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The practice of Soham Yoga is very simple. Making ourselves aware of our breathing, when we inhale we mentally intone So throughout the inhalation, and when we exhale we mentally intone Ham throughout the exhalation. And we do this continuously. When we are doing other things at the same time, we call it Soham Japa, and when we sit upright with closed eyes, we call it Soham Meditation.
Soham Yoga is based on the science of spiritual sound. A mantra is a series of sounds whose effect lies not in an assigned intellectual meaning, but in an inherent sound-power that can produce a specific effect physically or psychologically. The word mantra itself comes from the Sanskrit expression manat trayate which means “a transforming thought,” that which produces an objective, perceptible change. When joined to the breath, Soham is the supreme mantra of Self-awareness and Self-knowledge culminating in liberation.
The proper pronunciation of Soham
For a mantra to produce its effect it must be pronounced correctly. Soham is pronounced like our English words So and Hum.
The whole word is pronounced Soham.
Now let’s go through each letter of Soham and consider its correct pronunciation.
The S is pronounced as in the English words Say, So and Sign. A simple “S.” Some languages pronounce the letter S like the SH in ash or cash Sh. But this is not correct for Soham Sadhana practice
It is most important to pronounce the O correctly. It should be pronounced like the long o in the Italian or common American manner–as in home and lone. In England, Canada, and parts of the American South, the long o is sometimes pronounced as a diphthong, like two vowels jammed together: either like “ay-oh” or “eh-oh.” This is not the correct manner of pronouncing the O, which should be a single, pure vowel sound.
The same is true of the U in ham (hum). It is pronounced “U” like the u in up or hunt–not like the u in truth or push, as is done in parts of Great Britain. The short a in Sanskrit is pronounced like the u in up or hunt, so we say “hum” h-u-m, even though we write it as h-a-m.
The M in Soham is like that in English, such as sum or come.
The benefit of intonation
A mantra is most effective if it is mentally intoned–that is, mentally “sung”–on a single note: Soham, Soham, Soham. (The actual pitch of the note doesn’t matter–whatever is spontaneous and natural to you.) This makes the repetition stronger and of deeper effect, because intoning unifies the mind and naturally concentrates it.
Japa, the continual repetition of the mantra
The way to receive the benefit of a mantra is japa, the continual repetition-intonation of the mantra. In this way the invoker is constantly imbued with the power and consciousness inherent in the mantra. So whenever we intone Soham in time with the breath, we align and link our consciousness with its origin: both our spirit and Divine Spirit. And we do the same when we sit with closed eyes and meditate. The process is the same.
The mental sound of Soham in time may become more and more soft and even become like a light whisper or even a soundless repetition as when we just “mouth” a word when we don’t want to speak aloud. But please realize: The inner intonations of Soham NEVER stop. Soham continues to be repeated in the consciousness even if in a very subtle form. It cannot be described, but it will be experienced.
If you have any doubts or questions regarding your Soham Yoga practice, you may email them using our contact page here.
And please occasionally reread Soham Yoga: The Yoga of the Self, [read it free online here, or download a free PDF from our E-Library, or get the ebook or paperback on Amazon here] as it contains much practical advice to make sure your practice is the most effective.