The Amazing Science of Om Chanting

The Amazing Science of Om Chanting

It’s totally normal to feel a little confused and even slightly uncomfortable the first time you’re asked to participate in Om chanting at the beginning or at the end of a yoga class. Understanding why yogis do it and its benefits, however, will probably help you feel a little more eager to chant away with everyone else next time you’re asked to do it in a class.

Why ‘Om’?

Om (or “Aum”) is a sacred mantra and sound. Despite its Hindu roots, it’s a mantra that anyone of any religious or spiritual path can chant to align their mind, body, and spirit. Om is said to represent the sound of the universe, and for the individual who chants it, it can mean almost anything to them.

Om chanting has more benefits than you might expect. In fact, scientific studies have been conducted to observe the physical effects of the sound’s vibration and meditative effects on the body. Here are just a few on their inspiring findings.

The Benefits of Om Chanting

Improved pulmonary function. In a study that looked at the effects of Bhramari pranayama and Om chanting on pulmonary function, 82 healthy subjects practiced both pranayama and chanting for five minutes each, six days a week for a total of two weeks. Significant improvements in various pulmonary functions were observed in this group when compared to a control group.

Increased mental alertness. Older research has shown that Om chanting can enhance alertness even when you’re already relaxed, noted by a reduction in heart rate. A a group of meditators who chanted Om showed a statistically significant reduction in their heart rate compared to a control group that engaged in non-targeted thinking.

Increased environmental awareness. Studies that have shown a combination of mental alertness with physiological rest during Om chanting have also revealed increased sensitivity to sensory transmission. In other words, Om chanting and meditating helps you become more present by putting you deeply in touch with your body and your environment via sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.

Potential relief from stress and depression. The vibration that occurs while chanting Om stimulates nerves throughout the body and affect the brain. Researchers observed significant limbic deactivation during Om chanting when compared to observing parts of the brain in a resting state. Similar observations have been seen in treatments used for depression and epilepsy, suggesting that Om chanting could be used in clinical treatments for certain conditions.

Tips on How to Chant

As mentioned earlier, Om is often used/written interchangeably as Aum. Aum represents the three different sounds that are part of the chant.

A (“ahhh” or “awe”) begins at the back of the throat as it starts vibrating in the chest and lower abdomen the longer you draw out the sound. It is meant to make us aware of our sense of separateness as a self.

U (“oooh”) brings the lips together and moves the sound from the lower abdomen to the heart as the throat vibrates. This sound takes us beyond our sense of self to something greater than what our human senses can tell us.

M (“mmm”) involves pressing the lips and front teeth gently together, bringing the vibration to your head, as if it’s buzzing. This sound is meant to connect us to oneness.

Silence is the fourth and last “sound” made in an Om chant, even though it’s not really a sound at all. This ends the chant and allows us to become aware of our level of consciousness and to deeply feel what we’re feeling.

Now you know why Om chanting is so important and beneficial when your teacher does it with you in class. Consider practicing on your own, using the three different sounds (plus silence) to observe how it makes you feel and reap the benefits of it whenever you want.

Image (edited) via Spirit-Fire


10 Incredibly Healthy Fall Superfoods

10 Incredibly Healthy Fall Superfoods

With all the amazing fruits and vegetables coming in from this year’s harvest, now’s the perfect time to head over to your local farmers market or grocery store produce section for some of the season’s healthiest and freshest fall superfoods. These are some of the fruits and veggies that will keep you healthy and energized all fall and winter long!

Apples

Eating apples with their skin will give you a healthy helping of antioxidants, flavonoids and dietary fiber. According to Ayurveda — the traditional Hindu system of medicine and yoga’s sister science — cooking apples rather than eating them raw is a nice seasonal alternative way to consume them as a way to help prevent aggravating the naturally active Vata dosha this time of year.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes — a delicious root vegetable — can help you feel more grounded while packing a serious nutritional punch. A great source of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, potassium, and several other nutrients, sweet potatoes are super versatile and among the most nutritious carbohydrate foods out there.

