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What Does OM Mean?

Yoga | Yoga for Beginners

I hear it all the time but I never really thought about what OM actually means. Can you enlighten me? Sarah M.

The Answer

Heya sister! You’re right. We’re constantly OMing here and OMing there, and although it sounds incredibly beautiful, rarely do we stop to think about what it even means.

There are many different translations, uses and regards of the word Om, but in “simple” terms (HA!) it is the basic sound of the world, used to contain all other sounds. The sound of God, of the universe, etc. It’s a Sanskrit vibration or mantra made up of three different sounds (aa, au, and ma) that is used often at the beginning and/or end of yoga classes to not only join students with teachers, but also to connect us deeper with the entire universe.

While it’s believed to be the sound of creation, many like to think of it as the sound of silence. I know, crazy right? But I’m not talking about the kind of silence you might experience in an empty house or down a quiet street. I’m referring to that silent sort of vibration you may experience when you’re completely still. So, when we chant OM by ourselves or with others, we’re in a way tuning into that silence, that vibration inside of us to resonate with the silence and vibration of the universe.

It really is quite a beautiful thing, if you think about it, opening your mouth to make one simple sound, just to be reminded that you’re an integral part of existence right here, right now. Namaste!

Additional Tips

If the thought of using the sound of OM sounds a little too “la la yoga” to you, consider the physical benefits the chanting has for you. The rhythmic pronunciation of the sound can help calm the mind and nervous system, just as meditation does. The vibration can also help clear your sinuses. Yay!

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