After leading us through a meditation to slow and deepen our breathing, we would be instructed to slowly rise into our comfortable seated posture from supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle pose). Eyes remained closed; our attention focused inward. From there we would chant OM three times in unison. On her instruction, we would inhale deeply together and on the exhale would pour our souls into a beautiful harmonized Oooooooommmmmmmmm.
Inhale together again. Oooooooooommmmmm.
Inhale together again. Ooooooooommmmmmm.
Now we were ready to begin our physical practice.
The first time I attended her class, I felt intimidated. I had never chanted OM before. And while I didn’t know what it meant, my biggest concern was not whether or not it implied worship of a false idol, but rather could tone-deaf me chant on key.
|The OM Symbol|
In researching the meaning of OM, one of the best descriptions I found came from an article posted on the website theyogacommunity.com which states the following:
For the complete article, click here.Om is a sound and a symbol which is rich in meaning and depth. It represents the divine in each of us, as well as our interconnectivity. It reminds us that we have the ability to move past our physical and mental states of consciousness and connect with the divine – both in ourselves and others. In its essence, Om represents the sound of divinity in all things in the past, present and future.
Just as the world and all it encompasses is too vast to completely comprehend, I still do not fully understand the meaning of OM. But when performed, the release of energy into the universe and the peaceful feeling that reverberates back can only be described as magical.
A beautiful thing I discovered from my fear of chanting out of tune is that it cannot be done wrong. The more air you breathe in, combined with the more you open your mouth and the louder you sing, the more magnificient the sound. Do not hold back. Let your Oooooommmmmm out!
OM as defined by Yoga Journal:
Om is a mantra, or vibration, that is traditionally chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. It is said to be the sound of the universe. What does that mean?
Somehow the ancient yogis knew what scientists today are telling us—that the entire universe is moving. Nothing is ever solid or still. Everything that exists pulsates, creating a rhythmic vibration that the ancient yogis acknowledged with the sound of Om. We may not always be aware of this sound in our daily lives, but we can hear it in the rustling of the autumn leaves, the waves on the shore, the inside of a seashell.
Chanting Om allows us to recognize our experience as a reflection of how the whole universe moves—the setting sun, the rising moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the beating of our hearts. As we chant Om, it takes us for a ride on this universal movement, through our breath, our awareness, and our physical energy, and we begin to sense a bigger connection that is both uplifting and soothing.
OM as defined by dictionary.com
noun: a mantric word thought to be a complete expression of Brahman and interpreted as having three sounds representing Brahma or creation, Vishnu or preservation, and Siva or destruction, or as consisting of the same three sounds, representing waking, dreams, and deep sleep, along with the following silence, which is fulfillment.
OM as defined by Merriam-Webster
: a mantra consisting of the sound \ˈōm\ and used in contemplation of ultimate reality.