Om: The Sweet Sound of the Universe
In our first few yoga classes, it may seem a little strange or awkward to loudly chant a funny “home” like sound before we begin our yoga practice…
Yet, with a bit of understanding and practice, you may just fall in love with the beauty and benefits of the incredible sound of Om.
It is a sacred mantra and sound vibration traditionally chanted before and after spiritual practices in the yogic tradition.
Mantras are like scientific formulas of sound vibration known to have unique qualities, effects and energies. Repetition of mantras, including the sound of Om, are proven to have incredible benefits for the body, mind, and spirit.
What is Om?
Om is one of the most simple and ancient mantras, or sound vibrations. Known as the sacred primordial sound, it is said in the yogic tradition that all sound is born from Om. Om is known as the original vibration of the universe.
This sacred sound is composed of three fundamental syllables – A U M, which represents the various states of awareness, and the trinity of divine energies of Creation, Preservation and Dissolution. The final soundless sound of the sacred vibration of AUM is silence; that which is beyond all states— our True Nature.
Within Aum, the first sound is “Ah,” then the sound “Ooh,” then “Mm,” followed by a pause of silence.
Why should we chant Om?
All life on earth is simply energy, occupying space and matter. Everything we’ve ever known is simply vibration resonating at various frequencies. Similarly, chanting the sound vibration of Om is mathematically consistent with the frequency found throughout everything in nature and the universe.
Known as the “sound of the universe,” the sacred primordial sound and original vibration, the practice of chanting Om is like training our own vibration back to our original resonance— our True Nature. We are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound frequency and remembering our connection to all living beings, nature and the universe.
Chanting Om is like turning on the switch to cosmic energy— it is the transmission of pure Divine Love, and therefore it is necessary to first chant Om before and after spiritual practices to both initiate and seal the energy, as well as before chanting other mantras to have the full effect.
Mantras, including Om, are indestructible positive energies— meaning they remain in the cosmos indefinitely for the greater good of all and help reduce negative karmas.
Additionally, the repetition of Om is scientifically proven to help calm the mind, balance the nervous system, evoke knowledge, assist in healing the body and mind, increase physiological alertness and synchronicity of certain biorhythms, increase health and well-being and create a single-pointed, concentrated awareness in the mind.
How do we chant Om?
Om acts as bookends to the practice. It establishes the beginning and end of Sadhana, yoga or spiritual practices such as meditation, pranayama, yoga asana, or chanting other mantra. It helps to differentiate the practice from other parts of the day, and contain and build the energy within the practice.
To open and close your yoga and spiritual practices with Om, try this:
Find a comfortable position with an upright spine and eyes closed.
Take a moment to ground, center, focus with love and gratitude in your heart.
Take a deep breath in, and on the exhale make the sound AUM (Ah, Ooh, Mm.)
Repeat 3 or 9 times total.
Tips for chanting Om
Begin the “a” sound (Ah) of AUM at a lower resonance, and then raise the sound to a higher note as you sound “u” (Ooh) and “m” (Mm.)
Create equal length of all three sounds A,U,M. And finish the whole sound with a pause of silence as you take your next big inhalation to create the next sound.
Visualize moving the vibration from the first chakra, the base of the spine, up to the seventh chakra, the crown of the head, as you feel the sound rising from the tips of your toes to the top of your head.
On the “m” sound of AUM, you may try pressing your tongue to the roof of the mouth with your lips closed to stimulate the seventh chakra as you create the sound of a buzzing bee.
When chanted with devotion, love and sincerity, the positive effects of the vibrations are catalyzed and made more powerful.
With a greater understanding of the meaning of Om, may you receive more from and deepen your yoga practice, remember your True Nature, and return to Oneness.