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Posts Tagged ‘Meaning of Om’

Om is more than a word – it is an intonation, like music or vibration.  It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, essentially “A” – “U” – “M”.  It is often said that the sound of Om contains in it all other sounds. In the Upanishads Om is considered to be an all-encompassing mystical entity- the voice of God, or as I like to think of it, the sound of the universe. As sacred texts declare, the vibration of Om is supposed to penetrate one’s soul, transcend the past, present and future, and reveal the truth.

So the question remains: om or no om?

Having been a past practitioner at Jivamukti where they chant, A LOT, in their classes I have built up a tolerance to chanting in general.  I enjoy it- but on occasion and in the right place at the right time.  In fact, I have to admit I’m not one who enjoys chanting when I show up to a yoga class expecting to jump right into the physical aspect.

I do however, ALWAYS enjoy chanting om at the beginning and end of the class.  My favorite is actually chanting om in rounds.  Not exactly, Row Row Your Boat style but more or less just following the rise and fall of your own breath rather than the instructor/leader of the chant.  I like to imagine that there must be times when all the yogis around Manhattan (i.e. Union Square) are chanting om at once given that there are so many studios with similar class schedules.  You would think there must be a few hundred people chanting om come 7:30 on the weekdays across Manhattan.  Pretty cool, huh?

What I find odd, and actually awkward is some classes choose to chant om at the start of class and not at the end (Dana Strong does this at YogaWorks).  There’s something about closing with om that makes you feel full or satisfied.  Maybe it’s just me.  But as my teaching philosophy has developed I believe whole heartedly in om, and less so in chanting before class.  Truth is, I’m there to practice like everyone else and chanting (while nice) is sometimes hard to fit into the hour and a half you’re on the mat.  Oh and what’s up with instructors who pick obscure chants that no one can repeat – that’s just uncomfortable for everyone!

-Eliza

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