The Therapeutic Power of Indian Classical Music

The Therapeutic Power of Indian Classical Music

May 26, 2018 1 Comment

INTRODUCTION

Indian Classical Music has been known since ancient times for its extraordinary potential as a therapeutic aid for providing relief in certain ailments of the body and the mind. The soulful, rhythmic tunes of classical Ragas has an endless positive impact on the brain, heart, nervous system, blood circulation, metabolism and the ability to control the state of mind. Music therapy through Indian Classical Music is no recent development; it has been in practice as alternative or complementary to curative therapy for ages. In present times, extensive research is being conducted to establish the scientific ground behind the power of music to alleviate different physiological disorders.


DISEASES WHERE MUSIC THERAPY HAS PROVED BENEFICIAL

Indian classical music manifested through the framework of different Raga (Raag or Ragam ) has proven to be beneficial in a number of diseases ranging from a simple headache to even cancer. The conditions in which classical music has been found to reduce discomfort and alleviate symptoms are Hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, migraine, arthritis, cardiac ailments, asthma, fever, cold and cough, allergic reactions, chronic pain, insomnia, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and many others. Classical music also aids patients with neurological disorders like epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease or behavioral disorders like Schizophrenia, anxiety, autism --- to nurture a better approach for a fulfilling, healthier life.


HOW CLASSICAL MUSIC THERAPY HELPS

To talk in more details, ancient Indian classical music follows the pattern of Sapta Swara (7 notes) which are each distinct in all aspects thereby impacting different parts of the body and brain when they are sung or heard. The mellifluous melodies created by harmonious confluence of these seven “swara” give rise to the Ragas which build the foundation of Indian Classical music.

The Raga Research Institute in Chennai is now conducting a comprehensive study of different Indian Ragas and their therapeutic potential with a team of competent musicians, doctors and psychiatrists to discover the exact pathway of influence of music on the body for alleviation of diseases.

So far it is known that classical music stimulates the main action centre of the brain, the pituitary gland whose secretions have impact on the nervous system.

The vibrations from instrumental music vibrate the body cells and thus improves blood circulation and bone health.

Singing or listening to classical music for a prolonged time relaxes and refreshes the mind and body, reducing negative emotions. Soft, soulful music enhances positive emotions and energizes the body for renewed spirit of life.

Though music therapy varies in a drastic manner from person to person owing to individual tastes, choices and physical conditions (For example, a patient of high blood pressure cannot be exposed to any upbeat music as it will worsen his or her condition), it can be concluded that music therapy maintains emotional, physiological and psychological balance and provides a wholesome relief.


