Vocal toning harnesses the power of your own voice in order to enhance your wellbeing and help you to achieve optimum health of both body and mind. It is a powerful sound healing technique that is available to almost everyone and you do not need to be musical in any way to use it. Even if you have limited speech capacities it is still possible for most people to produce a vibration or humming sound that can have enormously beneficial effects when used with intention.
Vocal toning creates a vibration that acts as a therapeutic massage for both body and mind, helping to relieve stress, to relax your muscles, to focus your mind and to release negative feelings.
Other forms of sound therapy using the power of the human voice include chanting mantras, singing and varying tones or harmonies within a rhythmic structure. These are beneficial in their own ways, but the difference between these types of sound healing and vocal toning is that in toning you use one steady tone per exhale.
The reason for combining information on vocal toning with chakra work in this article is because the two are very closely aligned. We will look at how vocal toning can work to clear and cleanse the important energy centers known as chakras.
In future articles we will explore the connections between healing sounds and the Chinese healing modality known as Five Element Theory. There are many parallels between these theories and modalities and a blended approach to working with them as we work on our own health and wellbeing is definitely beneficial. However, the modalities themselves are the product of thousands of years’ worth of human observations, so it is impossible to consider all of the information in just one article.
For ease of reference and study we will look at the Chakra system and the Five element system in separate articles.
Our Energy Fields
In order to fully appreciate how the vibrations of sound frequencies impact upon our physical bodies we need to look at how energy moves around us and where it resides relative to our bodies. This energy is known by various names depending on which of the disciplines you care to research, but it is essentially the same whether you term it Chi, Prana, Universal Energy, Biofield Energy or Electromagnetic Energy.
Traditionally, the model for representing this energy field is made up of seven layers, and there is a definite connection between these layers and our chakra systems. Once we accept that this is so we are in the position to begin to feel the connection of our physical bodies with the layers of energy. This often manifests as a tingling in the fingers, and can also be described as a feeling of being cocooned within a sphere of energy. Pushing gently against this energy field can feel much like pressing the membrane of a balloon. Acknowledging this feeling connects us viscerally to the immense healing potential of the energies around us, and truly empowers us to become our own healers.
The meridian channels mentioned above will be familiar to anyone who has an interest in Acupuncture or Shiatsu (Acupressure). These channels meet at various points in the body in what are known as Tsubos, command points, nodes or vortices. In order to achieve the best level of health and wellbeing for ourselves we want to keep the energy flowing freely and unimpeded through all of these channels. Practicing Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong are all excellent ways to do this, as is the use of vocal toning to send cleansing vibrations through the system in order to harmonize and realign any energy that may have become blocked or stagnant.
What are the Chakras?
Solar Plexus Chakra
Third Eye Chakra
Hover over the symbol(s) in the diagram above to hear and vocally tone along with each of the 7 Main Chakras.
It may be useful here to remind ourselves of the different properties of the chakras and the consequences of energy imbalances or disharmonies within them. Becoming familiar with your own chakras, how they feel, how you feel at certain times and, importantly, what you can do to keep these centers healthy and balanced is an invaluable tool in your self-care toolkit.
The Bija or “seed” mantras are represented in the diagram below. The “seed” is the sound associated with each chakra and is portrayed as a symbol or letter within each chakra. Each sound is especially attuned to that chakra on a physical level, so it is not possible to make up your own healing sounds if you want to work with healing the chakras in this way.
Why not? Let’s take the Base or root chakra as an example of how these sounds work. The sound is “Lam”, with the final diphthong drawn out to creating a kind of humming sound. The initial consonant in this case is “L”. Repeating the L sound several times actually causes your pelvic floor to contract upwards. This sound brings your consciousness to where the chakra is, in this case at the base of your spine and the perineum. The “ummm” sound then expands your consciousness within the chakra, allowing the vibrations to open and heal this energy center.
The Base or Root Chakra
Governs our sense of safety and security in the world. Keeps us grounded and helps us to make wise decisions regarding our own health, safety and wellbeing.
An imbalance may well manifest as pain in the lower abdomen, hips and knees, or as feelings of fear, anxiety and depression
The Sacral Chakra
Sometimes called the “water center” because of its links with urinary and reproductive systems. It is also our emotional center in that an unbalanced Sacral chakra can lead to over reactions to everyday situations, a lack of enthusiasm for life in general or loss of libido. The mantra of health Sacral chakra could well be “I enjoy life to the full”. If you are having difficulties with your own sexual identity, or with expressing your needs and desires on a sexual level, healing this chakra is the best place to start your healing journey to comfort and happiness with sensual pleasure of all kinds.
The Solar Plexus Chakra
This chakra is all about inner strength, personal power and warrior energy. It governs our gut instincts and is the seat of our feelings of self-worth and confidence. When it is balance we feel in control and have sufficient will power and discipline to achieve our goals. We also feel comfortable with our own decisions and are not afraid to stand up for our beliefs. The Solar plexus can become blocked quite easily – reference that tightening in your gut when you are taken by surprise, feel threatened or just know that something is not right. By the same token it can become over-active if we push our physical or emotional bodies too far or too fast. Finding the right vibration to balance your Solar Plexus chakra gives you the means to address either of these conditions before they become problematic.
