• Barbara Newman

OM… Now more than ever

OM is a sound you may have said in unison at the start and/or end of a yoga class. You may have heard it described as the mystical sound, the sacred syllable, the essential sound of the universe, the unity of oneness, the sacred sound of the universe. Whatever your understanding of OM, it is a sound that brings us back to the Self, to stillness. It gives us a moment to look inward and connect to higher levels of consciousness. OM guides us to open and clear the mind for meditation.

What is OM? OM is composed of four sounds, A pronounced /aw/, U pronounced /00/, M pronounced /m/, and the anusvara which is the prolonged nasal vibration at the end of the /m/ sound, with the lips pressed together. A is the state of being awake and experiencing things through the mind and senses. It is creation and creative possibilities. U is the dream state, a time in which inner experiences are present. There is preservation of balance, a movement into a deeper source of balance in one’s life, a time to let go of mental obstacles standing in the way. M is the state of deep sleep. It is completion of the cycle of existence. Turya, the fourth, is the nasal humming at the end of the /m/ sound, and is represented as the Self beyond the mind. OM, the oldest of all the mantras, is all that ever was, is and will be.

As you take a deep breath and then repeat OM, your body relaxes, brings you inward, and allows you to connect to higher levels of consciousness. When you chant OM three times, a calmness takes over and you are ready to practice yoga. When OM is chanted at the end of class, it signifies closure, guiding you to bring the energy you created during your practice with you.

Now more than ever, we need to use breath and movement to calm our mind and strengthen our body. Yoga is an ancient practice that is at long last being recognized for its many benefits as follows:

Improves quality of life

Improves breath quality and capacity

Enhances sleep and rest

Encourages healthy eating

Increases physical strength

Improves heart health

Decreases depression and anxiety

Reduces inflammation

Decreases pain

As we begin this new journey of social distancing, chanting OM is a way to bring you into the practice of yoga and meditation. Whether you do yoga or meditation for a few minutes or an hour, OM is a good way to bring yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically into your practice. It calms the vrittis, the noise or waves of disturbance, of the mind. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find at the end of your practice.

Barbara Newman

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