Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To Om or not to Om

I have always “Om”ed at the beginning & end of each class yoga class that I teach – no matter where I have taught, this has been part of my class.  I learned to teach in studios where the Om was part of the yoga practice.  But I've also taught in studios where the owners & other teachers didn't Om.  And even when I opened my studio, very few people would join in with me.  As a result, I've “Om”ed alone alot. 
I practiced with a podcast class one day in which the teacher announced that they were going to chant Om.  She said “it's just a sound, no big deal”. 
It is a sound & I get where she's coming from when she says it's no big deal.  Some people think chanting is weird, or that it's part of being a cult - it's different & it puts them off or even frightens them.  New students sometimes snicker when they hear that first Om.  Wikipedia describes it as a mystical sound & sacred incantation...that does sound a little weird & intimidating.
To me, it's not intimidating, it's not weird & chanting it doesn't mean I'm a cult leader.  But is a big deal & it's more than “just” a sound.  Om is the sound of the creation of the Universe...literally.  Within it, it holds all others sounds (like white light holds all the colors of the rainbow).  It is a mantra, which is a chant.  It helps clears your mind & focus your energy.  And when you chant Om, especially more than once, & your thumbs rest against your chest, you can feel the vibration you are creating.  When you stand in a room of 20, 30, 80 people & everyone chants together – it's amazing. It's awe inspiring.  You can feel it.  It IS a big deal.  Om at the beginning of class marks the start of your practice.  It's almost like an audible reminder that yes, I'm here & I doing this now – this is a special time & I am going to be present for it.  When someone asks our 4 year old son about yoga, he Oms.  He doesn't care where we are, how he sounds, or who's watching.  I'm not sure he understands what he's doing, but I love it.  I love that he doesn't worry about it, he just goes for it.  To him, it's part of yoga. 

How you sound when you chant it - that's not a big deal.  You don't have to sound like Pavarotti, you don't have to be able to carry a tune (I can't!).  Let the sound take over.  Loose yourself in it & enjoy it.  Part of the practice is letting go of worrying how you look, & in the case of "Om"ing, how you sound.  Let it become part of your practice, and let it become part of your day.  When you're stuck in traffic, you can listen to the traffic or the news on the radio & submit yourself to further distraction.  Or you can Om.  Try it.  See what happens.

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