Uplifting chanting sessions: your questions answered!the

For a few years now, I’ve regularly included kundalini  chants at the end of some of my gong baths.  These gentle and meditative chants are fantastic for grounding us at the end of the session, and also are extremely uplifting and restorative in their own right. They perfectly complement the preceding gong bath.

Lots of people tell me they really enjoy the kundalini chants.  So building on this, and drawing on my experience over the years in breath-work, singing and, more recently, over-tone chanting, I’ve started running Monday evening chanting sessions at the beautiful Narthex, Balham High Road.

During the sessions we learn and practice simple techniques that you can take away and do at home.  I’ve designed the sessions to be practical, non-dogmatic, gentle and encouraging.

They are suitable for everyone, including those with no experience of chanting at all, and particularly anyone who finds the idea of chanting/singing excruciating or terrifying (as I did before I started).   

Since the New Year, in response to people’s feedback, I’ve started running the sessions fortnightly.  And I’ve also reduced the cost of attending to £10 (concessions are available, see below).  So perhaps now is the perfect time to come along and give it a go!

In case you’re unsure about whether to come or not, here’s a bit of a Q&A to help out:

Why should I give it a go?

If you already attend my gong baths, these sessions are a perfect complement.  And they are powerfully therapeutic in their own right - the combination of the specific breathing technique I teach, the vibrations we create in our bodies and in the air around us, plus the trance-inducing overtoning, all help us drop into a deep state of relaxation, activate our parasympathetic nervous system (which helps calm us and relieve anxiety and stress), and release tensions and blockages, whether they’re physical or mental.

We learn simple, straightforward techniques that we can use at home or even, in the case of the breathing and deep listening techniques, on the bus or any public space, any time we perhaps feel a bit anxious, stressed or overwhelmed.

What is kundalini chant exactly?

Kundalini yoga is a form of yoga which focuses on the flow of energy particularly in the spine.  Key to kundalini yoga is the use of mantra, or chant.  The aim is to elevate or modify one’s consciousness through the meaning of the mantra, the sound itself (it’s rhythm and tone), and even the reflexology of the tongue on the palate.  The chants are typically short, repeated phrases either in Sanskrit or Gurmukhi (a sacred Indian language), although they are occasionally in English.  They are often sung, though some can be spoken, and sometimes they can be done in a whisper or even silently (internally).  Hand positions or movements, known as mudras, are performed while doing the chants.  Nearly always chants are done with eyes closed, in order to focus better on the inner experience.    

And what is overtonng?

Overtones are always present whenever we open our mouths and vocalise - whether we sing, speak or chant.  Overtones are how we distinguish different vowel sounds, and how we recognise people’s voices.  We tend to not notice them, but they are always there: they are high-pitched, whistle-y or flute-y sounds, that swoop up and down.  With overtone chanting we learn how to make these already-present overtones much more audible and noticeable.  When we overtone as a group, the whole space can become full of overtones, and it’s impossible to work out which overtones are whose: it becomes a communal group effort!  Overtones relate to the base tone (the note we actually chant) in a geometric progression.  If you’re musical (and it absolutely doesn’t matter a jot if you’re not, this is just for interest) the overtones relate to the base frequency as follows: 2 x base frequency ie one octave higher, 3 x base frequency ie 1 octave + 5th higher, 4 x base frequency ie 2 octaves higher, 5 x base frequency = 2 octaves plus a 3rd(ish) higher, and so on.  The important thing here is that this is a geometrical ie a mathematically perfect sequence.   It is the music of the laws of physics and not an arbitrary human construct (like the western diatonic scale is).  Because of this, the overtones sound incredibly beautiful and out-of-this-world, and can trigger deep feelings of awe, wonder and blissful connection with the universe.  

I love coming to your gong baths, but coming to a chanting class feels a bit outside my comfort zone to be honest…

I particularly encourage people who are sceptical or doubtful or - like me when I started - absolutely not into the idea of chanting at all!  Because I know from my own experience, and that of pretty much everyone who has come along, that chanting is really enjoyable and wonderfully uplifting and therapeutic.  However anxious and stressed and dissociated you might feel at the beginning of the session, you will feel better at the end. Several of my regulars, including myself, started out as either highly sceptical about the value of chanting or very nervous of doing it, or both.  I really recommend feeling the fear and doing it anyway!    

I’ve never done any chanting before, does that matter?

Not at all.  The sessions are carefully designed to be accessible to all, including complete beginners and those who are perhaps nervous or unsure.  And t’s perfectly OK if you’ve never attended a gong bath either!   If you have any questions or concerns, just contact me in advance.

What are the practical details?

The sessions are fortnightly on Monday evenings 8-915pm.  The venue is the beautiful Narthex, Balham High Road, SW12 9BS. 

Please arrive promptly just before 8pm to sign and settle in.  The session starts at 8.05pm on the dot.

Please bring water to drink, and a cushion or mat to sit on.  Possibly an extra layer to wear, or a shawl.

There is some seating available for those who prefer to sit on a chair rather than the floor.

The cost is £10, cash on the door.  Concessions available - please contact me in advance. 

And just to re-state…. these sessions are Open To All.  No previous experience necessary. 

How do I book a space?

Unlike my gong baths, the chanting sessions are drop-in, booking in advance is not necessary.  Though it is advisable to let me know in advance if you’re planning to come, just in case of any problems.

See you soon!  Cathy x