Om: sacred and divine
“Om is the primordial throb of the universe. It is the sound form of Atma (consciousness).” ~ Maitri Upanishad
Disclaimer: Om’s meaning is larger than life and I would never claim to understand it or call myself an expert on Om, or any other Sanskrit word. I started Saturday Morning Sanskrit with the intention of opening up a conversation with others who are interested in learning more about this ancient and sacred language.
Here’s what I’ve learned about Om… yoga and science agree that the basic nature of everything in the universe is composed of vibration, whether it’s sound, light or any other type of energy. Chanting Om causes every cell to vibrate at a similar energy frequency.
Om is divided into four parts (sometime spelled Aum). It’s pronounced Ah-Oh-Mmmm
- Ah is the first sound in any language. This sound is also found in the words God, Amen, Brahman (the Hindu word for God) and Allah (the Muslim word for God). Pretty fascinating if you ask me.
- Oh is next. The first sound of Ah comes from the back of the throat. Oh comes from the center of the tongue.
- Mmm, the final sound comes from closed lips. That’s why it’s said that Om encompasses all other sounds. You literally make the entire range of sound vibration when you chant this one single word. Actually it’s not really considered a word, more like a sound. That’s part of the beauty. Since it’s not really a word it doesn’t have any connotations. Yet, it’s said to encompass every other word in the universe since it has the entire range of sound vibration it it. Confused yet?
- The fourth part is the silence after the Mmmm sound. There’s a silent vibration that keeps humming after you’ve stopped making any noise.
Many yoga classes start out by chanting Om three times. Here’s a beautiful blog post about why.
There are tons of Om sounds on YouTube. There’s so much more that could be said about Om…
What does Om mean to you?
For me it’s about letting go of thoughts and distractions. Chanting Om three times signifies a start to my yoga practice. It helps me focus on my breath and calms everything. One round at the end brings closure to my practice. Om leaves me with a blissful feeling of inner peace.
P.S. Skipping Om makes me feel like something’s missing from my yoga practice. It has that specialness about it.