THE DISEASES AND THE RAGAS

DISEASE HOW CLASSICAL MUSIC HELPS MOST HELPFUL RAGAS
Hypertension
  • The slow melody acts as an auditory stimulus to the brain. The brain has an overall calming response which in turn slows down accelerated heart rate and lowers blood pressure
  • Listening to soft Indian classical music played on stringed instruments as Veena and Sitar improves blood circulation and thus a steady blood pressure is maintained
  • Raga Ahir Bhairav
  • Raga Puriya
  • Raga Todi
Diabetes
  • The soothing sounds improve blood circulation in the body of the listener helping in proper assimilation of body glucose
  • The instrumental music acts as an auditory stimulus to the brain to enhance the metabolic activities of the body. This promotes better digestion and less deposition of glucose in blood thus lowering blood sugar level
  • Raga Bageshree
  • Raga Puriya Dhanashree
  • Raga Shree
Migraine
  • The melodious tunes create a diversion for the brain from the pain signals, thus giving the sensation of relief from headache or neck pain in migraine
  • It helps to lower the secretion of cortisol ( stress hormone) and gives a relaxing effect in stress-induced migraine pain
  • The vibrations from the music creates a soothing effect on the Autonomous Nervous system ( brain and spinal nerves) and promotes better body functions
  • Raga Darbari Kanada
  • Raga Gunakali
  • Raga Jaijaiwanti
  • Raga Sohani
Arthritis
  • The powerful vibrations from the music impact the body cells deeply thereby improving bone health
  • The music engages the attention of the brain and creates a diversion from pain signals, thus the body experiences alleviation of chronic arthritic pain
  • The lively instrumental tunes help the listener to respond to the rhythm with their body making more use of the affected parts
  • Raga Hindol
  • Raga Madhuvanti
  • Raga Bhairavi
  • Raga Yaman
Fever
  • The vibrations and the auditory stimulus from the tunes, generate a calming effect on the brain and nerves thereby helping to alleviate symptoms of fever like high temperature and shivering
  • Raga Shivranjani
  • Raga Kedar
  • Raga Shree
Asthma
  • The flowing soulful melody of certain ragas is known to be helpful in relaxing asthmatic patients by improving breathing pattern
  • Raga Malhar
  • Raga Darbari Kanada
  • Raga Shyam Kalyan
  • Raga Megh
Stress & Insomnia
  • Classical music helps to bring down the level of cortisol (stress hormone) secretion thereby promoting stress reduction and comfortable sleep
  • Raga Bageshree
  • Raga Kafi
  • Raga Bhim Palasree
  • Raga Kedar
  • Raga Darbari
  • Raga Neelambari
Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s
  • The soothing music calms the frequency of brain waves and relieves mental turbulence
  • Raga Shankarabharanam
  • Raga Karaharapriya
Post-Stroke Recovery & Paraplegia
  • Certain lively, rhythmic Ragas enhance the frequency of the brain waves thus bringing more focus and concentration helping to recover to normal life in case of stroke
  • Impacts the limbic part of brain and triggers positive emotions
  • Raga Bageshree
  • Raga Jhinjhoti
  • Raga Bihag
Cancer
  • Classical music helps to bring down the level of cortisol (stress hormone) secretion thereby relieving stress-induced anxiety, discomfort and pain
  • Also increases the serotonin (happiness hormone) level
  • Raga Bhairavi
  • Raga Bageshree
  • Raga Bhim Palasree
  • Raga Tilak Kamod


THE CLASSICAL INSTRUMENTS

10 AMAZING INSTRUMENTS OF INDIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC THERAPY

Tanpura

The intense drone of this instrument sets the prelude for the start of a Raga, in resonance with the tonal pitch of the singer. Tanpura sound has been found to be effective in providing an effect of peace and calm in cancer patients

Sitar

The sonorous music from the Sitar generates an ambiance of meditation which relaxes the mind and the body. Especially helpful for stress reduction and pain relief in migraine

Sarod

The natural notes of the Sarod create a positive impact on the brain increasing the secretion of serotonin (happiness hormone). Also helps in promoting concentration and focus during post stroke recovery

Flute

The soprano instrument touches the high octaves. It improves blood circulation and helps to maintain steady blood pressure in patients of hypotension (low blood pressure)

Veena

The soprano instrument touches the high octaves. It improves blood circulation and helps to maintain steady blood pressure in patients of hypotension (low blood pressure)

Tabla

The powerful beats of the Tabla produce accelerated brain waves which help patients with Arthritis or other mobility limitations to respond to the rhythm with their body parts. Also helps in reducing risk of cardiac problems

Sarangi

This is said to be one of the best suitable instruments to accompany Classical vocals. It has a relaxing effect and relieves stress, anxiety, headache. Also lowers blood pressure by slowing down faster heart rate

Shehnai

This wind instrument is known to promote better energy levels and improving body metabolism and bone health on prolonged listening

Santoor

The soothing soft melody of Santoor relaxes anxiety. It has a calming effect on brain and nervous system that reduce Tachycardia (accelerated heart rate) and high blood pressure

Jaltarang

The soulful tune of this water instrument creates a diversion for the brain from the pain signals, thus providing pain relief in arthritis or migraine


CONCLUSION

Music can help us lead a better and healthier life. Indian Classical Music as a medium for music therapy is one of the most popular complementary therapy nowadays. With Indian Classical Music gaining international popularity steadily, its therapeutic potential is also reaching and benefitting many around the world.


By Sayantani Nath

Guest Author and Student of Biology


Bibliography

Raga Therapy, Raga Music Therapy | Music Therapy For Wellness, Anuradha Mahesh | Music (raga) and its Therapeutic Effect, Ayurveda For You



1 Response

Ashok Anant Khare
Ashok Anant Khare

June 13, 2018

I am very much impressed after reading this article on music therapy.

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