Should You Chant OM in Yoga Class?
Posted: Jan 19, 2019
Entering a yoga class for the first time can be intimidating. People get hot in strange postures, noisy breaths, strange smells... all this may seem overwhelming to someone who is not familiar with yoga.
As a new yoga student, I had many doubts about many things, like breathing loud enough for the person next to me to listen to me, try new and difficult postures and even talk to someone in the class. But the only thing I said to myself that I would never, never would, was OM chanting.
I thought the singing was so embarrassing, uncomfortable and just plain weird. The irony is that this part of the class is now my absolute favorite. It took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to join, but once I did, I was hooked.
I get many questions from new students about How to chant OM in yoga, and I also know that many new teachers find it difficult to incorporate this tradition into their teaching. So the question is, to OM or not to OM? I will share with you my thoughts on how students and teachers can make the call.
So what is this OM-ing all about?
It is said that the sound OM (pronounced with three syllables A-u-m) encompasses the vibration energy of the entire universe. It is a sound that unites us with everything and everyone. It is a mantra used to sing in meditation when one feels in search of enlightenment.
As I see it, singing OM in a yoga class, in a room full of people, takes you out of your own body and space and makes you feel deeply connected with those around you.
The Case for OM-ing
While I felt very, very uncomfortable the first time I let out a humble " OM chanting", I began to find a lot of confidence in myself while allowing my voice to strengthen. There is an ego breakdown that occurs when you do something outside of your comfort zone. Making a strange sound in a room full of strangers is one of those things.
When I started to distract myself from my attention and try to unite my voice with the people around me, I felt something big. I felt that I was not so different from everyone else there. I was not comparing my yoga pants with theirs, nor thinking about how they had more toned bellies. I felt totally the same, and frankly powerful.
I am a person who still has difficulties to feel present in a whole yoga class. Sometimes, breathing alone is a challenge for me because my mind wanders into a million other things.
However, I have realized that singing has this capacity so that you are completely rooted in your body and in your mind. It is really hard to think of something else when you are concentrating on creating this deep and complete sound. This is something that most people do not experience in their daily life and it is something really special for you or your yoga students.
It seems a little crazy to say that a sound creates energy, but when I'm doing How to chant OM in yoga, it's very powerful to feel the vibration that comes out of my belly and the way it synchronizes with the people around me. There is always a palpable change in the room that occurs when completing the OM. I love to sit in the silence that follows the sound and feel this sense of unity and satisfaction.
The case of silence
With anything in life, I do not think you can force people to try things or feel things they are not ready for. If you feel that this song is not you, it's fine! Until you feel ready, just sit down and listen to the students and the teacher in your class. Try to enjoy the sound you are making without the need to participate, or judge yourself or others.
For teachers, if you do not have a sense of connection to OM practice, there is no point in trying to take it to your students. Your fear, self-consciousness or lack of authenticity will appear if you try to force it, which totally defeats the purpose. The key is to be true to yourself and do what you feel comfortable with.
Alternatives to OM
There are many ways in which you can create a sense of unity in your yoga class without singing or making new students feel uncomfortable. My favorite way is to take three breaths together to finish the practice.
I ask my students to find a comfortable seat after Savasana and bring their hands to their hearts. From there, we all take three deep inhalations and exhale audibly together. With that, you get a sense of connection with everyone in the room, a sense of calm, as well as presence in the body and mind, but in a way that is more accessible to all.
I think this is an excellent place to start, both for teachers and for students who are not ready to share their voice in OM.
As with any part of the physical practice of yoga, the idea is to really connect with oneself. I always remind my students that they know their bodies better than me and it is their job to honor and respect him. The same applies to the level of comfort of each person when joining How to chant OM in yoga.Like my experience with postures that I was once too intimidated to try, it's our mind that tells us we cannot do something, and that idea is not always true. When I got out of my head and tried OM, it was not as bad as I expected. In fact, it was downright incredible. When you're ready, try it and, until then, do what feels good!
Narendra Modi is India's 15th prime minister, who has been in office since May 26, 2014. Mr modi was the prime minister of Gujarat three times between 2001 and 2014.