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The science of AUM

Aum (ॐ) or Omkar (ओंकार) – “AUM”, is a one word mantra (chant) which is the most powerful of all mantras. The Christian equivalent is Amen. Scientists have looked into this ancient mantra and observed that when AUM is chanted in a low tone (at least) five times in a row and in a prolonged manner, that the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s ‘rest and digest’ mode) is triggered, resulting in calmness in mind and body. The cardiac function improves causing blood pressure to lower to an optimal level. Scientists have observed this using an electroencephalograph which measures the body’s Alpha rhythm (i.e. the regular electrical oscillations that occur in the human brain when you are awake and relaxed). As a result, you feel energised and you experience cheerfulness after chanting AUM.

Some scientists suggest that the AUM vibration is the same frequency as the earth itself. In 1952 a German physicist called Schumann predicted and observed that there is a predominance of standing waves in the earth’s ionosphere which resonate at 7.8 Hz. By comparison the Alpha rhythm in the human brain resonates at between 4 – 8 Hz. However, when AUM is chanted the Alpha waves tend to resonate at 7.8 Hz which means we resonate in perfect harmony with the planet earth when chanting AUM. It is therefore very interesting to note that the ancient Sages of India described AUM as the sacred sound of creation at least 6,000 years ago!

With the above in mind, AUM is chanted five times by practitioners at the outset of Prana Vashya Yoga practice. You have to keep straight (especially your spine) and stay relaxed and steady. For this reason it is good to take a minute or so to meditate in this position and clear / calm the mind before exhaling all the air in your lungs. The AUM chant then begins by taking a steady, smooth, long breath in (ensuring that your tongue is pressed far back against the roof of your mouth) and then saying “Ooo” by opening the mouth for the first third of the exhalation. Then you shut your lips slightly and the sound changes automatically to “Maa” for the remaining two-thirds of the exhalation (thus completing the AUM chant). The voice should be clear, smooth, and slightly melodious when chanting. You should also visualise the vibrations moving up the spinal column from start to finish of the AUM chant. After all the air has been expelled from the lungs and the chant ceases, you should then pause a little before drawing in another smooth, long breath in to chant the next AUM (do not hurriedly inhale or else your lungs will create a vacuum effect and you will intake less air).

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