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OMMM  - What was that?

For many yoga students, myself included,  uttering the sound OM or AUM at first seemed either strange, awkward, scary and even a little cult-like.

Believe me, these thoughts have crossed my mind many times early in my yoga life, but if one takes a moment to realize and understand some basics of this symbol and chant, you may become the student in class that chants it the loudest because it now means something to you.

When a student comes to a yoga class at almost any yoga studio, you can be sure that the mantra OM will be chanted either at the start or end or both ends of the class in order to harmonize a class to the same vibration, thus, harmonizing the chanter with the primordial sound of the universe.  One can compare this experience to a conductor harmonizing an orchestra before a concert. Typically, it will be said three times. The question arises then, why do we say OM and what is its significance in yoga and to us.

For a simple explanation, think of OM as the universal sound of all creation.  It’s the shortest of all mantras (mantra- a phrase or word used for meditation and chanting) and can be attached to other mantras.  According to yoga tradition, EVERYTHING originates from the primordial vibration which is symbolised by OM. All material objects, all living beings, lncluding US, all spiritual teachings including yoga, all languages including sanskrit, all scriptures including the Vedas originates at OM. When the 'powers that be' created our material universe, they created it using the humming sound vibration of OM and this same vibration continues to exist all around us and within each of us.  When you think about Einsteins theory (E=mc2), which indicates that matter is an expression of energy, every atom (at-OM) and every molecule in every corner of our universe is formed out of energy vibration which is symbolised by OM. Even today, we see how one form of energy can be converted into another like electricity to heat and sound. It’s all built on the foundation of OM.

If you think about why we chant OM in yoga, a good place to start looking for an explanation would be the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Here, we find many instances of the sacred meaning of OM. For example, Sutra 1.29 states 'From this practice all the obstacles disappear and simultaneously dawns knowledge of the inner self.' It continues into the next sutra with the following, Sutra 1.30 'Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from ground gained –these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles.'

It becomes clear through Patanjali's writings that chanting this simple mantra, OM, can free us from obstacles in our lives and connect us further to our true selves.  Our true selves exist whether we acknowledge it or not. We are born into it, but as we develop behaviors and habit patterns from being integrated into society more and more, the true self is often buried under fears and learned behaviors. When we begin to recognize our power, our luminosity, and our divine nature, we begin to live authentic lives of appreciation, fulfillment, and grace. Rediscovering ourselves apart from our learned behaviors takes time and courage.  We find it difficult to separate our true identities from the identity we have created to cope with in the world around us. This is where the practice of chanting the simple mantra of OM can serve someone in quieting the mind first and developing a higher consciousness that aligns our spirit with the universal soul, which is our true self. Personally speaking, beginning to chant OM in my own practice and within a class has strengthened my levels of confidence, courage, patience and ability to 'let go' for a brief moment of all that I have, the stresses I live and feel a sense of 'release' that takes me to a better understanding of myself one step at a time. Confidence and courage to lead a class in actually chanting OM and patience in understanding the reasons why and even how I chant OM. All this has led me to small insights to better understanding my 'true self.'

One will find OM mentioned in many ancient texts of yoga.  For all of you who practice Yoga Nidra, as offered at Power Yoga Germany, the three letters that represent A, U and M also represent the Waking, Dream and Deep Sleep states of the conscious, sub-conscious and unconsious states of the mind. And just as in Yoga Nidra where one moves to Deep conscious sleep becoming calmer physically, emotionally and mentally in order to peel away old habit patterns to realize our 'true selves' in life, the same can be said for the chanting of OM.  When we apply the continued chanting of OM (called Udgita Pranayama—meaning Sung or Hymn breath control-- chanting OM repeatedly while focusing on the OM sound while exhaling), we become filled with peace, calmness and serenity. It begins to bring us closer to our 'true selves', which is represented by vital energy (cosmic prana) and the air that we all breathe.

I have experienced the chanting of OM in many flavors. It sounds simple enough, but i have probably pronounced these two or three letters a thousand different ways. From the start of my yoga practice to the present, the meaning and pronounciation of OM or AUM has been refined again and again giving me deeper glimpes of my 'true self' at times.

Knowing how to chant OM is a good place to start and if we consider the Yoga Sutra 1.28 previously mentioned from Patanjali, it’s important that when chanting OM to keep its meaning and significance in mind. OM can be chanted from many yogic asana positons and you may have experienced a few here at Power Yoga Germany like in downward dog, savasana and tadasana, but the most commonplace for chanting this universal sound of creation is just sitting in a cross legged position, with the spine, neck and head in an upright position and aligned. Close the eyes and take a deep inhalation and while exhaling begin the sound of OM. Feel the vibration of the 'O' sound building up the navel area and traveling upward. As you continue, feel the vibration moving upward towards the throat. When the vibration reaches the throat, change the sound to a deep humming of 'M'. Continue to feel the vibration moving upward through the crown of the head. Dependant on how many times you chant OM, once finished sit still and feel the vibration penetrate through your entire body.

So the next time a yoga teacher leads you through the chanting or mantra of OM, let go and take a chance. It’s not just a sound. With some regularity, it’s certain to connect you in some way in better understanding your 'true self' and isn't that the root reason we practice yoga to begin with?

Autor: Eric Bennewitz



Nr Künstler Titel iTunes
01 Bill Laswell Aum in Kürze
02 Soulfood Om in Kürze
03 Deva Premal Om Purnam I in Kürze
04 M.A. Khan & D. Schommer Om Namah Shivaya in Kürze
05 Terry Oldfield Aum in Kürze
06 Jane Winther Om in Kürze
07 Maneesh De Moor Om in Kürze
09 Jane Winther Om Mani Padme Hum in Kürze
10 Gabrielle Roth Stillness in Kürze
11 Deva Premal Om Shanti Om in Kürze

compiled by Andrea Kubasch