Meaning of OM:
A simple sound “OM” is heard in almost every yoga class. However, many people do not know OM symbol meaning and get confused when they hear it being chanted. So to begin with, OM, also spelled as AUM, is the most sacred syllable in Hinduism. OM, like the Swastika, is seen in every Hindu temple and shrine. OM appears in Vedic Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language practiced by the Vedas and is used as a word of solemn affirmation and respectful assent, often translated as “yes, verily so be it”. AUM is referred to in almost all Upanishads-Spiritual Books of Wisdom.
OM or AUM represents the Hindu Trimurti or Trinity- “A”: Brahma representing the principle of creation, “U”: Vishnu, the principle of sustenance, “M”: Mahesh or Shiva-the principle of dissolution for further creation. OM is believed to be the sounds of the world and contains within it, all the other sounds in the world. When OM is repeated with a proper intonation, it resonates through the body and penetrates into one’s body and soul.
OM symbol in Yoga:
The shape of the OM symbol somehow looks to the number ‘30’, having a hat on top. When you attend a yoga class as a beginner, the yoga guru there will first explain you yoga symbols and meanings and then start with the yoga asanas. This is important as the symbols add meaning to our understanding and yoga practice.
The yoga symbol “OM” represents oneness of all creation, including the earth, heavens and underworld. The symbol is said to represent four state of consciousness: dreaming, deep sleep, Samadhi and wakefulness. Hence, Om is considered as a powerful mantra and the ritual of OM mantra chanting is being carried out since thousands of years.
Why do we chant OM?
The entire universe is made up of vibrating, pulsating energy. Om is the humming sound of this cosmic energy. It is considered the all-pervading, all connecting sound of the universe and the vibration that connects us all. So as such when we chant OM, we symbolically and physically tune in the sound of the universe and realize the connection we have with nature and other living beings.
The vibrations created while chanting the word OM also have a calming effect on the mind as they slow down the nervous system. So when the mind is relaxed, the blood pressure decreases which in turn improves the heart’s health.
At the end of a tiring day, chanting OM gives a special feeling as it is the time when you take care of yourself and practice being mindful.
How is OM used in Yoga?
OM is the most important and significant sound in the Mantra tradition of Yoga. Chanting is an integral part of yoga practice. Yoga OM Chant is considered to be the root mantra and is the most often chanted sound in a yoga class. In yoga practice, teachers often begin and end their yoga session with one or more long OM’s.
Using the mantra Om as an opening chant in Yoga class is a beautiful and effective way to help set the proper tone for the class. It assists you in turning your focus inward, becoming centered and approaching your practice from your heart. Closing chants are used as a way of tying everything together.
There is a certain type of yoga that has OM heavily integrated with it, called Pranava yoga, which is sometimes even known as “OM yoga” or “OM yoga meditation”. Practitioners sit comfortably with their hands on their knees or thighs and then along with breathing, they mentally chant the word OM while meditating.
OM yoga is basically about centering your concentration, experiencing your breathing and chanting OM along with the breath as though they are taking place together. During this time you should remain completely calm and relaxed. Breathing during OM yoga should be slow, deep and relaxed.
In a yoga class, OM is also used during meditation to help reach a state of calm and relaxation. OM chanting meditation can help to greatly reduce your stress and to center your body and mind and help in many areas of your health and life.