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What Is OM?

Let’s begin this article with the sound of 3 AUM’s. All together now, “AAAAUUUUMMMM… AAAAUUUUMMMM… AAAUUUMMMM…”

Whether or not you joined me in chanting AUM just now, you must be curious about it, or else you wouldn’t be here. At the start and end of many yoga classes, our teachers often lead us through the chanting of AUM, or OM as many people are use to seeing it. But what is AUM? Why do we say it in yoga class? What is the significance, and how does it tie into my yoga practice?

As many other terms in yoga, AUM is a bit difficult to explain because it’s so complex. However, it is definitely worth learning about and understanding.

OM, or AUM represents the universal consciousness and the source, so to put very simply, it is everything.

It is comprised of 4 syllables:

1. A

This represents the conscious state, which is the state of being born or being alive and experiencing the world through our senses.

2. U

This represents the dream state, which is the state of experiencing the world behind closed eyes, or without our actual senses.

3. M

This represents the unconscious state, which is the state of deep sleep or death.

4. Silence

This represents the absolute or infinite state, which is a state of complete quiet, calm, and peacefulness. Not looking outside or inside ourselves for anything.

Why Do We Chant It?

Because AUM represents the entire universe, we chant it in yoga class to acknowledge our connectedness to everything and everyone around us. We are all one, and we were created in the likeness of our creator. We are connected to nature, our neighbor, and the universe as a whole, and by chanting AUM, we honor and accept that concept.

If you want to think of it in a more practical light (a.k.a. the reason above doesn’t align with your personal beliefs), chanting AUM actually creates a calming effect in our bodies similar to what we experience in meditation. It helps to calm us down, center our minds, and prepare us to move forward in a mindful way.

We hope that helped you in understanding AUM (or OM) a bit better