What is OM?

Om is a simple mantra (a sound used to aid meditation) often chanted at the beginning and end of yoga classes.  It sets a tone and intention to a class, connecting students with themselves and each other and seals the end of practice in the same way with gratitude.

The sound of the Universe

Om is a Sanskrit word.  Its symbol can be found in ancient texts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.   The Hindu Mandukya Upanishad, is entirely devoted to om, begins: “Om is the imperishable word. Om is the universe, and this is the exposition of om. The past, the present, and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is om. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is om.”

Om is called a seed sound (bija), the original sound from which all other sounds and worlds come from.

Om as AUM

When spoken Om actually has 3 syllables A-U-M which are sounded and its 4th syllable is silent.

A “aaah” – represents the creation aspect of the universe and all of the gross objects within it.  It connects us to our sense of self, the ego.

U  “oooh” – signifies the maintaining energy of the universe and the subtle impressions of the mind. It connects us to an inner sense of something greater than that which we can see and feel with our senses.

M “mmm” – characterizes the transformative energy of the universe and the thoughts and beliefs of your beingness.  It allows you to slow down in order to feel the connectedness of all that is.

the silence which follows –  is the vibration which is beyond verbal pronunciation.  It is pure consciousness of the Self or the Atman. The unity of Sat Chit Ananda (I exist, I know, I am blissful) is experienced here.

The three sounds are believed to represent various trilogies such as heaven, earth, and the underworld,  the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva  and the waking, dreaming, and dreamless states.

Om as a symbol

Some believe that the Symbol of Om represents the shapes of the three sounds A-U-M others that it connects to the shape of the Hindu god Ganesh, the remover of obstacles.

Om as an experience

Om is not just a symbol or a sound.  It has to be experienced. As a Sanskrit word its quality of vibration helps to focus the mind and calm the senses. Notice how the vibration rises from the abdomen through the chest and up to the crown of the head.

So enjoy the sound and experience of Om in your own practice and with your fellow students as you connect to yourself, each other and the universe around you.

 

 

Articles used in the writing of this post which you might be interested in:

http://www.yogitimes.com/article/what-is-om-mean-meaning-sanskrit

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kripalu/meaning-of-om_b_4177447.html

 

 

  • Sarah is the owner of Breathing Space Yoga.  She teaches Baby Yoga to local babies and their parents, postnatal yoga classes and adult yoga classes. Her blog is a mixture of information on Baby Yoga, Postnatal Yoga, Yoga in general, recommendations for parents and students from personal experiences and inspiring bits and bobs she finds along the way.
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