Pomegranates

Although slightly sour, pomegranates are a yummy seasonal superfood loaded with antioxidants that can offer a nice shake-up in the variety of fruits you're used to eating. High in vitamin C, this tangy but flavorful fruit can be made into juices, marinades, or used for their seeds.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts certainly aren't everybody’s favorite vegetable, but if you bake them with a little olive oil and sea salt instead of steaming them, you may just change your mind! They’re full of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and calcium, along with sulfur compounds that have a cancer-fighting effect.

Beets

Another antioxidant-rich root vegetable (which, again, may help with feeling more grounded this time of year), beets are high in fiber, potassium, and many other vitamins and minerals. They’re also quite versatile as well. You can pickle them, make them into a juice, and eat them cooked or raw in salads and soups.

Turnips

Turnips are yet another root vegetable that are tender and mild to taste, containing phytonutrients that help fight cancer. They’re also very high in fiber and can be used in places of radishes and cabbage in some dishes.

Rutabagas

Speaking of turnips, rutabagas sort of resemble a mix between a turnip and a cabbage. They're part of the cruciferous vegetable family, meaning that they’re antioxidant-rich and have cancer-fighting properties. They’re also rich in vitamin B complex, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.

Pears

According to Ayurveda, pears are great for energy, balancing hormones, and harmonizing all three doshas. As one of the most high-fibre fruits, pears are loaded with vitamin C, K, and B vitamins. They can even be eaten cooked, which is great for the fall season and really helps to bring out their flavor.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is another vegetable belonging to the cruciferous group, meaning that it also contains sulphur compounds that help prevent cancer. Rick in vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, thiamin, magnesium, folate, potassium, and others, cauliflower is great steamed or blended into soups.

Winter Squash

Autumn is definitely squash season, and winter squash can be stored away for months thanks to their thick skin. They’re high in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B complex, calcium, and magnesium. Their slightly sweet flavor makes them perfect matches for other fall favorite flavours like cinnamon and ginger.

If you do some digging around online for recipes on Pinterest or other foodie blogs, you should be able to find some pretty amazing seasonal recipes using the superfoods listed above, Speaking of seasonal recipes, don’t forget to check out these three amazing apple smoothie recipes!


Harvest Celebration

Harvest Celebration

“The law of harvest is to reap more than you sow. Sow an act, and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” — James Allen

From the bare farmers’ fields, to the colorful grocery store produce sections, to the stocked kitchens in our homes, every small hint of abundance brought to us by the autumn harvest gives us reason to celebrate. This is the time of year when we become aware of how much has changed and how plentiful our lives truly are.

Despite autumn’s transformative nature, many of us get carried away in the fast-paced, busy activities of our modern day lives — going straight from a busy and fun-filled summer to a busy and work-filled autumn. Instead, let us take this time to notice how we've grown (and how we continue tog grow) so we can feel more complete as we honor our achievements.

Take Stock of Your Personal Harvest

We never stop growing, of course, but the last of the harvest that's gathered before the frost sets in marks the end of the 365-day journey the Earth takes every year, bringing the growth cycle back to the decay and dormancy stage once again in preparation for rebirth. This is why autumn often feels more transformative than January 1st does for some people.

Instead of constantly rushing from one task to the next, consider taking some time at least once in your day this month to sit down alone and in silence so you can reflect back on your day and even the past year to journal about what you've learned and how you've grown. Here are a few general suggestions to start with:

  • Valuable lessons learned from taking risks or making mistakes
  • Achievements from challenging yourself at work or at school
  • New friends and acquaintances that came into your life, or existing relationships that really blossomed
  • Hobbies or activities that you engaged in and improved on every time you did it
  • New places you visited in your local area or internationally that expanded your awareness of the world and the people who live there
  • Anything new you discovered about yourself — your thought patterns, your emotions, your behavior, your strengths, your weaknesses, or your heart’s desires

Don’t be afraid to journal about things you let go of over the past year. After all, we can’t be in alignment with abundance without letting go of what isn’t serving us.

