Aum: the Sound of the Beginning of the Universe
If you’ve ever visited a yoga studio session, you’ve most probably done thorough relaxation at the end of it with the chanting of the aum mantra. But have you ever wondered what it means and where it comes from?
Aum, or om in the Western tradition, is described, among other ways, as the original sound of the universe, with its three letters representing creation, preservation and destruction. Its vibrations are believed to have a powerful effect on the state of mind, promoting calmness and relief of worries and anxiety.
Moreover, the chanting of the aum mantra is said to raise self-awareness and draw your attention into your inner spiritual world.
It is important to learn the proper way to chant the aum mantra in order to fully enjoy all of its benefits.
First of all let’s learn the right pronunciation. Aum should rhyme with the word dome. It starts with a nasalized vowel [o:] that progresses into [u:] and is finished with a long vibrating [m]. Aum is pronounced on one deep exhale.
Now that you’re acquainted with the phonetics, let’s move on to the visualization, or feeling of the sound. As you start the chanting, imagine how the first vowel appears in the middle of your chest. Then it grows into the second vowel, gradually moving up your throat. And finally, you should feel the last consonant vibrating inside the top of your head.
The movement of the aum mantra through your body is often associated with chakras, or energy centers, and their colors. As you master the art of aum chanting, you could also add color to your visualization. Imagine that the first vowel is born in a green color in the heart chakra, then transforms into the second vowel and a light-blue color of the throat chakra, and finally the final consonant vibrates in the top of your head in a deep blue or violet color of the brow and crown chakras.
The power of the aum mantra is believed to be so great that even plain observance of the aum sign can have a positive effect. You can also chant the mantra silently inside your mind!
Spoken or written, the aum mantra is one of the yoga essentials and one of the most important stages in the true understanding of yoga.