Swara is a Sanskrit word meaning sound or musical note. Swara Yoga is an ancient practice which views the body and all the objects of the Universe as one immense orchestral masterpiece. This type of yoga essentially deals with controlling the vibratory quality of the body thorugh the breath, but it is much more, an awareness of the audible essence of things. The 5000 year old tradition of Swara yoga embodies elements which modern science is just now confirming – that every single rock, tree, flower, table, chair and personate vibrates at a certain ‘pitch.’ We all have our own resonance. Every single cell, even, has its own perfect resonance at which it is most alive and whole. Essentially, each manifestation of the Universe in physical form has its own sound.

We can see the teachings of Swara yoga in many traditions. In ancient Egypt, for example, the wisdom of Swara yoga was prevalent among Kings and Queens. They knew of seven sacred sounds which could be utilized to “tune up” the cells of the body via the chakras, or seven energy centers. When these seven sacred sounds were voiced or played, the entire body began to vibrate in harmony. The body was harmonized all the way down through the physical structure, to the cell, to the very DNA, and then further into the body into the etheric and subtle bodies. These bodies are composed of less dense matter, and do not manifest in physical form, but have their own vibration, nonetheless. We are essentially a symphony of sound.

When disease forms, it is due to a disharmony. It is as if the entire orchestra of our body is playing along, except several key players, are playing the same music, just one beat behind. When extreme dis-ease happens within the physical structure, it is actually a sign of the orchestra playing at its worst. Not only is the body one beat behind, but several of the players, maybe even the conductor has the wrong score! Disease actually manifests as an erroneous vibration within the etheric and subtle bodies before it ever shows up within the physical body. When we change that vibration, or give our conductor the right music, we then prevent the dis-ease or the dis-harmony from ever percolating down into the physically manifested form – the body. These metaphors of music are not just literary references to make a point; we really are a walking symphony of sound. The power of sound is in us and all around us.

Most human beings can only sense sound within a certain range. The lowest note on the piano, for example, represents a sound which oscillates at approximately 24 cycles per second. This is usually abbreviated among wave scientists as Hz for hertz. Thi sis the unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second. Sound is actually a travelling wave which has an oscialltion of pressure. When we talk about sound waves we are actually referring to the wave represented visually in a fixed moment of time. Sound waves, however, do not stop moving. They continually travel like the waves of an ocean, only much faster – at about 1100 feet per second!

We can start to understand sound visually if we use a few examples. The highest note on a piano is represented at around 2000 cycles per second. When the Polynesians blew a conch shell and “thus created the world,” as their creation myth purports, they were creating a vibratory pattern which oscillates in deep, shallow wave patterns. A low pitch or sound, such as the conch shell, moves through space in waves that have small peaks and troughs, whereas, a high-pitch sound such as the upper notes of a coloratura soprano’s range, move through space creating waves with very exaggerated peaks and troughs. Dr. Winston Kock has some fascinating articles out there about seeing sound using technology called the Schlieren camera.

Even a rock has a vibratory quality, though we may not sense it because it is not within the human auditory range. Scientists have actually recorded the vibratory rates for many inanimate objects, and even plants in order to prove this fact, but they must represent the rate visually, because the human ear is incapable of hearing specific sounds. Consider your favorite canine’s sensitivity to sound, or the range of a dolphin’s ears – they can sense sound several thousand times beyond our own limited auditory capabilities.

Once we start to change the vibratory quality of the body through the breath and through mantra, we can begin to harmonize from within and then carry this sound ‘wave’ to those around us. We actually start to vibrate sympathetically with those in our periphery. A sympathetic vibration is one that has the same frequency, or a harmonic multiple of that same frequency. For example, if a tuning fork is struck, a second tuning fork within close proximity will begin to vibrate in unison with the original tunin fork, even though the second fork was never touched. The oscillation, or movement, first in one direction, then another, is mimicked by the second, untouched tuning fork. This can happen with the human voice, as in mantra repetition or within the cells of the body through pranayama. Swara yoga is essentially the practice of inducing sympathetic vibrations within and then carrying them to those around us everywhere we go.

We can utilize conscious breathing to animate the life force, or pran within the body. We can maximiaze energy through controlled breathign patterns through a sensory network through the nose and through subtle channles within the body connected to the seven chakras which the Egyptians and also the yogis of India and Eastern China and Tibet practiced. We use the breath to balance the rythmy of thebody to come into balance with greater Universal forces – in a phrase, we complement musically with the great symphony of life.

Christina L. Sarich

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Author's Bio: 

Christina is a writer for several online yoga magazines as well as a certified yoga instructor practicing in Dallas, TX.