Omkar Pranayama is a conscious breathing exercise with seemingly countless benefits for the body and mind!
In Sanskrit, Omkar refers to the sacred sound of OM or AUM. According to the ancient Yogic texts, AUM is the sacred sound of creation. There is so much evidence to show the many benefits of chanting AUM - if Omkar Pranayama is not a part of your daily routine, it should be!
- When you make a toning sound for an extended length of time, you are extending your exhale. Exhaling for longer than you inhale reduces stress and helps you to relax by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Extending a tone stimulates the cerebral cortex, which calms the hypothalamus and even our pain receptors. This explains why it helps to shout or scream when you get hurt!
- The extended exhale combined with the vibration of the sound you’re making, activates your parasympathetic nervous system and stimulates your vagus nerve. This helps to reduce inflammation, stress, and anxiety in your body.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has even approved a technique called Vagus Nerve Stimulation, which stimulates the vagus nerve using electrical impulses. It is being used successfully in reducing epileptic seizures, reducing depression, and reducing chronic pain. The Yogis were definitely on to something! And the Yogis are not the only people who chant single tones like AUM. Tibetan monks, tuvan throat singers of Mongolia, and various other tribal cultures sing in single tones too.
Did you know that AUM can be considered 3 separate syllables? Each of these tones creates a vibration in a different area of the body, which becomes deeply meditative when repeated:
Aaaa = Stomach/Abdomen
Uuuu = Heart/Chest/Throat
Mmmm = Brain/Pineal/Pituitary Gland
This toning sequence can stimulate the endocrine glands and energy centres of these areas of your body, restoring and revitalising the cells and organs. This is important for optimal health and well-being.
The highest tone of “Mmmm” stimulates your cortical functions and the pineal and pituitary glands.
Benefits of AUM
Omkar Pranayama has so many benefits for the body and mind! Take a look at the evidence below:
- Reduces blood pressure in cases of mild hypertension (Goyal et al., 2014).
- Increased melatonin production (Harinath et al., 2004).
- Increased heart and lung health (Harinath et al., 2004; Mooventhan & Khode, 2014).
- Reduces stress (Gurjar et al., 2009; Das & Anand, 2012; Bhatt & Gupta, 2013).
- Helps clear the mind and create a meditative state (Telles et al., 1995; Gurjar & Ladhake, 2008; Gurjar et al., 2009).
- Encourages weight loss and a healthy body mass index (Mooventhan & Khode, 2014).
- Improves asthma symptoms (Saxena & Saxena, 2009).
- Lowers heart rate (Telles et al., 1995; Gurjar et al., 2009).
- Balances the nervous system and creates internal harmony at a cellular level (like heart coherence) (Gurjar et al., 2009).
- May be an effective preventative measure to avoid diabetes (Bhagat & Singh, 2017).
Omkar Pranayama Meditation
With this Omkar Pranayama Meditation, you will flow naturally into the alpha state and your third eye chakra will begin to be activated. This is where your pineal gland is located.
In many ancient cultures the pineal gland is considered to be “the seat of the soul”, and this AUM meditation can be used to enhance the activity of the pineal gland. This allows you to connect with the divine and the universal consciousness.
Deep meditation in this state enables you to receive divine inspiration, heightened creativity and divine knowledge as well as receiving multiple health benefits.
- As we begin this exercise make sure that you will not be disturbed.
- Relax all the tension from the top of your head to the end of your toes.
- Sit yourself in a position so that your back is allowed to remain upright, but not uncomfortably so.
- Place your hands face up, arms unfolded, in your lap.
- Slowly take a deep breath now, as you relax the tension around your eyebrows, relax the tension around your throat, your shoulders, torso, back, and chest.
- Now take a slow deep breath, and as you exhale, release all the tension in your body.
- Bring your awareness from any past or future point, and reflect that all is now. All is folded into one eternal now moment.
- Close your eyes, and again release all the tension in your body with one big exhalation.
- Now take a deep diaphragmatic breath, making sure your abdomen rises as you breath, for a count of 4 seconds.
- On your out breath chant the sacred sound of AUM for a count of 12 seconds, focussing 4 seconds at a time on each syllable. The sound should be totally smooth, with no breaks, stops, or stutters.
- Bring your awareness to each area of your body associated with the syllable you’re sounding.
- Repeat the pattern continuously for 5-10 minutes. Observe how you feel more relaxed and calm at the end of it.
- For the next 7-10 minutes after the AUM meditation, visualise yourself healthy, happy, and vibrant. Clearly picture yourself in full health, free to do all of the things you truly want to do. Imagine the scene in great detail.
- Engage all of your senses and consider even the smallest details.
- What would you be wearing? What can you smell? What would you be doing? Who would you be doing it with? What emotions are you feeling? Who are you with?
You may use this Omkar Pranayama meditation at any time to help you reduce stress and anxiety, and to reap the long-term benefits of AUM chanting. The visualisation aspect helps magnify the healing effects when carried out after the meditation.
Once you start practising Omkar Pranayama regularly, you might find yourself addicted to it!