We were sitting for pranayama, the breathwork with which I always end class, and said we’d ‘finish with exhaling in a hum…extending the hum as long as possible, and focusing on your third eye’
uhm…excuse me? a hand shot up immediately
is that a disguised ‘om’?
well, no, if I wanted you to say ‘om’, I’d actually ask you to say ‘om’…but why do you ask?
well, I don’t want to do anything against my religion
I see…its against your religion to say ‘om’ then?
uh, no, I mean, I’m not sure
and so it was, when I was faced once again with the ignorance that surrounds the pratice of yoga
Yoga is NOT a religion. It does not necessarily promote Hinduism, nor does it speak ill of any belief system that sustains you. Though Muslim clerics have tried to make illegal a practice which, if you have read anything about yoga, can only help people in numerous ways, it can never actually drain you of your religion.
It does however, through chanting and meditation, deepen your own spirituality. Nowhere is it written that you cannot chant that which has meaning to you…or meditate upon that which has meaning to you. Chanting has kind of a dual pronged approach to wellness…one is the fact that your are repeating words which presumably mean something postitive to you, which is a good thing. Good causes more good. The second being that the audible repitition has sound waves…again, presumably good sound waves because we already associate those words with good things, which, even without an understanding of the words, can help to promote wellness in ourselves.
Chanting is sound. Sound is energy, and good sound is good energy. So chanting is good. You see how that works. It doesn’t matter what sound necessarily, just sounds that we think are good, and repeat worthy. Now the chants that we find in yoga classes serve the same purpose. Granted they are about 5,000 years old and don’t carry the same meaning to the masses anymore, but to purists and most Indians, they are tried and true. Why mess with it if it works? Therefore, ‘om’ it is.
But in this case, its just ‘mmmmmm.’ We do that too…and an ‘aaaaaaaaaah,’ and an ‘oooooooooooo,’ and even an ‘eeeeeeeeeeeeee.’ We have them all. Try repeating those sounds slowly and evenly exhaling. Close your eyes.
Now, if you really want some good sound energy to surround you try sitting tall, inhale as you move your head to the right, and exhale the sound ‘aah’ all the way back to center. Then inhale as you move your head to the left and ‘ooo’ your way back to center, then inhale up and ‘eee’ your way back to center, and finally inhale the chin down and ‘mmmm’ the head back to center. Try that three times slowly. Then meditate. Meditate on something nice, with meaning to YOU. As you open your eyes slowly and come back to reality, you will find your religion is intact.