Aom is the sacred symbol of divinity. It is thought to symbolize primordial vibration and energy, from which everything manifest in our world is derived. It links the finite to the infinite, the yesterday to the here to the tomorrow. This concept has been expressed in many ways, including Aom as: the beginning (a) middle (o) and end (m); past, present, future; creator (Brahma), sustainer (Vishnu), destroyer (Shiva) in Hinduism; body, mind and soul; waking/conscious mind, dreaming/sub-conscious mind, non-dream sleep/unconscious mind; abdomen, chest/throat, head (when chanted); satvas, rajas, tamas (the three gunas or qualities). This sound is often repeated as a mantra at the beginning and/or end of yoga classes to harness this sense of divine energy, collective and individual prana (life energy) and presence.
This is the victorious breath and is created by slightly bringing one’s head and neck in line with one’s spine and engaging jalandhara banda. This type of breathing is done entirely through the nose and emits a soft sound like the coming and going of waves on the ocean. Ujjayi breathing allows students to connect more deeply with their breath, generates internal heat, creates space for a deeper exploration of yoga asanas and the physical body, spreads prana or life energy throughout the body and quiets the mind from distractions.
These are locks in the body. There are three main locks in yoga: moolabandha (root lock, located in the pelvic floor), uddiyanabanda (located behind the navel) and jalandharabandha (located in the neck, just below the chin). By engaging these locks at different points in the practice, students learn to contain and distribute the internal fire and energy stoked through their practice, unifying their bodies.
Other areas of interest within yoga