Aum, the mantra we chant to commence and seal our yoga practice: What is its meaning? Why do we chant it?

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The vibration of the sound aum starts in the nasal region, moves to the palate of the mouth and ends in the throat. Thus, the energy moves from the fore-brain towards the hind-brain, from the doing mind to the being mind. It helps us to drop our agendas, rest into the moment, and settle the mind.

Within this simple mantra there are a myriad of meanings.  The most applicable for me is that the syllables A, U, and M symbolize the beginning, middle, and ending of a cycle. While aum embodies the divinity within, the mantra’s individual syllables represent the Hindu deities Brahma the creator, Vishnu the maintainer, and Shiva the destroyer. It is a constant reminder that all of life’s experiences are transient. No matter how joyful, painful or concrete reality feels, it will change.  Mountains are as transient as clouds.

Sometimes we can’t wait for a phase of our lives to come to a conclusion. At other times we wish it would last forever. Aum invites us to embrace what is real in the moment, and then to gracefully let it go. The ending of any cycle is usually the most difficult phase. It takes courage and trust to release what no longer serves us.

For help with this, we only need to look to nature. This time of year the bright, golden leaves against the backdrop of crisp, blue sky epitomize living life to its fullest. Within a short time, the leaves fall to the ground to fertilize the roots. The branches are bare and the sky is gray. As the autumn storms roll in, the energy of the plants and animals is conserved in their roots and dens. It is time to go within.

In my Four Seasons Yoga practice I consider the rhythm of nature and the activities of the season as I create each asana sequence. This time of year we aim to balance the cool, dry, erratic energy of autumn with a juicy warm-up to lubricate the joints, support the fluid body, and nourish the kidneys and adrenals. It is a time to deepen our roots, so we focus on hip-openers in combination with balancing poses. We end with seated forward bends to soothe the nervous system and connect with the earth to go inward and embrace change. We flow through the practice on the current of the breath and close with a salutation to Shiva to honor death and destruction necessary for regeneration and transformation.

After over two decades of yoga practice, I have come full circle to my first teacher’s method of creating a sequence for each season. Every practice begins with meditation and three aum mantras, an opportunity to check in with one’s internal season, to be fully present with where we are in our own personal cycle and how that microcosm relates to the world around us.

Sonya Luz Costanza has developed Four Seasons Yoga through her studies and practice of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga, Iyengar therapeutic yoga, Hanna Somatics, and Ayurveda. She teaches this practice at Shree Yoga Taos on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7 PM, and at the Morada Lane Yoga Studio on Friday mornings from 8-9:30 AM. For more information visit www.sonyaluz.com

 

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