Cultivate a Sense of Completion

Journaling about periods of recognized growth from the past year may be especially important, mainly because it brings about a sense of completion for those things that we may not have spent enough time recognizing and appreciating immediately after they took place. Now is the time to do this.

Let this inspire us to cultivate completion for things we do in the present as well. We often get so wrapped up in our responsibilities and ambitious goals this time of year that the end of every task only marks the beginning of another, with no space left in between for real completion.

Stop and take moment to really become aware of what you just completed and allow that sense of satisfaction to sink in — even if it’s something as simple as ending your workday and going home, or finishing a super quick 20-minute yoga practice, or cooking up a nice pot of hot soup. You deserve to be able to say, “hey, I did this!” and acknowledge that you just did something pretty awesome.

Celebrate Your Abundance

When the harvest is in, we all tend to gather with friends and family to eat and celebrate all that we have while being together. Of course, in our society, the upcoming holiday season is all about this, but there’s no need to wait around for that big Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to celebrate how much we've grown and how much we have.

We can all celebrate something we’re proud of achieving in little ways. Since autumn is a time to wind down and go inward, turning toward some simple self care practices is a great way to celebrate our achievements and reward ourselves. Examples might include going for a massage, drawing a soothing bath with epsom salts, scheduling a whole Saturday to read a favorite book with a glass of wine in hand, or going out and do something fun with a friend or partner.

However you choose to celebrate the ways in which you’ve grown this October, let it be as fitting as you feel it needs to be. Now is the time to embrace it all in preparation for new beginnings.

Image (edited) via Jon Bunting


Win a 7 Day, 6 Night Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

Known for its lush rainforests, impressive volcanoes, and beautiful beaches, Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. Travelers who aren’t afraid of a little rain get to venture out into the country’s unique natural landscapes where rare wildlife and bird species live peacefully among the calm, misty forests.

For October’s retreat of the month, Yogi Surprise members will get the chance to win an amazing week-long stay at El Sabanero Eco Lodge located on the North Pacific side of Costa Rica in Cañafistula Valley, where four of the region’s best beaches can be found. You won’t want to miss out on this incredible chance to relax in the tranquil peace of the lodge and explore the rich landscape that will surely leave you feeling inspired and re-energized!

Spend 6 Nights At This Yoga Retreat In the Cañafistula Valley

Win a 7 Day, 6 Night Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

El Sabanero Eco Lodge blends right into the natural landscape of a hillside that overlooks the Cañafistula Valley, featuring breathtaking views from all of its chalets. Surrounding the lodge are four of the most popular and most beautiful beaches, including Playa Avellanas, Playa Negra, Playa Junquillal and Tamarindo.

Each chalet has been exquisitely designed to with a natural setting in mind, built out of local teak trees and surrounded by tropical gardens with enough separation between each unit for extra added privacy. Step out onto your private porch to breathe in the fresh, tropical air and marvel at the natural beauty of the views from the hillside.

Win a 7 Day, 6 Night Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

For this month’s incredible retreat package, you can expect all of the following to be included:

  • 3 daily meals including fresh and locally sourced cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are also available)
  • Daily yoga sessions in a peaceful yoga shala
  • Yoga equipment including mats, blocks, bolsters, and towels
  • Access to multiple nearby beaches (not within walking distance but a short drive away)
  • Access to the pool
  • Access to wireless internet
  • Ensuite bathrooms
  • Air conditioning
  • Optional extra activities at additional costs including zip lining, horseback riding, snorkeling, sunset cruises, surfing, rafting, and more
  • Transportation from the airport to the lodge

Win a 7 Day, 6 Night Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

Whether you consider yourself to be an explorer looking for a serious adventure or someone who simply prefers to bask in the tranquil atmosphere of nature, this retreat is perfect for all types of yogis. It's one yoga retreat you definitely won’t forget.

So if you’re dreaming about exploring the tropical jungles and sparkling sandy beaches of Costa Rica, click the link below to learn how you can enter to win this fantastic retreat!

Learn How to Win This Retreat >

Win a 7 Day, 6 Night Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica