What role does sound have in our yoga practice? Consider its power: sound waves can trigger massive avalanches, literally moving mountains. Sound is used in medical as well as military applications. It has the power to heal or harm. Think of the joyful act of singing vs. the annoyance stirred by an incessant car alarm. With a slow decay rate, sound waves linger well beyond the point we cease to hear them yet we can continue to feel reverberations within and notice how it affects us.
We routinely bring sound into our yoga practice when we cultivate Ujjayi breath, the slight constriction at the glottis that keeps the air audible. We hear its pace, rhythm, the silence as breath changes direction. As the intensity of our practice changes, we note the impact on the breath. Deploying conscious control over the breath enables us to develop and harness its power, helped by the ability to hear it.
Sound also features in yoga with mantra (repetition of word(s) or sound(s)). It helps us to draw awareness inward and supports a calm mind state as our exhale becomes extended. This week we explore the Aum (Om) vibrational landscape, aware of all three parts of the sound- ah, oo, mm. We allow time for each of these sounds as the lungs empty, cultivating better breath capacity and control. Through repetition, we begin to unshackle our voice. The soundscape vibrates within and around us and we become absorbed in its power.
Ruth teaches yoga in Cheltenham UK, weaving yoga philosophy into the asana practice to help students connect yoga on the mat to their lives off the mat.