The Sound and the Symbol: Integrating the Power of Om into Your Yoga Practice

The Sound and the Symbol: Integrating the Power of Om into Your Yoga Practice

The Om Symbol (Aum)

Om is a sacred sound and symbol. The symbol, ॐ represents the sound, which is traditionally - and some may say more correctly - written as Aum. This sound is a combination of three individual sounds, a, u, and m. It embodies divine energy (known as Shakti) and its three main elements - creation, preservation, and liberation.

It represents all sounds of nature and is considered to be the sound of everything in the universe combined, or ‘the cosmic sound’. The symbol is a combination of two separate symbols in Devanagari, the script used in India and Nepal. It combines the au (ओ) and the m, (ँ).


History

The Aum symbol was first found in the Upanishads, the sacred yogic text. It was often written at the beginning and end of chapters, as a way of connecting the writing with the universe.

This symbol is also found in the Vedas and other sacred Hindu texts, used in a similar way to that of the Upanishads, to join the elements.

The Aum symbol is not limited to Hinduism but is also a sacred mantra in Buddhism and Jainism.


The Use of Aum in Yoga

The sound of Aum or Om is often chanted at the start and end of a yoga class. While it may seem simple, there are many physical and spiritual benefits of carrying on this tradition.

When chanted properly, the sound of Aum is said to touch all of the chakras in the body. As the sound resonates, the energy rises deep from within the root chakra, rising all the way up to the top, the crown chakra. The A makes an ‘ah’ sound and starts with the energy focused at the base of the spine, rising to the solar plexus. The U makes an ‘oo’ sound, with the energy rolling up towards the throat chakra and upper palate. The final sound, the M, makes a deep, reverberating ‘mmm’ sound, with the energy coming all the way up to the top of the head.

As Aum is the sound of the universe, chanting it is a way of acknowledging that we are a part of the eternal cosmos. By chanting at the open and close of a yoga class, it gives a reminder that the class is more than just a series of physical postures. After all, yoga is Sanskrit for ‘union’, so chants that represent universal connection are especially fitting.

Finally, the vibrations caused by chanting this sacred sound activate our parasympathetic nervous system. This is known as the “rest and digest” half of the autonomic nervous system, which helps the body relax and rejuvenate. Activating this response helps us remain open and receptive to all of the good energies yoga can bring us.


Mantras

Aum is not only chanted by itself in yoga classes. It can be chanted 108 times as a deep meditation, connecting the sacred sound of Aum with the sacred number of 108. It is also present in many different mantras, forming an integral part of the mantra. Some of these include:

    • Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti-i. This is a mantra of peace, connecting peace with the universe.
        • Om bhur bhuvah svah, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. This translates as, Earth, Heaven, the Whole Between, the excellent divine power of the Sun, may we contemplate the radiance of that god, may this inspire our understanding.
            • Om Namah Shivaaya, Namah Shivaaya, Nama Shiva. This translates as, I bow to Lord Shiva, the peaceful one who is the embodiment of all that is cause by the universe.
                • Om mani padme hum. This is a reference to the Jewel in the lotus.

                  How to Use the Aum to Enhance Your Practice

                  The Aum symbol is a symbol of human connection with the universe, an essential part of yoga. Chanting Aum in a range of different ways helps to acknowledge and deepen this critical connection.

                  Having the symbol of Aum present during yoga practice or in life off the mat can serve as a profound reminder that we are never on our own. We can keep Aum close always with tattoos, jewelry, images, or statues.


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                  Yogini Soul Staff Writer: Stephanie JohnsonStephanie Johnson, CYI, Yogini Soul Staff Writer, is an elementary school teacher, yoga teacher, meditation student and writer. She is looking for ways to explore this beautiful, crazy life that we have been gifted and to live it with meaning. Stephanie fell in love with yoga as a teenager and has since traveled across the globe in search of gaining knowledge and experiences to deepen her understanding of yoga, from her home country of Australia, to India and across Asia, to Chile, in South America, where she now lives with her partner and two sons. Connect with her on Instagram.

                  Medical Disclaimer: The information provided here in my article on the Yogini Soul website blog and on Yogini Soul social media pages is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider. You agree and acknowledge that I am not providing medical advice. All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health care professional familiar with your current health status. Always consult a qualified personal health care provider before making any dietary or exercise changes. Yoga is not recommended for and is not safe for those with certain medical conditions. Always practice yoga and other exercise programs under the direct supervision and guidance of a qualified yoga instructor, in addition to the direction of your health care provider. The information provided herein is not to be used in any manner as a substitute for the direct guidance of a qualified yoga instructor. As with all situations, there are sometimes unknown individual risks and circumstances that can arise that cannot be foreseen that can influence or reduce results. You understand and agree that any mention of any suggestion or recommendation in this article on the Yogini Soul website blog and Yogini Soul social media pages is to be taken at your own risk, recognizing that there is a rare chance that illness, injury or even death could result, with no liability on my part or that of Yogini Soul, owned by Yogini Lifestyle LLC.

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