Blog Post

What You Should Know About Yoga's OM Chant

The Om symbol

The Om chant, which is often chanted three times at the start and finish of a yoga session, is far more than just a random sound. It is actually very complex and has deep meaning in the Hindu religion.

According to the Hindu America Foundation (HAF), "The word Om is defined by Hindu scripture as being the primordial sound of creation. It is the original vibration of the universe. From this first vibration, all other vibrations are able to manifest."

Pronounced a-u-m, these three sounds are said to represent the three states of consciousness:

  • A is the waking state
  • U is the dream state
  • M is the state of deep sleep
The three sounds are also believed to represent the various Hindu "trinities":
  • Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (creator, preserver, destroyer)
  • The past, present, and future
  • The waking, dreaming, and dreamless states
  • Heaven, earth, and underworld
As the HAF explains, the use of the Om sound is important because sound vibration is known to significantly impact a person's physical, emotional, and mental state . By chanting Om, "we can align our frequency with that of the original universal frequency, which is essential in spiritual practice. As an iron rod becomes as hot as fire when it comes in contact with its flames, a person can spiritualize their life by staying in contact with the spiritual energy of the Absolute."

The purpose is to rely upon this transcendental sound to transform the mind and the senses. "By chanting Om, the mind becomes aligned with the breath, which enables a person to get into an elevated state of consciousness called samadhi. The activity of attaining samadhi brings the materially absorbed mind under control, which enables a person to have one-pointed focus towards spiritual realization."

Samadhi is another name for an altered state of consciousness which leaves us vulnerable to spiritual influences the same way that we're vulnerable to suggestion while in a hypnotic trance.

The article goes on to say that yogis commonly conclude their meditations with the chanting of Om much like Christians utter "Amen" "to invoke the energy of the Divine at the end of prayer."

However, this is not why Christians say "Amen" at the end of prayer or when receiving Communion. Far from being a chant, the word "amen" means "so be it" and is uttered as a statement of faith, not to invoke some kind of energy.

The bottom line is that it's a mistake to trivialize the Om chant regardless of how seriously (or not) it's presented in a yoga class. It has a very deep and detailed spiritual meaning that the discerning Christian needs to take seriously.

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