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The Seeds of Sound Part 2: Aural Yoga - India

Only Me - Yoga Girl by Janae Jean, taken at 3DL Gathering in Bloomington, MI, July 2017

This is the second post in a series discussing the "Seed Sounds" from around the world. A seed sound is also called a "Bija Mantra" in the Vedic tradtion. The word "mantra" itself comes from Sanskrit word "manas" meaning to think or mind. "Tra" means action, tool or instrument. So a mantra is a tool or instrument of the mind. Bija literally translates to seed. These "seed sounds" are planted in the mantra and like asanas or physical postures, like that of the woman above, are meant to bring us into a deeper sense of awareness of the moment.

Bija (बीज) Mantra - Literally a "seed" mantra; it's a transcendental and transformational sound. There are 50 such sounds that make up the Kundalini shakti (power) energy.

Mandala Image by Angela Yuriko Smith CO License

In previous posts, such as Finding The Song of Your Soul and Part 1 - Tibet, we discussed the chakras and vowels that some modern experts and traditions believe heal them. The chakra "wheel" system has its roots in Ancient India. It comes from the Tantric tradition 600-1300 CE. Most Westerner are familiar with seven chakras, but some sources state there are as few as five and others state as many as 28 or more. This is such a vast subject on its own, such a fascinating rabbit hole of superstition, woo-woo, science, religion, philosophy, woo-woo and magical alchemy, I can see myself doing another series of posts about the various systems themselves. More than that, various systems assign various seed sounds to the chakras. For the purposes, of this article on bijas, I'm sticking with the most common seven and some of the more common seed sounds. Considering how ancient, they bijas are, I am curious as to whether they are remnants of the Proto-Indo-European root language from which world languages from Hindi to English to German to Farsi descended. This could make an interesting topic for a future post in this series.

Before I take you through the most common bijas for the seven chakras, let's do a listening exercise. Nada Yoga is "the yoga of listening." This practice dates back to the "RigVeda," a Sanskrit hymnal from about 1500 – 1200 BCE.

The Song of Your Body Exercise

1. If you have ear plugs, insert them into both ears. If you have an eye mask or blindfold, wear it. If you don't have these things, simply close your eyes and close your ears with your fingers.

2. Breathe in and out in a slow, controlled manner. Listen to the to the sound of this breath as you breathe. What does it sound like to you? A rushing stream? The wind through the trees? The gentle hum of cars passing in the distance?

3. Next focus on the sound of your heart. Do you hear it? From where the sound seem to be coming? Do you feel it? Where do you feel it? What other ways do you sense it?

4. Listen to any other sounds you hear your body producing. Crackling? Grinding? Clicking?

5. Do you hear any ringing, buzzing, or humming in your ears? How loud is it? How soft is it? Does it increase in volume or decrease in volume? Listen to your internal crescendos and decrescendos. Does the timbre change? Does it stay the same? Does it seem to be making any seed sounds on its own?

6.Listen, feel, and observe the way your body vibrates, the sound waves it makes; it's unqiue frequency. Place your hands on different places on your body, and see if the sensation changes. (If you hands covering your eyes of ears, remove them, but remain with eyes closed.) Start by placing your hands on your lower back by your tailbone, your root chakra. Then move them to your lower abdomen, your sacral chakra. After this, go to just above your belly button, to your solar plexus. When you move your hands to your heart space, go ahead and place your left hand above your right. Lightly press your hands on your throat chakra. Place to fingers on your third eye. Lastly, set your hands on top your head and observe the vibrations of your crown chakra. Be a captive audience for your internal symphony, while it resonates.

Chakra Mantra Seed Sounds*

Lam (Lahm) or Lang (Lahng) – The Root Chakra – Earth Element - Red

Vam or Vang – The Sacral Chakra – Water Element - Orange

Ram or Rang – The Naval or Solar Plexus Chakra – Fire Element -Yellow

Yam or Yang – The Heart Chakra – Air Element - Green

Ham or Hang – The Throat Chakra – Ether Element – Light Blue

Sham or Om (Aum) – The Third Eye Chakra – Light Element - Indigo

Om, Hangsah, or Para (beyond sound) – Thought or Cosmic Energy – Violet or White

*All A’s are pronounced as “ah” as in a British pronunciation of “father” for this exercise.

Now return to The Song of Your Body Exercise. Repeat this while chanting these bijas. Feel each bija, at each point in the point and experience how they resonate in different ways. Perform this activity several times in different ways. I would recommend trying this with both of the suggested pronunciations and see if one set feels more natural to you. You may then repeat this again while visualizing the suggested colors or imaging the various associated elements. This is just the beginning of the seed sounds that originate in India. We will explore more Indian mantra and bijas in future installments.

Peace, love, and magic! –JJ

​​​Recommended Books:

Bryant, Edwin F. Bhakti Yoga: Tales and Teachings from the Bhagavata Purana. New York: North Point Press, 2017.

Hersey, Baird. The Practice of Nada Yoga. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2014.

Relevant Links:

A-Reconnecting,, Accessed 01/25/18.

Etymonline Mantra, Accessed 12/20/17.

Wallis, Christopher. "Core Spirit."

White David Gordon. "Yoga, Brief History of an Idea."

Photo Credits:

Only Me - Yoga Girl by Janae Jean, taken at 3DL Gathering in Bloomington, MI, July 2017

Mandala Image by Angela Yuriko Smith, CC License on Pixabay

Deep Breathing Photo by Cristian Newman, CC License on Unsplash



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