I recently joined a yoga studio not far from my beautiful pink house. It seems to be the vibe these days. My first week was smooth, I managed to make a new friend. We went to the same “Basic Yoga” class a few times a week. I was content, happy with a smile every time I left. My friend and I decided we were getting to be pros at this yoga vibe. We both agreed to attend the intermediate class “Mixed Level Flow.” Flow is the term they use to describe how the poses go one into another, simple and graceful on all levels. We both got to our new class, rolled out our mats, got our yoga cushy blocks, soft blankets, long purple rectangle bolsters, and matching straps to use for stretching. The teacher was so pleasant and kind to everyone, she even went out of her way to say “HI” to everyone. I snuggled onto my mat in a cross-legged position. I suddenly heard the echoes of my 4-year-old saying “criss-cross, applesauce.” I love my darling Lil’ Meshy Bumpkin. I felt SO GOOD in that very moment, getting ready to practice yoga with my new friends and I was confident I would make even more friends. I was in bliss. This is the perfect life for a 30 or 40 something-year-old living in a beautiful area of the world. Our yoga instructor welcomed the class as a whole and had us center our minds and told us to let any of our worries disappear, all while taking long, double-rainbow extending breaths. Now this is heaven in a bottle. Heaven in a barrel! Nothing could be better than this right now. Until…yes, she said what I didn’t think modern day yoga people do anymore. She said, “on our next breath, as we exhale, open your mouth and together say a long ‘OM’.” Wait! She did not just say that. I DID NOT join a cult. This is NOT real. I want OUT, now!!
Embarrassingly, I clenched my mouth and thought, I’m picking up my mat, I’m going to leave my stuff for the teacher to pick up after me, I don’t care! If I don’t they are going to force me to stay and I will be forced to take legal action against this yoga studio! I moved my arm a little and opened one eye and peeked at my friend. She is starting to open her MOUTH! NO way, is she going to join this cult this very second? Ah ha, she isn’t making a sound, everyone else is. I can feel everyone else’s voice, but not hers. I can feel EVERYONE’s voice except hers! See, I knew it. She’s a poser and we can be stealthy and not say OM. OK, I’ll stay and do the yoga class for today. I hope the instructor lets me leave without pointing me out.
Class finished with the most cosmic, pseudo-NAP! It’s called “Shavasana!” (spelled Savasanamynewfriend!) And then suddenly, there SHE came after class. She made a beeline right to where I was standing. Here it comes, she’s going to ask me why I didn’t say OM with everyone. She gets within a few feet of me and smiles and I slowly see her mouth open, here it comes…and she says it. I knew she would. Wow, did I just hear her say it? She had the nerve to open her Charles Mansonite-cult leader mouth and say with a soft voice “We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday for class, Thank You!” …WAIT, WHAT, wait, she didn’t say IT! Is she letting me go! Should I run?? Am I off the hook!? Fly little bird, you are not a witch after all, Lil’ Meshy Bumpkin can get married in peace when she grows up.
Out in the parking lot, as we left class, I asked my friend why she didn’t make a sound for the OM? She said she wanted to, but she didn’t for some reason, and that in the last class she took, the instructor said you don’t have to make the sound if you don’t want to – the teacher explained that when you make the sound of OM, you are making the sound of the whole universe because everything around us is vibrating. That’s exactly what I learned in science class! My friend said she used to take voice lessons and that her voice teacher said that saying OM is like saying all the singing vowels in one breath. A_E_AH_OH_UM.
Two days later I went back for another class with a slight hesitation. But I went. This time, my friend couldn’t make it. I was a little guarded, but I’m ok with not saying OM. At the beginning of class the instructor said “On the next breath open your mouth…”, I somehow opened my mouth without thinking, and, with a light, airy breath, unexpectedly said “umm.” Not even for a millisecond. Just an “um.” OH NO! I thought in my head I just joined “The Cult.” My beautiful Lil’ Bumpkin has a witch for a mother, NOW HOW will I ever explain to her when she is about to get married?? I still hear and feel everyone’s voice saying OM. I felt a little warm all of the sudden. The vent must have opened and let warm air in.
The weekend passed with all of its activity-filled places to be with kids, family, and friends. By Monday, I was needing my yoga. My friend and I met for class and got all of our goodies together near our mats. I was anxious about the OM thing. I hadn’t asked my friend if she was going to just hold her mouth open and strike a good, fake buddha pose or not. I bet she will. She did last week. With my eyes closed, I sat on my mat slowly breathing long, big breaths and the time came: “On the next breath, as we exhale….” I started to fake it because I knew my friend was going to. But, I opened my mouth and this beautiful vibration from my soul chimed in with the class and I said “OOHHMMM.” Surprisingly, I even heard my friend’s voice! I felt that warm air again, I felt a sonic vibration again, I felt a belonging, I felt a sense that we are all here to connect. This silver-lined tingle went through my body from my head to my toes. I felt like I just made friends with every soul in the universe and I didn’t have to invite them to any social gathering ever, but they would always be welcomed. I GET IT NOW! It’s not a cult. It’s our oneness with everything ever. I imagine it’s like singing in a choir where you feel a connection to the people you are singing with. Saying OM in a group is something anyone can do. It’s a connection to anything and everything. Mysteriously, I had this calmness that I somehow, in my life, had always been saying OM. Now I am not afraid to say it out loud.