What Does Ohm Mean in Yoga?

Om is the most sacred sound in the Hindu religion.
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Om or Aum is a mantra that is often chanted at the beginning and end of yoga sessions. Om is both a sound and a symbol rich in religious meaning and depth. It is said to be both the sound of the creation of the universe, and the sound of silence. It represents both the highest level of divinity and the path to enlightenment. Om is often used as a yogic chant to calm the mind, create a peaceful setting or achieve a higher level of consciousness.


The Mandukya Upanishad, a sacred Hindu text written in 800-500 BC, presents the concept behind both the sound and the symbol. The first paragraph of the Mandukya states, “The syllable OM, which is the imperishable Brahman, is the universe. Whatsoever has existed, whatsoever exists, and whatsoever shall exist hereafter, is OM. And whatsoever transcends past, present, and future, that also is OM.” Om is thus a broad universal concept with many mystical meanings, rather than a specific definition in the traditional sense.

Om in Hindu

In the Hindu religion Om is considered a sacred sound. Many Hindus consider Om to be the first sound of creation. Hindus also believe that everything in the universe, even inorganic objects, originated in Om and are therefore alive, with a vibration based on the sound Om. According to yogic tradition, once you are able to achieve true silence within yourself, you can hear, experience and even participate in these universal vibrations. This is why Om is also considered to be the sound of silence, the silence within yourself that allows you to tune out your thoughts and listen to the world within and around you. In India, Hindus use the Om symbol throughout their daily life. They may chant it at the beginning of the day, at the beginning of a journey or before undertaking a difficult task. The symbol is an integral part of the design of all temples and family shrines.

States of Consciousness

The Om symbol is also used in meditation as a symbolic representation of the four states of consciousness. The long lower curve represents the first state of consciousness, known as Vaishvanara, which is the waking state focused on the material world. The curve that emanates from the center represents the second state of consciousness, or Taijasa, which is the dreaming state focused inward on the mind. The upper curve represents the third state of consciousness, or Prajna, which is the dreamless state revealed by deep meditation. The crescent stands for the veil of material illusion that seekers must pass before achieving the fourth and final state, represented by the dot in the upper right. This is Turiya, the transcendental self, and the ultimate goal of Hindu meditation.

Om in Yoga

The Om symbol is a popular icon for yoga practitioners, appearing on T-shirts, yoga mats, jewelry, tattoos and artwork. In Yogic tradition, many yoga teachers begin and end their classes by chanting Om in order to create harmony and unity between the students and teacher. Many believe that chanting Om in class or in private meditation aligns their own vibration with the sacred vibration of the universe, which provides a peaceful, calming effect and puts the practitioner in an excellent frame of mind for yoga posing.

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