Do you end your yoga class or practice with the ‘Aum’ now and then? How do you feel about it? Do you feel awkward and inhibited while chanting the sacred sound Aum? Or is it part of your standard yoga practice and do you feel incomplete without it?
Either way, it is interesting to know more about the Aum. Personally, I quite like chanting and I don’t have any problems with inhibition or awkwardness. As a teenager while in my mother’s yoga class, I was always curious how long I could make my ‘Aums’. For some reason, the chanting brought me in contact with something deeper, something steady, still and strong.
Aum is the most sacred of holy words, the supreme mantra and symbolizes and embodies Brahman, the Absolute Reality. According to the Hindu and yoga philosophy, Aum is the primordial sound from which the whole universe was created. Another word for Aum is pranava, which means ‘the best praise or the best prayer’. The Aum mantra is constantly repeated in unison with the breath and the purpose is to become free from suffering and limitation. The symbol AUM is composed of four elements: the first three are vocal sounds: A, U, and M. The fourth sound, unheard, is the silence which begins and ends the audible sound, the silence which surrounds it.
- The letter ‘A’ resonates in the center of the mouth and symbolizes the conscious or waking state. This is the level of mechanics, science, logical reason and the lower three chakras.
- The letter ‘U’ transfers the sense of vibration to the back of the mouth and symbolizes the dream state. This is the realm of dreams, divinities, imagination and the inner world.
- The letter ‘M’ is created while humming with lips gently closed and resonates forward in the mouth and buzzes throughout the head. This sound represents the dreamless sleep state of the mind and spirit. Only pure consciousness exists.
- The entire symbol stands for the fourth state, which combines all these states and transcends them. This is the state of Samādhi.
The three letters A, U and M also symbolize the absence of desire, fear and anger, while the whole symbol stands for the perfect man, one whose wisdom is firmly established in the divine. They represent the three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter and the three tenses – past, present and future – while the entire symbol represents all creation together with the Creator.