I think; therefore I OM … Calmer

Who think chanting ‘om’ is a load of bollocks?

A fellow yogi bought a newspaper cutting to our yoga class which outlined the benefits of chanting this magically noise.

I’ve been going to my yoga class regularly since 2014.  The first time we were told to chant, I must admit, I felt a bit nervous.  
It seems silly in a world where we talk a lot and voice our opinions so much, that using our voice in a simple, natural and beautiful way could be scary.

Here’s the newspaper article:

Jonathan Leake
Science Editor for The Sunday Times

Yoga lovers and mystics have known it for centuries but scientists have now confirmed that chanting “Om” really does soothe the brain.

The finding emerged from a study in which 21 men listened to the mantra while lying in a scanner that monitors brain activity.

Researchers found that, as the chanting progressed, the parts of the brain used in day-to-day activity slowed while those involved in emotional awareness took over.

“Listening to the ‘Om’ sounds… activates areas of the bilateral cerebellum, left middle frontal gyrus and right precuneus” said Uttam Kumar of the Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical sciences in Lucknow, India. The research was published in the journal Cognition and Emotion.

“Listening to ‘Om’ recruits neural systems implicated in emotional empathy,” Kummar said.

To make sure “Om” was the key sounds, the researchers also played recordings of people chanting “Tommmm” – and found this did nothing to relax the 21 men.

Om is regarded as a divine word by Hindus and Buddhists, who believe it can open the mind. Ideally the subjects should have chanted it themselves but the vibration made it hard to scan their brains.

Kummar said the next step was to repeat the research with people from other cultures to see if the sound is “universal and independent of culture or belief”.

The benefits I feel from chanting are:

  • Completely clearing and soothing my mind
  • Concentrating on my breath
  • It’s very hypnotic. After 5 rounds, I feel light headed and can sometimes feel like I’m floating.
  • My voice feels clearer after and communication is easier. I believe this is because the chanting vibrates the vocal cords, strengthening them and clearing congestion.
  • When chanting in a large group, the vibrations of everyone’s voices is very powerful and feels healing. I especially love when men are in the class because the deep tone and volume of their voices has a really positive effect on me.

I would like to chant more often and am still working on being confident enough to do it when in the company of others.

Give it a try and see how it makes you feel.