The Vedas are India’s most ancient and sacred teachings, an oral tradition that was first written down about three thousand years ago. They were chanted and memorised and passed on from generation to generation, and used to be the preserve of men of particular castes.
Towards the end of his life, however, the great yogi T Krishnamacharya felt that the art of Vedic chanting was in danger of becoming extinct as India became more modernised, and that it should therefore be taught to any who were sincere in their desire to learn.
Since then it has been taught by teachers in his tradition, both as an art and discipline, and as a practice which can bring many of the benefits that yoga brings – it can make people feel better, healthier, happier, more positive, more at peace with themselves and the world. It is used extensively for healing, having proved to be extremely helpful in cases of stuttering and other speech impediments, for example, but also for many others, suffering from all kinds of problems and none.
You do not have to be able to sing! Only three notes are used. Chanting from the Veda-s is the most wonderful thing to do. The sound takes us to silence, the silence of the heart. It is a meditative discipline – indeed, Krishnamacharya used to say that it was the most suitable meditation for people in this distracted age. It makes us feel calmer but also stronger, more joyful and more positive.
Modern science is at last finding explanations for what people knew experientially thousands of years ago: the neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.
The Veda-s are the great teachings on which all the classical Indian philosophies, including yoga, were based. When we chant them, we connect not only with our own heart, but also with people going back over thousands of years.
I love it for the way it makes me feel, and also because sometimes, when I feel that I can do nothing else – not asana (bodily postures), not pranayama (breathing exercises), not meditation – I can still chant.
I teach both face to face and with Zoom, which can be downloaded free. I charge £35 for a 50-minute individual class, and I plan to continue teaching courses on Zoom.
During the last year I developed two courses which I teach on Zoom. They consist of seven sessions, usually over seven weeks, each session lasting one hour.
An Introduction to Sanskrit and Mantra costs £50, and is a mix of theory and practice. I look at some key Sanskrit words used frequently in yoga, and some mantras, one of which we use in a short practice. One person wrote: Thank you so much…I felt uplifted and light after the session…
An Introduction to Vedic Chanting costs a little more: £50 plus £35 for an individual class, (this is optional!) and a book of chants is needed, which I send you, costing £21, or around £25 with postage.
Quite a few people have now done an introductory course in Vedic chant with me. If enough people would like me to do a follow-on course, then I should be happy to offer it: same format: seven weeks with an hour’s class a week, plus at least one individual class if you want a certificate at the end.
I provide a certificate for these courses, for those who want them.
Please contact me if you are interested in doing either of these courses, and mention, when you do, if there are days or times that you cannot manage, as I shall do the courses again when I have enough people.