OM, AH, O: Adding Sounds to Your Yoga Practice
By: Mandy Montgomery, Yoga Instructor
I love adding sound when I teach classes or workshops. I’m not referring to adding crystal bowls or gongs…although I love that too! I’m referring to adding sound to yoga classes using your own voice. Our own personal inner vibrations can help relieve stress and tensions. Sound is an assistant to letting go.
Adding simple “AH”, “O” or “OM” sounds can increase the benefits of your practice. Sound can help you concentrate and go inward more. It can help you find the peace and harmony your soul desires. Sound can put you in the now and where you can find stillness.
Let’s think about when someone has hurt themselves, they scream or a cry out to release the pain. This is what happens when you add your voice to your practice. Releasing becomes easier.
I’m going to introduce you to adding sound to a few yoga poses so you can incorporate it in your practice. If you find it beneficial, ask your yoga teacher other ways of using sound. In Kundalini yoga, they use loud, soft, whispering even silent sounds. It’s a journey I recommend you explore.
The process is very simple, you make a simple drawn out “AH”, “O”, or “OM” sound while EXHALING. Experiment with these and decide which one you prefer. Everyone is different and connection to a sound is very personal. I have noticed I enjoy varying the sounds I use. One day I’m more connected with “AH” the next day to “OM”. The “OM” is probably the most popular and most widely known sound. The “OM” is often thought of as a mantra of true self. The Universal Sound and the source of all energy which brings mental clarity within.
Don’t be shy…just let the sound release from your body and soul! Let it release openly from your abdomen. When you exhale and start the sound vibrations bring your attention downward and inward. Just let the sound vibrations soar and feel the affects it has on your body including your energy level.
Practicing Using Sound:
In each pose, practice 3x without sound and then 3 or 4x with long, controlled “AH”, “O”, or “OM”. You can repeat this as much as you desire.
Standing Forward Bend:
Use one of the three sounds as you exhale and bend forward. Pause and feel a quiet space at the end of your exhalation. As you lower your arms after each repetition, bring the sound inward by silently thinking it.
As you exhale and bend forward vibrate the sound “AH”. Listen to the “AH” resonate as you turn first to one side and then to the other. Do you notice a difference in your breath and the sound between the two sides? Can you steadily maintain the volume of the sound to the end of this movement? If one side of your body is tighter than the other, you will notice the sound will differ going to the left compared to the right.
Inhale as you go to Cow Position and exhale as you go to Cat Position with your back arched up. Do this a few times. Then add the “Ooooo” sound to the pose as you exhale and go into the Cat Position. This is very refreshing and one of my favorite additions to this yoga pose.
Sit in a comfortable spot with your eyes closed. You may want to use a pillow or a cushion to remain comfortable. Take a few natural breaths and feel the peace of each breath. Place your hands on your abdomen or chest. Keep your arms and shoulders relaxed. You can choose whatever sound of the three we have mentioned, but for now let’s use the “OM” sound. Inhaling move your arms comfortably to your side. Exhaling use the “OM” sound as you bring your hands slowly back to your front. Stay for an easy breath just thinking the sound as you exhale. Continue this pattern of arm movement and sound for a while.
Experiment with the sound. Make it loud! See how it feels in your soul. The more your release and are open with the sound the more you will relax and feel energized. Fill your entire, mind, body and soul with sound and vibrations.
When you finish, place your hands on your chest, abdomen, or knees. Sit for a few minutes. Relax further into the feeling of the sound. Then take a deep and long inhale and exhale and open your eyes.
I hope you will explore adding sound to your yoga practice. You will find yourself loving your practices even more and be able to journey inward on a deeper level.