What’s it Aum about?

Adrienne Shum, prairie love festival, kirtan, bhakti yoga, Aum, OM, Yoga, Prairie Yogi,
Words by Adrienne Shum // Photos by David Quiring
If you go to enough yoga classes, sooner or later you will probably be asked by the teacher to chant, “Aum” (also known as Om).  If my own experience is relatable to others, you will be obedient enough to go along with it, but quietly wonder what it means and what the point of it all is.

The practice of yoga is a study of dichotomy: the word “yoga” is often translated from Sanskrit to “union,” or the bringing together of two parts.  We tend to begin our yoga journey with a physical practice of asanas (postures) and breath work; with those tangible aspects we uncover and connect to deeper layers of ourselves: the fluctuations of our minds, and the roller-coaster of our emotions.  We may discover that those thoughts and emotions cause us grief.  Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough” or emotions like jealousy and fear limit us and cloud our internal vision.  Expectations we have on ourselves or situations may be unfulfilled, leaving us feeling empty and disappointed.  Through the practice of yoga, we recognize our patterns and learn to accept ourselves as we are, and to accept others as they are as well.  As we unite body, breath and mind, we learn to make peace with ourselves and others.

Amidst all the downward dogs and forward folds, there might be some chanting of “Aum.”  This is a glimpse into one of many possible paths that ultimately lead us to a place of deeper surrender and compassion.  When we chant Aum, we are able to clean the body, mind and spirit, thereby reawakening our connection to the most truthful, innermost part of ourselves.  The vibration of the sacred syllable Aum shakes off the dust covering our hearts and minds so that we can love with more clarity, honesty and fearlessness.  Aum is made up three syllables: “A” symbolizes speech, “U” symbolizes mind, and “M” symbolizes breath of life.  All together, Aum is the symbol of serenity, divinity and universality.  

The practice of Kirtan is an aspect of the yoga practice that is focused on spiritual and emotional healing.  Through the call-and-response chanting of Aum and other mantras, we devote ourselves to uncovering Isvara, or pure awareness - that place inside that is unconditioned, unbound, and unlimited.  

As wonderful as it is to feel strong and flexible in our bodies, let us also feel strong and flexible in our hearts and minds.  Let us have the dedication to move towards greater compassion and deeper connection to others.  Let us take care of ourselves in body, mind and spirit, and may we inspire others to do the same.  

Adrienne Shum, prairie love festival, kirtan, bhakti yoga, Aum, OM, Yoga, Prairie Yogi,
Practise Kirtan with Adrienne at Prairie Love Festival on Sunday, September 13th (18:00-19:30)!  To listen to Adrienne’s live Kirtan album, please visit: www.adrienneshum.bandcamp.com.  To find out more about Adrienne, visit: www.adrienneshum.com.  For further reading on Aum and yoga, consider BKS Iyengar’s Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.


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