OM: Unision of Mind & Breath
Many of my Yoga Mama’s are new to the practice of Yoga. Because of this, I feel it’s necessary to touch on the eternal sound of OM. In both my own personal practice and when I teach families, I find that this mantra resonates well as both an auditory and vibrational cue. Beyond this, it is integral component to beginning and ending our time on the mat. It brings about a sense of peace stimulated by an inner-connectedness that extends from our hearts and into the hearts of those we share our practice with.
When we breathe, we all breathe the same air. The same air that brings life into our lungs, brings life into the lungs of each and every living being. And when we think, we all use our minds. Minds formulating thoughts that in some way will deeply effect those around us. We are connected, there is no way around it. Yoga is a practice that expands beyond body, to mind and breath. In our Hatha practice, though the focus may seem to be on asanas (poses), we cannot expand safely into our full bodies without some control over mind and breath.
At the beginning of our practice together, I will often start with Flower or Bee Breathing. Sit bones firmly rooted into the earth, spine elongated, neck straight yet without tension. As an individual or in our shared practice, we smell our flowers. The act of smelling through our nose is the same way that we breathe in Yoga. It is a soothing and centering exercise, focusing on giving room to our lungs with loose bellies upon each inhale. When we move on to our core practice, we begin with the universal sound of OM (AUM Mantra). The flow of OM brings us to the present moment. Inhaling with bellies big, we exhale navel to spine with the sound of OM. With our little beings, our OM may change to an observant “HUM” (staying with the flower/bee-based theme). We can then discuss where we feel the vibrational qualities in our bodies and, with older beings, how it may extend to our minds.
At the end of our practice, we thank our body and mind for allowing us to partake in Yogic beauty and bliss. We repeat the AUM Mantra, reminding ourselves that this is not only a shared practice, but a shared lifetime. Our mind and our breath are interconnected, not just as they are within us, but as they alter the course of the beings we love.
Tip: Practice at home with your little beings. Often, the AUM Mantra has the same effect as a mother lions roar. It catches your little beings attention and makes a point. It says, “This is not my practice or your practice, it is OUR practice. We share this life, this breath, this world.” Use the AUM Mantra at the beginning or end of your practice. When sharing your practice with your (willing) infant or toddler, you can take them into your arms and lay their head under your neck or upon your chest as you practice. There is a certain comfort to this pose, reminding us of how connected we are, and will always be.
Reflection: What thoughts do I have before and after this mantra? Does OM change my outlook? Does it have an effect on the beings I am present with?