Om has powerful meaning and significance. The ancient mantra or vibration traditionally chanted at the at the beginning and end of a yoga class, helps foster a deeper connection to the practise than can be achieved with rhythmic breathing and physical postures.
Om is considered sacred and resonates a high spiritual and creative energy. Chanting Om is said to create a sense of harmony and unity between the yoga instructor and their students, as well as in the mind, body and soul. Om is believed to represent the basic sound of the Universe: the cosmic vibration that gives birth to all other sounds.
When pronounced correctly, the sanskrit word Om it is actually A-U-M and actually consists of four syllables:
A – The stretched-out A sound begins at the back of your throat and as it is stretched out, you will begin to sense your chest and solar plexus vibrating.
U – The stretched out “oo” sound will gradually resonate along your upper palate, creating vibrations in your throat.
M – The prolonged “mmmm” sound.
The last syllable is created via the transition from the “M” to the deep silence of the Infinite.
The first three states syllables equate to the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious states of the mind. Encompassing the divine energy (Shakti), these three letters symbolise the basis of it; (1) creation, (2) preservation and (3) liberation.
According to yoga, Samkya and other scriptures, the letters of Om correspond to three gunas (principals of nature);
A = tamas, signifying darkness, inertia and ignorance (waking state)
U = rajas, signifying passion, activity and dynamism (dream state)
M = sattva, signifying purity, truth and light (state of deep sleep)
The Benefit of Chanting Om
The natural humming energy of Om exists all around us. Om vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz, which is the same frequency as everything in nature. Keep in mind that everything in the entire universe is actually pulsating and vibrating, from the furniture in your home to roads and sidewalks and rivers and trees.
Einstein coined the definition of matter with his equation E=mc2, that suggests all matter consists of energy waves, which can be converted from one form into another. Eg. from electricity to heat and heat to electricity. Chanting Om connects us to all that is living, from beings, to nature, to the universe.
Chanting Om has a physical benefit to the body, as it slows down the nervous system and calms the mind in a way much like meditation. Through the rhythmic pronunciation, the mind is relaxed and blood pressure decreases, ultimately resulting in an improvement in heart health.
Part of the sacred scriptures of most Hindi traditions, the Om mantra is referred to as being the same as the supreme consciousness.
Om is sometimes used in conjunction with other mantras and is added to the beginning or end. Eg. Hari Om or Om Namo Shivaya.
Technique for Chanting Om
Sit cross-legged with an upright posture, with your spine, head, neck and spine aligned. Close your eyes and inhale deeply and release your breath while executing the chant. Repeating this three times will allow you to feel the vibration of the Om sound resonating through every single cell in your body.