You’ve probably been to a few yoga classes in which the teacher either opens or closes the class by leading a chant of the word “om”. If you are unfamiliar with this phrase and its meaning, you may have hesitated to join in. I know I certainly did. The first time I experienced this in a yoga class, I wanted to run for the door. It felt weird and I did not understand its meaning. No way was I going to chant this word because for all I knew it was the Sanskrit equivalent of saying “Beetlejuice” three times.
During Teacher Training, we were taught the meaning of “om” and why we chant it in class. Essentially, om represents the energy or life force of the Universe. It represents the beginning, middle, and end of the Universe. When we chant it together, it allows us to feel connected to the Universe and to each other.
There are actually four sounds in the word “om”. Phonetically, when we chant it, we say “aum”. The “a” or “ahhhh” represents the sound made at the beginning of all creation. The “u” or “ooooh” represents the maintaining of energy or life. The “m” or “mmm” represents transformation and unification of energy. The fourth sound is silence. This silence is the silence of the Universe and is found within us all. It connects us and allows us to feel united. You can learn more about the sounds and how to make them in this awesome video.
When you chant “om” at the beginning or end of a yoga class, you are essentially linking the energies in the room and becoming aware of your body, each other, and the Universe. However, you don’t have to wait until your next class to do this. You can chant “om” before or after you meditate as a way to center your energies and calm your mind and body. And don’t worry, if you don’t chant “om” in class nothing bad will happen to you. Sometimes you feel like an om, sometimes you don’t.