If you’re like me, you’re probably at one point wondering why we are chanting OM at the beginning and at the end of a yoga practice. Maybe you’re awkwardly chanting OM because everyone else is chanting, it will be weird if you don’t chant together with them.
So what’s so special about these two letters?
To start, we probably should know that it’s suppose to be three letters, AUM not OM.
- A (pronounced ä as in ‘car’); the sound is originated from the back of your throat and as soon as you say it, you will feel your back of your throat, solar plexus and chest are vibrating. Make this sound for 3 seconds and continue without stopping the U sound.
- U (pronounced ‘oo’); the sound is originated from the middle of your throat (vocal area) and once you make this sound, you will feel your throat vibrating. Make this sound for 3 seconds as well and continue immediately without stopping the M sound.
- M (sounds like a humming bee); this is not pronounced the same way most languages pronounced the alphabet M. It has a sound like a humming bee and should be prolonged. It originates from the tip of your throat. Once you make this sound, you will feel the vibration starting from the throat emanating upward initially and then to the rest of your body. This should take around 6 secs and continued with deep silence and inhalation ready for next round of A.
This is how AUM is written which actually represents the meaning of it. The large, bottom curve of the symbol represents the waking state of consciousness (A), while the top curve symbolizes the deep sleep state and the curve to the right symbolizes the dream state. The dot above the crescent semi-circle represents the transcendental state. The crescent separating the dot from the three curves symbolizes the veil of Maya, or illusion, that keeps us from realizing our true nature.
Symbolically, the three letters embody the divine energy ‘Shakti’ and it’s 3 main characteristics, that is Creation, Preservation, and Liberation.
RETURN TO ONENESS
For those of you who have been chanting AUM in yoga class, did you ever realize that when you first chant AUM, the sound produced by you and your classmates were a bit all over the place? Then the more you do it, the more consistent the sound that’s produced collectively. That’s because unconsciously you will try to match your voice with your classmates. Each of you is trying to make one voice, AUM. Psychologically, at this point, you will start feeling as one and not so different from your classmates. You will stop comparing their yoga pants with yours, or how some of your classmates had more toned bodies. You’ll become more focus on your practice.
It is also said that the sound of AUM is the sound of universe. While I still need to be able to digest that sentence, there are abundant of articles (scholarly and not) that do mention the same thing. That the frequency of AUM sound is the same with the frequency of the universe. How do they measure the frequency of universe, I have no idea. Which means when you say AUM, you’re pretty much syncing your frequency to the whole universe’s frequency. In one article, it says, “When we chant AUM at the beginning and end of yoga class, we are symbolically and energetically tuning in to the transcendental vibration of the universe and everything in existence.”
I quite like how this article scientifically explains what happens when we chant AUM:
“You might have heard of quantum physics, it’s a science which explains what really happens at the ‘micro’ level of everything. For example, if we took a layer of our skin and placed it under a microscope, we could see the cells of our skin. You might know that our cells are made up of atoms and molecules. As we examine those atoms even further, at the end they are all just energy! – with a unique vibrational frequency. Similarly, everything else around us is energy at the micro level. Even the furniture in our home, roads, sidewalks, rivers, trees etc. all are pulsating and vibrating at different speeds, but we can’t see those vibrations with our naked eyes. As we all are vibrations on a micro level, so when we chant Om, again and again, we create its pure vibrations in our body. We become in tune with the vibrations of the Om and we become one with the Om. Om chanting connects us to all that is living, from beings to nature, to the Universe.”
PHYSIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY BENEFITS FROM CHANTING AUM
There are surprisingly a lot of scientific research done to understand the benefit of chanting mantra (especially AUM) to our body. From how echolocation can be used to understand how AUM works and the effect of it to our mind to meditating and chanting AUM are proven to take away mental pressure, provides steadiness and peace to our mind, a brain stabilizer, usage in treatment of depression and epilepsy, lowering blood pressure to even able to alter our DNA. These are some serious claims backed by evidences that would probably help those who are skeptic about chanting AUM to be more confident in trying it out.
HELP TO MOVE ENERGY UP THROUGH THE CHAKRAS
Now, you might need some hard core beliefs in acknowledging we have 7 colorful wheels of energy in our body. But even the skeptic me is very drawn into this topic. The idea is by doing the 8 limbs of yoga we should be able to unlock the energy that’s resting at the base of our spine (the root chakra) up through all the other 6 chakras until it reaches our crown chakra and that’s when we achieved enlightenment or samadhi (super-conscious state).
Doing asana, being one of the 8 limbs of yoga, helps us to move this energy up. The same with chanting AUM. Remember how the flow of AUM sounds? It moves from the back of our throat vibrating from our solar plexus and chest to the middle of the throat and then our head before emanating to the rest of our body. This movement from bottom up is also helping the energy in our body to move up as well.
If you’re like me, you probably often ask “why?” in your head. I asked “why” when I had to chant AUM for the first time. After understanding why, whenever I chant AUM, I do it with every good intention I have in me. To become one, to become good, to become enlightened. Or I should say, as enlightened as I can be. 🙂
AUM Shanti Shanti Shanti.
Krisianto Gondohutomo – YTT200 – Sep 2017