Ever experienced 'Om' in a yoga class and wondered what it’s all about?
Among the many tools yoga provides to aid concentration, meditation and well being, one of the most profound is mantra. Mantras are the repetition of specific words and sounds intended to give the mind something to focus on; they can be either said mentally or aloud. More important though is the energy the mantra carries, and when used correctly it can offer a deeper experience for your yoga or meditation practice.
It's easy to get caught up in the meanings of different mantras and Om is good example. If you do a google search on the meaning of Om you’ll come up with pages of interpretations (the simplest of which, to save you the trip, is ‘the primordial sound of the universe, of all life’). What's important isn’t so much what it means, but how we feel when we chant it.
Cymatics is the science of sound made visible. Why is this important and how does it relate to mantra? Because every one of us are vibrational beings that respond to sound. This video below is such a powerful visual of how sound affects physical form (you!), and how it reshapes form on a cellular level;
(a warning - keep your volume down low!)
When you consider that everything in the universe is moving and everything that exists vibrates at a certain frequency; then by repeating one sound, like Om for example, you cultivate the vibration connected with that particular sound. It's like planting a seed and then watering it. The first time you repeat a mantra is the planting; every repetition that follows nurtures and feeds that vibration, that energy, that sound seed. Mantra has a cumulative effect; so the more you practice, the more you benefit.
I also find the more I practice mantra, the more easily I move out of ‘hearing’ the sound in my head and just feel the vibration permeate through my body. Mantra is such an amazing and accessible tool with many proven benefits. Next time you’re in class and hear/chant Om, or any mantra for that matter, see if you can experience the vibration as a felt sensation in your body. This is key when practicing yoga – tuning into our own experience. And as Yogi master Swami Satchidananda says, "When you repeat Om, you hear your own sound."
Benefits of using mantra:
- Helps to lengthen and slow down the breath
- Clears the airways and supplies the body with more oxygen
- Boosts immunity
- Improves blood circulation
- Calms the nervous system
- Brings mind to a single focus
- Helps clear mind of daily clutter
- Reduces anxiety and depression
- Research has even found that chanting Om can help to strengthen your spinal cord!
How to do a good Om:
Om is made up of four sounds: A - U - M and the silence that follows (the silence is the vibration or energy that resonates within you)
- Find a comfortable seat with a straight back. Lift the ribcage and lengthen your spine
- Savour a few quiet and calm breaths
- Take a slow, deep inhale – filling your lower belly and expanding your ribcage out to the sides of the room
- On the exhalation begin chanting OM – in 4 distinct parts –
Inhale and chant twice more on the exhale
It's said that if you simply go through life chanting Om, the very air around you will sparkle!! Try it and experience for yourself :)