I’m taking about the OM or A-U-M, that is usually chanted in the beginning and end of a yoga class. I just couldn’t resist it. The original title was “AUM – An Invitation to Reconnect to your Heart”. The latter probably will garner more SEO hits but the Flashdance tune is already stuck in my head.
I first wrote about OM-ing, way back in 2017, when I taught at a studio that doesn’t allow any form of chanting in class.
And the topic of OM came up again in my sutra studies group call recently. What stood out for me was the translation that the repetition of AUM when repeated constantly with feeling, realises its full significance (yoga sutra 1.28).
Who’d ever thought of saying AUM with feeling? Patanjali obviously, did hundreds of years ago.
Like what Irene Cara sings in the first 2 lines – First when there’s nothing, But a slow glowing dream. Is it possible to OM with feelings? So I tried. Welcome to my inner dialogue on “How to AUM with Feeling” 🙂
I started by sounding the syllable Ahhh….
And I feel it at the back of my throat;
Then Ohhhh…… which creates an energetic full sensation swirling around my mouth,
And the Mmmmm…….which ends at my lips
And that’s not really the end – there is the magical everafter – the silence, the vibrations ….
I repeated it 2 more times.
Then I paused.
I hear for the sound of my breath.
And I started to feel at peace, grounded and complete.
And that feeling sits comfortably within my heart
A feeling of hope and connection to myself and to others
Which tends to get lost in times of struggle and especially with what’s happening in the world today
The funny thing was that it does sound bit out there. When I was on the call, and I listened to other people’s experience, I was doubtful but hey don’t knock it off, until you’ve tried it.
So try it!
Do it without judgement and listen and notice with curiosity, what feelings come up.
Yoga is not a religion
I do understand why some people don’t OM and the studios that enforce this “rule of no OM-ing in class” – they just want to make yoga accessible and inclusive.
The studio where I practised in – the teachers don’t AUM. At first I was surprised. Then I got used to it – but I still feel there’s something missing in class.
I’ve nothing against teachers or studios that don’t have an OM practice but I do wonder why they don’t give the choice to the students? Invite them to Om or not to OM, rather than depriving them of the possibility of what yoga can be for them.
That being said you don’t have to OM to get the benefits of yoga. I’m born a Muslim and I do understand the conflict with Om-ing and even when I first started yoga. However I know that my intention when I Om is not to worship but to find peace and to quieten the voices in my head.
Someone on the call – said something about what’s possible if she brings the same feeling of groundedness when she prays, because most times, she’s not grounded. And so what’s possible if she prays with feeling?
Hmm…….you tell me.
how you do anything is how you do everything
As Zen Buddhist saying goes “how you do anything is how you do everything.”
Yes I have been chanting AUM without feeling anything. I have been praying without feeling anything. And what came up for me is that I’ve also been in the doing, mindlessly – without feelings, without being present, without intention.
You know how it is – you do the thing, because you need to do it. You tick everything off your to-do list.
But how do you feel? Be honest.
If I’m honest to myself, that’s not how I want to live my life.
Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling resistant to AUM when I teach, because there’s no heart in there.
Maybe that’s why I’m just drifting along in my self-made happy bubble, at peace, but am I really happy?
Maybe when I’m stuck, is OM-ing the solution?
haha I don’t know. Maybe?
What I know I’m going to do is sit in inquiry about the THINGS that I’ve been doing, should be doing, need to be doing. Does it serve my heart? Does it serve the people I love? What can I let go? What’s possible if I do DA THING but with FEELINGS?
Reconnect with your heart
Truthfully I don’t really need to chant AUM to get connected to my heart and to ME. I’ve a nighttime ritual of placing one hand on my heart and breathe a couple of breaths. When I get anxious, that calms me down.
And sometimes I forget.
And I’m reminded of the connection when I do yoga, and AUM is part of my practice.
You and I, we can choose not to AUM and we can if we want to.
And when you do…
I invite you to AUM with FEELINGS
When you sound each syllable A-U-M, pause intentionally after and feel what you feel.
Let it remind you that all’s not lost, that there is still hope
If you don’t feel anything, it’s fine.
But imagine this – that there’s possibly another human chanting AUM on the side of the world; another human , breathing with you
Take it as an opportunity to begin again; to Reconnect deeper to your Heart, To Others and to your Inner Self.