes the nervous system.
In the Hindu or Sanskrit tradition, sound vibration is known as Nada. In the practice of Nada Yoga, the sound is used not only to restore physical and mental well-being but also as a path to spiritual awakening. Nada Yoga divides sound into external sounds, Ahata, and internal sounds, Anahata.
External sounds are perceived through the ears and Nada Yoga can be as simple as listening to non-vocal music and gently focusing on the individual notes. You can listen to the different notes even the chirp of a bird or wind through trees. The aim is to allow awareness to move inwards.
Internal sounds are perceived through the Anahata (heart) chakra. Each human body has its own unique sound or vibration, which is sacred to that individual. By regulating the breath, with the attention turned inwards, and closing the ears with the fingers, you can begin to listen in on your own inner sound. Re-aligning with this sound serves to balance your energetic body and ultimately re-connect you with your divine presence.
To me the best alternative is to take live streaming of your yoga classes or take online classes where you can do chanting from your home and your students can follow the same from their comfort zone without any risk involved, all legal and safe.
Finally, remember that at present you have to think of yourself and your students’ health and avoid taking any risks. It’s your duty as a yoga teacher or studio owner to think of community in fact humanity as a whole to protect each and everyone and yourself from any such risk factor which can be harmful.
Keep the faith as good times are soon coming when you will be back to your full-fledged businesses. If you are a true yogi then you understand the concept and cycle of nature. Because after the dark night you see a bright day too!