More and more research is focusing on examining the many complex mechanisms that music contains and the beneficial impact that different sounds have on our brain, and in turn our state of mind. This is a positive indication of openness and desired innovations are beginning to see the light of day. “Healing” music is already being employed in many hospitals, and this kind of therapy aims directly at lowering heart rate and creating calming brain waves.
The magic of sounds is that they consist of waves that can be more or less harmonized. If sounds oscillate uniformly, they create vibrations and develop a “resonance” in various parts of the body. Sound is waves of energy and this energy is like a stimulating and vitalizing micro-massage to your cells. When all the cells in your body vibrate in their optimal frequency, they work most effectively.
In yoga, great significance is ascribed to being able to stimulate the calming part of the nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system) by means of sounds, since it is an effective way to create a link between body, mind, emotions, intellect and the energy flow of prana. It vitalizes, transforms and heals each and every cell in our body simultaneously. One may argue that all stimuli received by the nervous system and the visceral organs occur as a result of vibrations. Everything vibrates, even a seemingly solid computer screen or mobile phone is one big atomic dance party!
The goal of yoga is to expand your consciousness to such an extent that it fuses and becomes one with the Universe – the state called samadhi or nirvana. It happens exactly when the vibrations and energy of your cells synchronize with the rhythm of nature, which is controlled by prana – the universal energy of life.
Try a sound
An easy method exists, which is effortless to practice and entirely without risk - simply using the waves of sound produced by your own vocal chords. Different sounds depending on where and what they are to affect can be used. Close your eyes for a moment and say the sacred mantra Om (or Aum) out loud and clear three times – and hold the tone as long as possible. Om is pronounced “AAUUMMMMM” and it creates vitalizing vibrations throughout your body – especially in your lungs, heart, neck, jaw, tongue and brain. You may also generate a long and soft Amen which produces similar oscillations and has an immediate soothing effect.
Stimulating your body with vibrations
Another example of useful sounds that are particularly beneficial to the body is a clean ”A” or “O” sound which will make the chest, sternum and neck vibrate. Vibrations in the sternum will stimulate the immune system because the oscillations boost the thymus, a small gland in the chest which controls the production of the body’s key defence cells called T lymphocytes. The thymus becomes smaller and smaller with age and almost disappears in the end. Some researchers even believe that different infections and cancers in old people are closely linked to the decline in T lymphocyte production. Hence, if you were to stimulate the thymus in some way e.g. through prayer or song, it is sure to be advantageous. Elderly people as well as ill people following a treatment need a strong immune system.
Vibrations in the throat will stimulate another important gland, the thyroid. This gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism and thus the body’s energy consumption and body weight. In addition, it also assists in strengthening heart function. Apart from the fact that you can stimulate this gland to some extent with vibrations, a combination of generating sounds and using the yoga shoulder stand, can create additional stimulation. This is partly due to an increased blood flow to the neck and head, and secondly, because the natural Throat Lock that this posture creates increases the pressure in the thyroid, giving it a gentle massage.
Located on the thyroid gland are some small glands (parathyroid) that produce a hormone (PTH) which can increase the amount of calcium in the blood. Vibrations can to some extent stimulate these glands, but with a combination of sounds and a simple yoga pose such as the shoulder stand, stimulation can be increased further, because blood flow is increased and because the throat lock increases the pressure in the thyroid.
Another outcome of vibrations in the throat and the resulting vagus nerve stimulation is the immediate reduction in blood pressure and number of heartbeats. People with heart conditions or patients who have suffered a heart attack can combine breathing exercises with sound generation as a simple preventive or therapeutic method.
Another interesting significance of breathing while using your voice is simply that the breathing frequency is lowered and the natural breath becomes longer (tidal volume (Vt) expands). The same happens when you hum or sing, which as you know, causes a feeling of happiness and well-being.
A remedy against inflammations in the lungs
Making humming sounds while breathing through the nose has the beneficial effect of mixing air from the nose with air from the sinuses which is rich on nitrogen oxide (NO). NO has the ability to increase the blood's oxygen uptake significantly. In addition, NO has an anti-bacterial and thus anti-inflammatory function, which makes this exercise an obvious supplementary remedy in the treatment of diseases caused by inflammation in lung tissue.
The unique properties associated with the small gas molecule nitric oxide can be utilized by properly performed breathing exercises. These may well prove to be tomorrow's best bet for a healthy and effective therapy of a widespread disease which the Western world still cannot cure, namely asthma.