I am a big lover of traditional mantra chanting (aside from the daily mantras I write about). The sacred sanskrit sounds not only have proven health benefits like aiding in memory loss and improving cognitive function (to name a few), they also provide a deep sense of connection to the universe and yourself and can ease things like fear or worry. Moreover, singing these ancient songs while pregnant or to your newborn can be one of the best ways to delve deeper into the connection the two of you share.
Pranayama (breathing techniques) is another great addition to a daily yoga or meditative practice. They can be done randomly throughout the day to re-centre and balance yourself out, especially if you are finding it tough to set aside some time to practice. Pregnancy to parenthood is the most transformational time in a woman's life and pranayama and chanting techniques are an incredible way to attune to that transformation and deepen your connections and growth.
Studies have proven time and again that babies in utero can hear voices and song. Mothers have since been encouraged to sing and talk to their baby in light of this research. With this realization has come a whole line of white noise machines and playlists to help a baby out of utero to feel soothed, at home, peaceful and comfortable enough to sleep. Imagine doubling down on these facts and singing mantras that not only allow your child, in and out of the womb, to be soothed by their mothers voice but get to enjoy the fruits of these ancient sacred sounds to aid in the rapid brain development, bringing them peace and joy.
Here is a clip of Zinnia and I chanting our final round of om's from our morning jammie practice. We tend to start our days with a toddler style meditation practice. By toddler style I mean it moves at a faster pace, she comes in and out of deep focus and it is shorter in length to a typical adult practice. The main purpose for meditation in the early years is to cultivate a routine, model the importance and benefits of meditation around them and to practice.
If you start while your child is in utero, nothing will be more soothing than hearing something from the inside on the outside. An example of this was when I was pregnant with Zinnia and sang You Are My Sunshine to her in my belly every single day. When it wasn't appropriate to be singing the song out loud or if I was busy (i.e. on the subway or at work) I would quietly or loudly hum the tune of the song to send those familiar vibrations and sounds her way. When Zinnia was born I instantly started singing the song and within seconds, Zinnia was silent and starring in the direction of my voice. The nurses and doctors were shocked at how calm and soothed she was almost instantly after being introduced to the world. She of course cried, as newborns do, but if I started to sing or hum You Are My Sunshine, she stopped to listen every single time. This song comforted and soothed her and still to this day does.
It was then that I realized I should have tried using my mantra chanting a little more regularly. Since I know these specific syllable sounds have so many proven benefits, why not make that my lullaby of choice. Before a child can talk, they can chant. Before a child can chant, they can listen and listening is all it takes to reap the multitude of benefits from a good mantra chant. I started to connect the dots, and after creating and running a mindfulness and meditative workshop with mindful families, I realized that pre and post natal pranayama and chanting is something that needs to be offered!
As of January 2017 C.A.M.P.S. will be offering a woman's circle for just that! We will connect, chant, meditate and support each other. We will sing these good vibrations to our littles and soothe and connect in ways we may not have otherwise thought possible. If you or someone you know in the GTA has a personal interest in mantras, pranayama and meditation or their own meditative practice and would enjoy a group like this, please spread the word! I am looking forward to creating a sacred space for mothers and their unborn or freshly born littles to start meditation from the very beginning, paving way for a life of connection, strength and happiness.
If you have never experienced a newborn's reaction to a good chant, it is a must see! Newborns will stop and stare for long stretches of time at these soothing sounds, it's simply amazing.
As I design a pre and post utero program of meditation, chanting and pranayama I thought it would be a start to provide C.A.M.P.S. readers with an amazing resource from Spirit Voyage. Spirit Voyage is an amazing website with an extensive archive of pranayama, mantras, yoga and all their benefits. The links are below.
If you have ever meditated in a room full of women, you know how transcendent the feeling can be. Especially with a nice long chant. You feel the vibrations and sounds deep in your core as well as whirling around the room from ear to ear. If you are yet to try it, you must come out to a class and join us! I am so excited to motivate and inspire these deep connections between mothers and their babies.
Another clip of our morning jammie practice, using the singing bowl before our guided rock meditation.