I've noticed that many students choose not to chant the three 'OM's with me at the beginning of a session and that is totally up to them, no issue with it, but! I believe that people may be more inclined to do so if they knew a little more about it and I feel it's my duty to share that as a Yoga Teacher.
I really would suggest you forget your 'ego' or feeling 'weird' and just try it. If nothing else and you don't believe in the spiritual energies, it's paying respect to the practice.
So why do we 'OM'?
To clarify, it would be much more accurate to write it as AUM.
A - Represents physical strength - Vibration are in the stomach
U - Represents Emotional strength -Vibration are in the Throat
M- Represents Mental strength. -Vibration are in the Mind / brain / crown of head.
I would also suggest maybe placing a hand on the chest and abdomen to feel where the vibrations reverberate.
We AUM for many reasons, least not to be signalling the start of the practice.
Yogic studies suggests that we have Chakras ('Wheel' of energies, the main 7 are located up the spine - there are 114 altogether around the body)
The chant's or Mantra's serve to create vibrations which sound at frequencies to create energy and open them up. Mantra's are used to aid us in meditation, they help with concentration and is part of Sanskrit - 'Mana' and 'Tra' which means 'mind' and 'tool'. They have powerful religious symbolism in Hindu and are thought to hold power. These Mantras can be said repeatedly, whispered or even just thought.
So - the AUM chant is a universal Mantra which works on all the Chakras.
However, each Chakra has energy for different aspects of your life, so for example, you might hear people saying their communication is off, and that's where you are to zoom in a little more on individual Chakras.
But what are Chakras?
So Chakras are 'wheels of energy'. If you ever hear 'Kundalini' - this translates to 'coiled energy' and it's believed to be start from the base of the spine up to the crown of your head. These Chakras, are based along this line. Let's have a look ...
Starting from the bottom up.
These Mantra's are called Bija - which is Sanskirt for 'seed' and they serve to remove other thoughts which may cloud our minds and plant the seed of the idea we would like to concentrate on. Chanting this way is thought to bring us into a meditative state connecting to our bodies in a physiological way as well as directing our mind's energy to the present removing wandering thoughts.
Muladhara - Root Chakra - Colour : RED Chant is 'LAM' Element is Earth
This Chakra is located in the Perineum. It's responsible for stability, connection, grounding, acceptance, security, confidence. This is the base chakra, the origin point of energy and unless and until you have this open you will not be able to access or open the others up.
Svadhishthana - Sacral Chakra - colour :Orange Chant is 'VAM' - Element is Water
This Chakra is located about 2-3 inches under navel. It is responsible for reproductive organs, excretory system, imagination, creativity, spirituality, flexibility in life so adapting to changes, control of sexual urges and connection.
Manipura - Solar Plexus Chakra (Gem City) - Colour : Yellow - Chant - 'RAM' - element is Fire.
This Chakra is located at the Pancreas / Solar Plexus. It's responsible for digestion, observation, transformation of energy / absorption of nutrients,
Anahatasana - Heart Chakra - Colour: Green - Chant YAM - Element is Air
This Chakra is located at the middle of the sternum. It's responsible for unsticking a flow of bliss, compassionate love, Lung and heart functions, circulation of blood and energy, emotions and feelings.
It is said that is you are able to open the Chakras up to here and your Kundalini reaches up to here, it will not go back down.
Vishuddha - Throat Chakra - colour: Blue - Chant HAM - Element is Space.
This Chakra is located at the base of your throat (between your collarbones). It is responsible for self expression, introspection, communication and confidence and it is associated with your thyroid glands.
Ajna - Third Eye Chakra - Colour: Indigo - Chant: AUM
This Chakra is located between your eyebrows (3rd Eye). It is responsible for clear vision - concentration, alertness. It is also associated with wisdom, knowledge, intelligence, intuition, creativity and imagination.
Sahasrara or Brahma-chakra - Crown centre - Colour: Violet or White - Chant :AUM.
This Chakra is translated as 'Thousand petals' which is why the symbol is of a flower. It is located at the crown of the head and is responsible for pure consciousness connecting with the universe. AKA - Samadhi.
There are plenty of beautiful Sanskirt Chants and mantra GAYATRI MANTRA is my personal favourite and i find myself chanting it as I go about my day's business sometimes.
So I hope that has given you some insight into Chants and the significance it has towards yoga practice and I hope that you will give chanting a go next time you are in class!
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