By Annie Moyer
In a recent conversation about yoga in Northern Virginia, someone described Sun & Moon as a place where, instead of getting a sweat, it’s “all about the OM.”
A bit about the sweat, just to be clear. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down, and its composition is 99% water, 1% trace amounts of salt, sugar, urea, and ammonia. Meanwhile, the body releases toxins almost entirely via the liver (sending waste into the intestines), and the kidneys (sending waste into the urinary tract). So, if you’re sweating at a yoga studio where they turned up the heat and claimed they’re doing it so you release toxins, that studio has captured your attention via a clever but false marketing ploy. On the other hand, if you’re sweating because you did healthy exercise and your inner thermostat naturally rose, this is great news that your body is well-equipped to restore you to equilibrium. We are big fans of getting the body moving through healthy activities like brisk walks, team sports, and inspired visits to the gym or swimming pool. Sometimes we get the body warmed up and moving in yoga practice, and we love that too, as long as it’s done with good instruction and attention to safe alignment. But it can’t be said enough: yoga is more than exercise.
And now, about the OM. A Sanskrit syllable sacred in Hindu and Buddhist tradition, OM is a root cousin of the Latin omni, and a root ancestor of amen. According to Georg Feuerstein, eminent Sanskrit scholar and author of The Shambhala Encyclopedia of Yoga, OM is the “sound of the soundless,” and provides a point of focus for the yogi seeking to “transcend the finite,” or find comfort in the truth of impermanence. From our perspective as a yoga studio celebrating 25 years of cultivating community and promoting healing and wellness, OM stands for each human’s potential to tap into loving presence when we take a moment to slow down, tune in, inhale, and exhale. We invite students onto the yoga mat to tease apart the knots that breed tension in the body, repair imbalances, and re-shape problematic movement patterns. Ease in the body leads to ease in the mind and heart, where we feel the resonance of peace, and perhaps the soft and faithful vibrations of sacred sound.
The dichotomy between sweat and OM is one that yoga folks have been talking about for the last decade, since yoga’s popularity skyrocketed. Western-style commercialism and the external beauty ideal have left a strong imprint in the yoga industry. The fact that we’re even calling it an industry is a case in point, and the economics have produced a glut of supply in the face of wide-ranging demand. Some of that demand is for physically challenging exercise, for sure. Some of it is for the quiet stillness of meditation. And a lot of it encompasses both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. Regular folks are nursing all kinds of physical, mental, and spiritual wounds, and grasping for any and all ways to heal and stay healthy. They’re seeking the supportive company of others, the guidance of good teachers, the laughter and fun that happen when defenses come down, and the hallelujah of getting out from behind their devices. Sun & Moon is chock full of those regular folks, and we’re practicing, learning, laughing, and healing right alongside them.
You bet your lululemon we’re all about the OM.