If you’ve been to a yoga class, you’ve probably joined in for at least one OM but have you ever wondered why? Sure, it might make you feel really zen but is there another reason? To fully understand why “OM” is popular in yoga, the definition needs to be clarified which isn’t so easy. OM has so many different meanings, making the opportunities endless. However, there are a few common threads.

The literal meaning

When broken down, OM is actually A – U – M… when chanted, rather than a hard “AH” it is more like “Awww,” as it develops the lips begin to make the “O” shape which slightly changes the sound, then the “mmm.” The “A” means the waking state, the “U” the dreaming state, and the “M” is the sleep beyond dreaming. The silence after the OM is known as Turiya, or infinite consciousness. The actual symbol has the same literal meaning.

yoga om

The lower curve is the waking state (A), the middle curve is the dream state (U), and the upper curves represent the sleep beyond dreaming (M).


So how has this definition evolved?

This description is one that I appreciate and love sharing with kids: OM is the sound when you combine (or smush together!) all the sounds in the entire world. This explanation, although simple, illustrates the powerful meaning of OM: that it connects everything in the universe. 

OM is the vibration said to be present when the universe began, and still resonates with all that’s come to be. Even at a cellular level the movement of particles only seen by a microscope reflect the vibrations of “OM.” To understand this definition is to discover our true nature and the oneness we share with everything.

Try contemplating how this sacred vibration creates connection within. Better yet, try chanting it! This is the best way to experience this universal vibration and discover its true meaning for yourself.

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