How to Synchronize Your Breath While Chanting Mantras

Synchronize Your Breath


It is often confusion when we should exhale or inhale while chanting a Mantra. There are three ways in which we can chant the Mantras:

  1. Manasik: - Chanting the Mantra by heart, in your mind without making any sound.
  2. Upamsu: - Humming the Mantra in a voice with lower volume.
  3. Vaikhari: - A group of sadhakas chanting a Mantra loudly in a kirtan form or ‘Anushthan’ of a Mantra by a single person for a particular number of repetitions.

In a day we breathe 21,600 times approximately. When we cry immediately after birth, it is said that we chant ‘Soham’ (that’s me) to establish our existence on earth. This ‘Soham’ is synchronized as ‘So’ with inhaling and ‘ham’ with exhaling.

 In the same way, when we are given our Isht (specific for a particular person) Mantras by our Guru, it should be chanted with the rhythm which automatically synchronizes with our breath. Our Rishis have formulated the way to chant these Mantras with this idea in mind.

However, any Mantra is prefixed by ‘Om’.And if you want to know when to inhale or exhale, you should inhale fully, chant ‘Om’ and then chant the Mantra while exhaling. This is the correct way to chant the Mantras.

“Why?”, you may ask.

The reason is simple. We can only emit our voice properly while we exhale. It is how our vocal cords are designed to work. We may generate sounds while inhaling, but it is extremely difficult to create meaningful, audible words.

Besides, our throat and mouth dry up quicker if we try to inhale while keeping our mouths open. You can verify this while doing ‘Shitali / Shitkari’ in Yogasanas.

Anyway, you should not perform ‘Jap’ in a hurried manner. Nor should you slow down to the extreme. Every Mantra has a particular rhythm, which should be followed meticulously. This is because it is a sound power which stimulates the pituitary gland, which in turn is responsible for controlling other glands and our metabolism.

If you have decided to perform a certain number of repetitions, you’ll have to spend the necessary amount of time to achieve the desired result.

Ajaapa Jap

When a Mantra is to be chanted non-stop, as in a ‘Tapasya’ or ‘Sadhana’ for achieving a particular boon from God (just like Raavan or Pralhaad), it should be chanted in a rhythm only.

 Inhale to fill your lungs completely and then utter the Mantra while exhaling slowly. Do not hurry up. The rate of exhaling the air should be constant throughout, to maintain the frequencies properly.

In case of Om Namah Shivaay, take a deep breath first. Then, chant Om Namah Shivaay all the while exhaling; do not stop in the middle. Make sure that you breathe all the air out when you reach the end of ‘Shivaay’. This is called ‘Ajaap’ Jap.

And you have to do this for every iteration of the Mantra. So, do not cram multiple repetitions of this Mantra in one breath. Doing so may bring about hazardous consequences. This is not some project management endeavor where your breath is a resource and the number of iterations is the goal. Make sure that you reserve every single breath for each repetition.

How is Ajaapa Jap different from ‘Nityopasana’?

First of all, Ajaap Jap represents continuous chants while maintaining your daily routine. Nityopasana is what you do with full devotion for a limited number of times, as mentioned in the article on ‘Om Namah Shivaay’

Both are different ways to chant this Mantra, with equally different requirements and benefits. They should not be confused with one another. However, the way to breathe while chanting this Mantra remains the same, barring other requirements.

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Published on Sep 3rd, 2018

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