What is ॐ ?

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration” – Nikola Tesla



    Sound is the essence of all things, without it, nothing can exist. There is a large misconception that AUM (or more commonly seen written in it’s symbol ॐ) is religious. On the contrary, it is the most universal syllable because it neither refers to any particular religion nor God. AUM is the primal sound of the universe that contains all sounds in itself. It is said that it was the cosmic sound which initiated the creation of the universe. As Desikachar says in 'Heart of Yoga', with the sound of OM we say everything.


Composed of three syllables, the word has many interpretations. Of all the meanings, each letter has it's own representation, while the word/symbol as a whole brings them together for a greater understanding. Aum represents the union of the mind, body, and spirit that is at the heart of yoga. It is the constant waking state, the dream state, the dreamless sleep state, and the state of transcendence. The depiction of the three stages of yogic discipline with the goal of samadhi (superconscious of meditative state); asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath work), and pratyahara (control of the senses). Masculine energy, feminine energy, of neuter, and all creation together. These are just a few examples of ways for interpretation.

    AUM is a mantra - a tool designed to awaken the mind from its habitual sleep of ignorance. Either repeated aloud or silently throughout the mind throughout the day, a mantra is the seed of intention. The rhythm of repetition helps to bring one to a state of meditation from this intention. When chanted, AUM produces a vibration within us that resonates in tune with the true Self. It has been proven to reduce mental stress, help with depression, improve focus & concentration, and calm the mind. This frequency is found throughout everything in nature, when chanted with a group, can help bring an understanding of how we are all interconnected.

    What I find most interesting about AUM is how the word resonates throughout the body

when chanted. Each syllable triggers subtle energy and is channeled throughout the body starting in the stomach and moving up the spine, through the throat and nasal passages, up and into the brain. The article “Seeking the Unstruck Sound” by David Gordon suggests that the ending silence opens the doors from the constant waking state, the dream state, the dreamless sleep state – as described earlier as an interpretation of AUM – to the state of transcendence.

    To know the real power of AUM is to experience it within yourself, as well as all around you. This is one of my favorite parts of yoga classes, chanting with the room, feeling the vibrations come together. Understanding the importance and meaning of AUM has brought me into a deeper connection with my practice and the oneness of all living beings. A friendly reminder that turning inward and allowing yourself to feel your natural subtle energy can help bring contentment. So, the next time you find yourself being asked to join in on a deep breath with an exhaled AUM - relax and allow yourself to feel the good vibrations.

Justine Melville
Yoga Instructor 


Michelle Deer