So’ham is perhaps the simplest of all mantras but these two syllables are immensely sacred and powerful. They mean ‘I am That’ with ‘That’ referring to the Divine foundation of all reality. So’ham is a simple breath mantra: Mentally repeat ‘so’ on the outbreath, and then ‘hum’ on the inbreath. When you begin, with each outbreath you may be aware of receiving act of giving and letting go. With each inbreath you may be aware of receiving of honoring the Self in the moment. Eventually, all intentions dissolve into the simple pulsation of the mantra’s sonic qualities, bringing a stillness and peace within the rhythm that is like serene ocean waves.
Hamsah is a Tantric version of this mantra. The word hamsah means ‘swan’, which represents the individual soul, and can be translated to mean ‘I am That,’ as well. Repeat ‘hum’ on the inbreath and ‘sah’ on the outbreath, observing the innate energy of your breath as it rises and falls in the spine.
Either version of this mantra is perfect to use in meditation or in Savasana. Synchronize the repetition of the mantra with Ujjayi Pranayama to realize powerful results over time.
By Christopher D.Wallis, who is a Sanskrit scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (yogasthana.org) – Yoga Journal May 2009.