WHAT IS OM & WHY DO WE CHANT IT?
Om (pron.: əʊm or ɒm) is said to be the oldest sound in yogic tradition of Hinduism and Tibetan buddhism. Sometimes spelled and chanted as “AUM”, it contains reference to three states of mind:
- A: Jagrat – Creator –
- U: Swapna – Preserver,
- M: Shushupti – Destroyer.
(some more information on this view here)
In another (not very different) view, the mantra “OM or AUM” represents God, the absolute and the vibration of the Supreme. It is pronounced with a strong nasalised or hummed m.Thus, A-U-M represents the divine energy (Shakti) united in its three elementary aspects:
- A- Bhrahma Shakti (creation),
- U – Vishnu Shakti (preservation),
- M – Shiva Shakti (liberation, and/or destruction).
Maybe, in a more modern understanding, we can think of these letters to represent the beginning/birth, the process of life and the death/end of the universe or all things.
When chanted at the beginning of the yoga practice, it sets the tone of the class and helps bring concentration to the mind, marks the beginning and the end of the class. In order to achieve a state of content, yoga needs to be practiced with focus and presence of mind. So, the resonance that occurs during the chant creates a sense of relaxation and helps with the elasticity needed to expand the lungs further.
I, personally, stick to the latter understanding and that is why I like to chant at the beginning and at the end of each class.