Why we OM at Up Yoga
At the start of every class at Up Yoga, as you stand at the top of your mat with your feet facing twelve o'clock and your hands at heart center, you are asked to Om three times.
But what does “Om” mean, exactly? And why do we do it?
My first time practicing at Up Yoga, I was unaware I’d be asked to Om. When the yogis around me suddenly broke into a synchronized chant, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. In fact, I was a little turned off from Om at first, because I didn’t understand the significance of the mantra.
If you’re like me and you’ve stood on your mat in confusion while people around you chant “Om” before and after class, you’re in luck. We’re breaking down the meaning behind the mantra we use to ignite and wrap Up our practice everyday at Up Yoga.
What does Om mean?
Om is the energetic undercurrent of the universe. It’s the frequency at which every living thing operates; the energy that connects us all to one another. Om is a reminder that we are more alike than we are different. As one ancient text says, “This whole world is nothing but Om.”
Om is one of the oldest and most widely used mantras in the world. It’s considered the root from which all other mantras emerge. Pantanjali, the father of classical yoga, taught that when we chant “Om” while contemplating its meaning, we prepare our consciousness for meditation.
Four Measures of Om
Although the mantra is commonly spelled “Om,” it actually consists of three letters: a, u, and m. In Sanskrit, when an initial ‘a’ is followed by the letter ‘u,’ the two coalesce into a long ‘o’ sound, thus giving us “Om.” Om has three sounds, as follows:
Ah (Like, “Ah, I love it!”) The first part of the mantra represents our waking state, A.K.A. the subjective consciousness of the outer world.
U (“Oh,” like the end of ‘Cheerio’) is our dreaming state, or the consciousness of our inner thoughts, dreams, and memories.
M (Think, “Mmm, that smells so good!”) M is the dreamless state of deep sleep and the experience of ultimate unity. It’s common to accentuate the “oh” sound and skimp on “m.” Try not to miss “m.”
By contemplating and chanting each of these sounds, we travel through the three states of “ordinary consciousness” into Om’s fourth and final measure, the anusvara (aftersound), “Om.” Upon finishing the chant, the vibrations of Om bounce off the studio walls until silence encapsulates the room and brings with it feelings of tranquility, fearlessness, and bliss.
Why We Om at Up Yoga
At Up Yoga, our mission is to empower you to generate connections, take action, and be a leader in your own life. We Om to build community, connect with ourselves and to one another, and to signify the beginning and end of our practice.
We always Om three times because it allows us to settle into the sound of the mantra. Sometimes, the first and second Om can be a little rusty as we shake off the cobwebs and rediscover our voice. “I see it as one Om for myself, one for my practice, and one for my community,” says Up Yoga teacher and studio owner, Lindsay.
We prefer a loud and proud “Om” at Up Yoga. We invite you to get out of your comfort zone and let your voice be heard. When you Om with oomph, you set yourself Up for a powerful practice. Why hold back? In the words of Baron Baptiste, “Om like you mean it.”
Everything is Om
Om is about establishing connection. As you close down your eyes, bring your hands to heart center, and take a deep breath, remember the power om can bring to your practice. Not only does it set you Up for success, chanting “Om” connects you with your community.
We want to hear your voice! Sign Up for class and om with us. View our schedule here.