What Does Om Mean?
It's not unusual to find om icons in yoga studios, on clothing, in artwork, and even used as tattoos. The physical symbol is known as an omkar. In Hindu, om is considered to be the holiest word, because it is the sound, or essence, of the universe.
When we chant om, also known as aum, in yoga practice, it is a way to acknowledge our connection to every living thing around us and to the universe as a whole.
How to Pronounce It
As you chant om, you'll make a long "O" sound, as you do when you pronounce home and phone. Aum is a popular spelling variation, as is ohm, but the sound doesn't change.
How Chanting Om Helps
Whether om is chanted as a mantra in meditation, at the open and close of yoga practice, or whenever you feel unhappy, practitioners believe you will be uplifted. You are removed from your solo state of mind, and access the power within the universe to reach a state of higher consciousness.
Om Mani Padme Hum
This is an extension of the basic om chant. One interpretation is that it means, "The Jewel is in the Heart of the Lotus":
- Om symbolizes the imperfect body, mind, and speech of the practitioner and the quest for the enlightened self and spirit - a Buddha.
- Mani is jewel, and represents the intention to be enlightened.
- Padme is the lotus, or wisdom.
- Hum is indivisibility.
As a Reminder
The om symbol is not just associated with the Hindu religion. Many people use the impression as a reminder of the universal connection. It is not considered sacrilegious to use the symbol on everyday items, such as this neti pot.
Explaining the Om Icon
Artists may interpret the om icon in a number of ways. The symbol can appear in any color, be produced in any material, or be transferred to any surface. But the design remains the same:
- The large curve at the bottom of the icon represents the dream state.
- The curve in the middle is dreamless sleep.
- The upper curve is an individual in a waking state.
- The crescent shape at the top is the veil of illusion.
- The dot within the crescent represents a being in the transcendental state. When our spirits pass through the veil onto transcendental awareness, the human releases other forms of existence.
Chanting a mantra featuring om is an integral component of Pravana Yoga, also called Om Yoga. The practice also incorporates meditation and structured breathing exercises.