Feeling Good Vibrations
Chanting the Om at the beginning and end of a yoga session is one of the more obvious aspects of the practice that set yoga apart as more than just a physical activity, but rather a spiritual practice. So what exactly is behind the Om?
For those new to yoga, chanting the Om can bring on feelings of self-consciousness, but the physical sensation when the Om reverberates through you when a whole roomful of people are chanting soon allows that sense of self-consciousness to fade away. The feel-good factor is immediate, but there is more to the Om than simply the good vibrations.
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean? Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us — the entire universe is moving and vibrating.
Coming from Hinduism, the mantra is considered to have high spiritual and creative power. The Om is both a sound and a symbol rich in meaning and depth.
Origins of the Om
The Om symbol can be found in ancient and medieval manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The symbol has a spiritual meaning in all Indian dharmas, but the meaning and connotations of Om vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions.
In Hinduism, Om is one of the most important spiritual symbols (pratima). It refers to Atman (soul, self within) and Brahman (ultimate reality, entirety of the universe, truth, divine, supreme spirit, cosmic principles, knowledge).
The Om is a sacred spiritual incantation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during private prayers, in ceremonies of rites of passages (sanskara) such as weddings, and sometimes during meditative and spiritual activities such as Yoga.
Why do we chant the Om?
Everything in the universe is pulsating and vibrating – effectively nothing is really standing still! The Om sound, when chanted, vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz which is the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature.
As such, AUM emulates the basic sound of the universe. By chanting it, we are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound and acknowledging our connection to all other living beings, nature and the universe. On a deeper spiritual level, the AUM also relates to 7 levels of consciousness.
The vibrations and rhythmic pronunciation of the Om have a physical effect on the body by slowing down the nervous system and calming the mind, just like meditation. When the mind is relaxed, blood pressure decreases and ultimately the health of your heart improves.
Chanting the Om at the beginning and end of yoga practice signifies that this is a special time in which to care for ourselves and practice being mindful, helping to connect us to our practice in a deeper way than just with physical postures.
The chanting of Om is intended to drive away all worldly thoughts removing distraction and infusing new vigour in the body.
If feeling depressed, chant the Om fifty times and you will be filled with new vigour and strength. The chanting of Om is a powerful tonic. When you chant Om, you feel part of the pure, all pervading light and consciousness.
The rythmic pronunciation of Om makes the mind serene and focused, and infuses the spiritual qualifications that ensure self-realization.
The 4 Syllables of Om
The Om sounds like “Aum” and actually consists of four syllables:
A, U, M and the silent syllable.
The first syllable of the Om is pronounced as a prolonged “awe.” The sound starts at the back of your throat and as it progresses, you start to feel your solar plexus and chest vibrate.
The second syllable is pronounced as a prolonged “oo,” with the sound gradually rolling forward along your upper palate. You can feel your throat vibrate.
The third syllable is pronounced as a prolonged “mmm” with your front teeth gently touching. You will now start to feel the top of your tongue vibrate.
The last syllable is the deep silence of the Infinite. As intelligence rises from the deep silence, you have to merge your chant from the ‘M’ to the deep silence.
Symbolically, the three sounds embody the divine energy or Shakti and its 3 main characteristics:
(1) creation (2) preservation and (3) liberation.
How to Chant the Om
Your yoga teacher will talk you through the Om chant, but for those who are new to the practice, follow these four easy steps:
1. Find a quiet place, sit down comfortably, close your eyes and relax your whole body and begin to breathe slowly and deeply.
2. Concentrate on the space between your eyebrows and begin to silence the conscious mind. Repeat “Om” mentally while thinking about infinity, eternity, immortality, etc. Repeat the Om with the feeling that you are the infinite and all pervading. Simply repeating the Om will not bring the desired results.
3. Keep the meaning of Om at heart. Feel the Om. Feel that you are the pure, perfect, all knowing and eternal. Feel that you are absolute consciousness and the infinite, unchanging existence.
4. Every part of your body should powerfully vibrate with these ideas. This feeling should be kept up all day long.
Practice chanting the Om regularly and steadily with sincerity, faith and perseverance and feel the benefits grow.
In time, your body will be actually working in harmony with your voice. What is more, as yoga master Rama Jyoti Vernon states, “Exhalation is an egoless state. ” As she says, “I am not doing the Om, the Om is done through me.”
Radiant Yoga Marbella offers a variety of yoga classes in our Marbella studio including Hot Yoga (similar to Bikram, but with more varied sequencing), Vinyasa Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga Flow, Anasura Yoga, Traditional Hatha Yoga and Kids’ Yoga.
Please keep an eye on our Facebook page where you’ll find up-to-date information about our classes, workshops and other yoga information. Text: LCE.