March 17, 2011
It’s been well documented that lifestyle changes such as stress reduction or eating a healthy diet can increase your outlook for a healthy heart. But did you ever think that the simple bhakti chanting you do at the beginning or end of your yoga practice might help your heart health?
Apart from their literal meanings, mantras are believed to contain a vibrational power that can lift people to higher spiritual states. According to Hindu belief, consciousness congeals into matter progressively, moving from sound to the sacred syllable Om to ordinary language, and from there to the entire manifest universe. Therefore, reciting mantras can carry people back to the very source of Being.
But spiritual uplift isn’t the only outcome. Scientists have recently discovered that mantra and rosary recitation have possible physiological benefits for the heart. Reciting either Sanskrit mantras or the Ave Maria prayer regulated the breath and synchronized the heart rhythms of 23 participants in a study conducted by Italian researchers.
The research team speculated that this happened because prayer and mantra slow the breath rate to an optimal six breaths per minute. Vocal recitations engage the breath rhythms that, in turn, influence the heart rhythms via the central nervous system.
Today, remember to breathe slowly and fully, no matter what you’re doing. Smoothing and lengthening breathing regulates heart rhythms, oxygenates the blood, and induces a feeling of calm and well-being.