OM: The Meaning Behind the Sacred Chant + 6 Surprising Benefits

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Have you ever wondered why some instructors chant the word “OM” at the end and sometimes at the beginning of a yoga class? It is such a simple sound, yet entire books have been written about Om, OM, or AUM. No one knows exactly where the mantra came from, or how old it really is.
According to Georg Feuerstein in his book The Deeper Dimension of Yoga, Om is the most “comprehensive, universal, non-personal, holy sound symbol and signifier of the Supreme Infinite Divine Reality.” Om is said to be the totality of all planes macro and micro, and is the oldest mantra or sound in existence.
OM is often said to be the sound of the Universe. It is the universal vibration that connects us all.
The sound OM is spelled “AUM.” Two millennia after the sacred syllable was discovered, the anonymous sage who composed the Mandukya Upanishad explained the three constituent parts of the syllable:

OM is often said to be the sound of the Universe. It is the universal vibration that connects us all.

A: the waking state of the mind
U: the dream state of the mind
M: the deep sleep part of the mind

The silence after the chant represents the transcendental or super-conscious state which is the state beyond physical existence.
In short, AUM symbolizes past, present and future.
It is said that the most important part of this single syllable is the end sound mmmmmmmm, which brings its own illumination and causes the life force energy (prana) in the body to rush upward into the crown of the head.

In short, AUM symbolizes past, present and future.

Prana is described as the energy that flows through the body in the form of breath or sound. It is said to be like the electricity that runs through wires. Chanting OM creates a hymn-like sound in our heads which is very calming and meditative, and helps awaken the sixth chakra.
Would you be surprised to know that chanting OM has amazing benefits on your mind and body?

Here are just a few unexpected benefits of chanting OM:


1. OM helps reduce stress + anxiety

You detach yourself from the world when you chant this syllable, thus also detaching from distractions and to-do lists. Stress is directly correlated to a wide range of diseases. It manifests in our bodies as cancer, fat, cellulite and even rashes. When our adrenal glands are overworked due to stress, there are hundreds of side effects, from loss of appetite or sleep, weight-gain, thyroid problems and much more.
Chanting OM helps focus your mind on the here and now, which brings you out of your head and into your body, your breath, and the present moment, helping you feel more grounded, uplifted, and at peace.

2. OM is a powerful tool for manifestation

Since the sound OM is the vibration of all creation, it can also be a source of manifestation. Usually we chant OM at the beginning and/or end of a class when we set intentions for ourselves. The sound and the intention go hand in hand because of the law of attraction. What you send out into the Universe is what you receive.
When we set intentions for ourselves, (different from goals) we give ourselves space to grow and learn. Using the mantra OM is a great tool for manifesting positive things into our lives and sending out the intentions with sound and thought rather than just thinking what you want to do.

3. OM increases energy + endorphins

If you are feeling lethargic, it has been said that chanting Om (silently or out loud to yourself) for a few minutes can increase your energy levels and help you feel refreshed. This powerful syllable also balances out the hormonal secretions that cause mood swings.

4. Chanting OM strengthens your spine

Research has found that the “a” sound creates a certain kind of vibration and when verbalizing that syllable in AUM, it significantly impacts the spinal cord. All things have vibrations: thoughts, trees, humans, and of course musical instruments. When you put your hand on a speaker, you can feel the base vibration emanating from it. The vibration of AUM produces the same effect on the spinal cord. With repetition over time, chanting OM can help strengthen your spine.

5. OM helps you gain control over your emotions

Our minds are programmed to sense danger, even when danger is nowhere near. We tend to attract and internalize negative thought patterns because they are what have helped us survive in the past. Sometimes we imagine negative consequences before events have even taken place (this is the definition of worrying).
When you chant OM, you start to redirect your mind and help stop those patterns so more positive things can manifest in your life. When you notice yourself thinking negatively and can’t think of a positive thought to replace it, just turn to one syllable. OM.


6. Chant OM collectively to increase the effects

When chanted in a large group, the effects are amplified, which is why some instructors chant OM before and after class. When you have more people vibrating on this positive syllable, everything mentioned above is amplified, and it sends positive energy and lifeforce out into the world.
Some people think of OM like they think of the word “Amen.” It is a symbol of the divine within us all. OM is the sound of the Universe. Everything is connected, and OM just reminds us of our true nature in sound form.

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An Arizona native, Jesse finds peace within her yoga practice, and spreads light through her yoga teaching and writing. She loves connecting with herself and others through meditation, asana, and a healthy lifestyle. You can find Jesse traveling the world, writing about inspiration, and taste-testing every sushi restaurant ever.

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