I have a serious admission: "My name is Lo and I am not a chanter."
Whew! There, I said it. What a weight off my shoulders! It's now in the open.
Chanting seems to be growing and expanding in popularity, not in the pop cultural sense, but in the yogic community. More and more of the classes I'm attending and teachers I know who never used to include it, now do. I am sure that many feel the wish to chant deeply within themselves and are sharing and expressing it with students. Perhaps some believe it's an expected element of the practice and maybe others think it makes them appear more authentic. It's the latter that doesn't sit well with me. I try very hard to be authentic in all areas of my life and when I chant, I don't feel like it fits - like an itchy sweater with uneven seams. It makes me uncomfortable.
I believe it's important to explore what discomfits us and why, so here goes. I am at ease speaking (and singing) and while I am an introvert, I wouldn't say that I'm shy. I'm not overly concerned about what I sound like or look like. That said, I would completely understand if any of these were reasons why someone else maintained a chantless practice. My yoga practice is so individual, so sacred, and such an inner exploration for me, that it doesn't feel right for me to direct that energy outward. My focus is on my own energy, though I do bring respect for those I practice with. I am there for me, which I believe passes along positively to the people I love and care about. I include the things that are a fit.
This isn't to say don't challenge yourself within your practice - that's a must! I play the edges with looong headstands, lots of arm balances, diving deeper and more fully into meditation, working on my respect and practice of Savasana. But I think it's important to maintain an AUTHENTIC practice, and this is something that is unique to each of us. For some, this includes chanting. For others, it simply doesn't speak to us (pun subconsciously intended!). There is no universal right or wrong answer. You have to include what resonates for YOU.
I'm coming to a place where, if others are chanting at a class I'm in, I am able to appreciate the focus and the communion of their energy. I've begun consciously enjoying the hum of their voices while centering myself. This is my happy medium.
Chanting or no, shutting yo mouth or opening it, your practice belongs to you and no one else. Stay true to yourself, make it your own, and keep it authentic. Being true to our deepest selves is yogic gold.