Updated: Oct 6, 2022
Simply put, nada yoga is the yoga of sound. In practicality, it covers a large amount of ground as an area of study in yoga, which deals with primarily vibrations and sound. In concept, it covers an even larger area of study. This article will introduce you to the different components of Nada Yoga, such as Ahat Naad and Anahat Naad, which we will study in detail as time goes on.
Nada Yoga divides sound into two categories - the struck sound and the unstruck sound. The struck sound (ahat naad) is made by any two objects striking together. The unstruck sound (anahat naad) is the sound of emptiness and vibration. Yoga and Ayurveda has believed for thousands of years that the universe is made up of vibrations. Quantum Field Theory believes the same thing. Every particle of matter in the universe vibrates at certain frequencies. Solid matter has low frequencies of vibration and light, sound etc. have high frequencies.
When two frequencies combine, they resonate with each other and both change. This provides points of harmony. The entire universe is made up of layers and layers of vibrations, and at the bottom of it all is the unstruck sound or the primal vibration. The first sound, before matter existed to make struck sound. Yogis say that when you meditate with focus, you can hear the unstruck sound. It takes years of practice, the yogi has to strip away layers of consciousness till he/she hears nothing at all but the blood rush in the body during meditation. Then even that must fade away into true silence. After THAT silence has become normal, you can start picking up a hum, a vibration underneath everything. The unstruck sound. The sound of emptiness. A true aligning of the individual and space.
It can be said that the main focus of Nada yoga is for yogis to hear the anahat naad at the heart chakra. Yogic belief says that the nadis carry flows of energy throughout the body. To hear the anahat naad , you must practice 4 steps of meditation.
Pratyahara - shutting out of external sensations
Dharna - learning single minded focus
Dhyana - sustaining above-mentioned focus for lengths of time
Pranayama - clearing nadis for energy flow
The struck sound can be heard all through the physical world. Every noise you hear, every sound, every vibration, they are all struck sounds. The physical properties of frequencies also apply here. Objects and states of matter can be affected at certain frequencies. Humans are definitely affected by frequencies on a physical level. See here how the 528 Hz frequency can help humans reduce stress.
Hearing the anahat naad is a most likely something that will take years to master. It is much easier to start a nada yoga practice with ahat naad(s). Sounds in your physical environment can be beneficial to humans as well. The above mentioned 528 frequency aside, there are many more that can help. Even without a specific frequency, the brain also triggers the release of calming hormones based on music that you just happen to like.
Perform all the 4 steps listed above for Anahat Naad. They prepare your body to listen. The only difference is you would pick a frequency and use that sound to meditate rather than search for the unstruck sound. We will write another post about which frequency to choose and further music as it applies to yoga. Hit the Free Subscribe button on the bottom if that sounds interesting. For now we compiled a short infographic to provide some quick info.
Another way to implement Nada Yoga in your practice is to practice chanting mantras. Its a huge topic in itself, and while we will deliver into it further in later days, for now you can check out this scientific analysis of mantra based meditation. It will tell you about how chanting mantras has been recorded to affect brainwaves and how certain syllables when stretched will aid the body in producing nitric oxide.
AUM - The Universe in a Word
The most basic mantra to start with is AUM Mantra. It's also known as "Om" in common culture. This goes back to harmonics. When properly pronounced and intonated, the frequency of the "A" sound mingles with the frequency of the "U" sound, making a midpoint of an "O" sound, which is a mix of both vibrations. Sanskrit allows you to mix the two sounds because saying "O" has the same effect as saying "AU".
You can try this yourself. Take a deep breath and stretch out each letter. With your hands you can feel the associated vibrations travel with each respective letter change. "A" starts at the chest, "U" can be felt in the throat and "M" vibrates the top of your skull. You will notice that the "O" sound vibrates both the throat and the chest.
The "A" sound is the same as the long "A" sound in "after" , not the short "A" sound in "able".
The "U" sound is pronounced as "OO" like saying "cool".
The "M" sound is exhaled through the nose with lips closed.
Interestingly, the vibrational frequency of the AUM mantra is 432 Hz. That is also the frequency of the cosmic radiation that has been around since the Big Bang, and to this day can be heard in the universe.