The Heart Chakra
An open, healthy Heart chakra is vital for our well-being because being able to both give and receive love without reservations or anxiety is the key to good health of both mind and body. All too often we let unfounded fears stop us from truly expressing our love for people, and we often resist accepting love from others through fear or anxiety or a lack of self-belief. Our Heart chakra can become blocked or tight through traumas that happened in the past, or through events happening right now. Finding ways to open, cleanse and heal your Heart chakra is empowering and allows you to become your own healer.
The Throat Chakra
A balanced throat chakra is important for communication of all kinds, not just verbal. When this chakra is working as it should we can speak freely and authentically without fear of judgement or reprisal from others. When it is in need of cleansing and clearing we may find that we suffer from physical sore throats and from feelings of tightness or discomfort in the throat and neck area. When the Throat chakra is in good health we no longer feel the need to lie in order to protect ourselves.
The Third Eye or Brow Chakra
Also known as the spiritual center, this chakra allows us to see beyond limiting beliefs. It also helps us to form connections with Spirit, with the Divine and with our guides and angels. An imbalanced Third Eye chakra may lead to feelings of alienation, feelings of not belonging in the world and loneliness.
Discovering the sound to use in vocal toning to activate and stimulate your Third Eye chakra helps you experience clear thought processes and improves self-awareness and self-reflection. This chakra governs the connection between your mind and the outside world and, when clear of debris or blockage allows you to cut through illusion to see deeper truths. With all the talk of mindfulness that is current at the moment, this chakra is important if you wish to stay in the present moment in order to improve your emotional and mental health.
The Crown Chakra
The sound associated with the Crown chakra is silence. This applies to both the inner and the outer worlds, so that to clear and cleanse this Crown chakra we need to cultivate the art of sitting in silence. As you practice this you will find that your inner chatter also begins to slow down and to stop so that you can access your own inner wisdom and resources in order to enhance your well-being and health.
Benefits of Vocal Toning
Vocal toning is one of the totally safe, inexpensive and effective. This practice assists the body to release stress, tension and pain by using the natural vibrations of your own voice to stimulate your body’s natural healing processes.
Because vocal toning requires us to breathe deeply this automatically draws in oxygen and life force energy, or chi, leading to relaxation and stimulation. Oxygenated blood is beneficial to all of the body’s cells and systems. For example, oxygenation of the brain leads to clearer thinking and muscles supplied with well oxygenated blood function more efficiently.
The vibrations we produce when vocal toning stimulate both the pineal and the pituitary glands. The pituitary glands affects all of our other glands including the gonads, the thyroid and the adrenals. The pineal gland is held to be the center of our spiritual energies and produces melatonin which is essential for healthy sleep patterns. The hypothalamus is responsible for sending signals to your pituitary gland to release the appropriate hormone for your state of mind. If you are feeling fearful, the hormones will be adrenaline and cortisol, which we want to avoid if we are trying to heal our mind/body.
Setting a clear intention is key to the efficacy of vocal toning. When we set an intention we send out a message to the Universe, as well as to our own healing systems, that we actively wish to improve something in our lives. Intentions are personal, and they can be as simple or as complex as you like. For example, when vocalizing the “ahh” sound you may set your intention to feel gratitude and love in all that you do.
The sounds of the vowels are considered sacred in many contexts and cultures. This may simply be because we can draw out, manipulate and change the vowels sounds in a way that is not possible with consonants. They also create overtones which are not usually audible to most of us but which nevertheless have a vibration that is healing to our bodies.
Toning certain vowel sounds can affect different parts of the body: “A” as in PRAY is for clearing in the throat region of the body; “E” as in BE is for energizing and stimulating in the face/head/brain region. Instead of “I”, toning “AH” helps us to centre within, and expand around, the heart space; “O” as in KNOW is for energizing and stimulating the solar plexus region. Finally “U” as in WHO is grounding and calming in the lower back and base of the spine.
Types of Vocal Toning Used in Yogic Traditions
Nada Yoga is a branch of Yoga dedicated to the use of sound, tone and vibration. As we have already seen, each of the seven energy centers, or chakras has a sound assigned to it that is in tune with the energy flowing through that center (or “nadi”) and is thus ideally suited to clearing and cleansing any energy blockages or imbalances. This form of Sound Healing uses both internal and external sounds to create the necessary vibrations to clear the chakras.
If you want to try this right now follow these instructions to create the “Humming Bee Breath”:
Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, hands resting easily in your lap
Calm and center yourself by breathing naturally in and out of your nose
After a generous inhale, hum a tone that comes naturally to you (not changing the tone in rate, pitch or frequency) for the entire length of your exhale (you will feel the “Mmmmmm” initiate at the back of your throat, expand to heart and head, and then fill the whole body)
Each exhale find a new tone to hum (higher or lower)
Repeat for as many cycles you are called to tone
When you feel complete, sit in silence in order to experience the benefits.
This technique is wonderful for balancing and opening the Heart chakra. It helps us to let go of negativity, to understand where our confusion or anger is coming from and to replace feelings of resentment or bitterness with compassion, gratitude, kindness and joy.
When you learn vocal toning you are equipping yourself with a powerful tool to enable you to take charge of your own healing, and what is more, it is always available and costs nothing.