Bhramari and the Covid Choir

Swami Bhaktananda, Hungary

I am happy to share my experience of a positive event, which included Swamiji’s Breathe for Healthy Lungs program. The events happened last week from Tuesday to Saturday.

Dr Katalin Vardai, an eminent pulmonologist, has formed a so-called ’Covid choir’ as she uses singing as a therapeutic tool. Some of the members of the choir are ex-covid patients and some are currently in a lung sanatorium due to serious respiratory disorders. Some of them are in wheelchairs carrying their oxygen containers. In addition to the patients, four professional singers joined the choir.

The well-known Hungarian conductor Mr Ivan Fischer, who leads the world-famous Budapest Festival Orchestra, heard about the doctor’s choir and invited them to perform two songs from Carmina Burana before their concert in Budapest.

Preparing for the event, the doctor called me to teach the choir members breathing exercises in 15 minutes before the rehearsals. There were five sessions in total, during which they did some of the exercises from the Breathe for Healthy Lungs program. During the first session the choirmaster, one of the professional singers, was very impressed with the effects, saying that choir members became obviously calmer and more focused after the breathing exercises. In fact, he loved bhramari pranayama so much that he decided to start the concert with it.

Finally, the concert was held in Hungary’s largest concert hall. Before the choir members took to the stage, the conductor, Mr Ivan Fischer told the audience what they were going to see from the choir and he spoke about bhramari.

He stressed the importance of breathing exercises and singing and presented the initiative as an example to follow.

In the minutes before going on stage another interesting situation occurred in which a part of yoga nidra was applied. The scene was backstage, where a lot of people were getting ready: the members of the symphonic orchestra with their instruments, the singers, our choir members and the concert hall stewards.

Then one of our choir members, who was in a wheelchair, had a minor panic attack. As we were only minutes from the performance, the choir leader asked me to help her. In this hustle and bustle, I squatted down next to her chair and guided her awareness around the body parts, like in yoga nidra. It only took a few minutes, and at the end she opened her eyes with a smile and went on stage.