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Weekly Yoga Rant – Om Is Not A Competition

Yoga | Yoga for Beginners

Have you ever risen out of savasana, taken a full, deep inhale, and exhaled out a steady, even Om, creating a perfect vibration with your teacher and classmates, only to be drowned out by some jerk whose disturbingly loud Om continues long after everyone else in the room has said their namastes?

From my teacher's-eye view, I can open my eyes and see the smug smile on that student's face. We could ride the wave of self-satisfaction all the way to the ocean.

Congratulations, You Won The Om!

According to the sutras, Om is A-U-M, a three-part sound that signifies the divine. The beginning, middle, and end fuse together to make the universal sound. I often tell my students our Om is meant to represent all the breath that's being shared all over the planet. A powerful Om is a way to connect to the people in the room and with all the life in the world. If your Om overpowers the people around you, that's not really a connection so much as a bulldozing.

I have to be honest; in part, I am annoyed as a result of my own ego. I am the teacher. I am here to lead the class. What makes this student believe it is okay to drown me out? What do they think they are proving with the world's loudest Om?

Frustrated By Turbo-Oms

My ego is not the only reason I am frustrated by turbo-Oms. It's the total lack of interest in community and blissful unawareness of fellow students. One of yoga's most beautiful elements is its blending of the individual and communal.

Your practice (and your Om), is completely yours, yet it wouldn't be what it is without the kula. In the spirit of community-building, it's valuable for us to meet our fellow yogis where they are. Sometimes beginners are shy about Oms. In those classes I keep the Om quiet and short. Some classes are packed with steady, confident yoga practitioners, and the vibration rings deeper and stronger.

I'd never tell a student that their Om is wrong. If your vibration is high-volume, go with it. But If you find yourself preparing to roar like an '87 Hyundai with a broken muffler, take a moment to observe your intentions. Are you trying to impress someone? Are you taking a moment to check in with the people around you? Can you take it down a notch (or ten) and be more fully a part of your kula? Having your Om supported and amplified by the voices around you is a really wonderful feeling. Instead of blowing us away with your power, try joining us. You'll learn the Oms we make together are much better than the ones we make alone.

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