Om (pronounced “aum”) is a mantra, vibration or vocalization often chanted 3 times at the beginning and 3 times at the end of a yoga class. But what does that chant mean? “Om” is actually a very simple sound with a complex meaning. It represents the whole universe in just one syllable. Chanting om at the beginning of class unifies the people in the class together as one. This fusion is symbolic of the union of mind, body and spirit that happens during your yoga practice. Knowing the background of this sacred syllable will help you understand yoga even more, allowing you to delve deeper into your practice.
Om is one of the most chanted syllables in India. The sound is believed to have a profound effect on the mind, body, and surroundings of the person that speaks it. Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us-that the entire universe is moving, with nothing ever solid or still. Everything in existence pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the sound of the waves on the shore, the rustling of autumn leaves, even the sound of the ocean inside a seashell. Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves – the rising and setting of the sun, the ebb and flow of the tides, the waves of our breath and the beating of our hearts. The sound of Om establishes us in universal movement our practice and connecting us through our breath, self-awareness and physical energy. As we chant “aaaauuuuummmmm” at the beginning and ending of our practice, we begin to sense a bigger connection to the universe.