Chanting Om

Mantras originated in the Vedic tradition of India and can be defined as sounds, syllables, words, or group of words that are capable of creating transformation.

The most widely known and universal mantra in the yogic tradition is Om, or in its Sanskrit transliteration, Aum. Georg Feuerstein, in his translation of The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, writes: "Since the earliest times the sages of India have symbolized the Absolute by the morpheme Om. The humming of Om is, in fact, one of the oldest and most widely practiced techniques of yoga."

The ancient yogis knew what scientists have discovered recently: matter and energy are just different manifestations of the same thing; the entire universe is moving, and nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om, the cosmic syllable; the primal sound of which the Universe is created.

Before beginning each yoga lesson we use chanting as a centering technique to let go of the concerns of daily life and attune to our inner guidance. We usually chant Om-kara (kara means sound) 3 times. It is also beautiful to chant Om 5 times at different pitches of the voice: low pitch (body), medium pitch (mind), high pitch (spirit), then medium pitch (mind) and low pitch (body) again. While chanting at the low pitch we concentrate on vibrations of our physical body. We ascend to medium pitch to realign and harmonize the more subtle bodies of our beings. As we chant the highest pitch we go to the spiritual dimension - we expand and unite our inner little selves with the Universe - the Higher Self. After expansion we come back to the room at medium pitch, and then we are merging with the physical body again while we chant at low pitch of Om-kara.

Chanting is distinctly different from singing. It is more like intoning a sound so anyone can do it. When we intone O, the throat opens up and the energy/sound rises upward from deep within the body. With the prolonged Mmm, the mouth closes and the energy goes to the head with strong humming vibration. The sound does not need to be loud or long. Experiment by creating a sound with the least possible tension in your throat, face and body. Let the sound resonate. After you finish chanting, sit quietly and observe yourself: you may feel more relaxed, calm and silent. The energy of Om ultimately reminds us of our interconnected-ness to life everywhere. You may sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.

Chanting keeps your mind focused and tends to prolong exhalation, which shifts the balance toward the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore lowers the heart rate, and calms the busy mind. A recent study from Sweden's Karolinska Institute suggests that humming sounds - like those made while chanting Om - open the sinuses and facilitate drainage. Chanting also works on a purely energetic level, by invoking in you positive vibrations, and creating some vibratory changes in your state of consciousness that unites you with the higher consciousness of the Universe. When done in a group, chanting can be a particularly powerful physical and emotional experience that creates a deep sense of inner peace.

Chanting is a very important yogic technique. However, if you are not comfortable with chanting during the lesson, it is perfectly fine - you can just breathe deeply instead.

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karen sullivan (Author) 2010-06-01 21:42:58

:) :cheer:
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