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Om Explained


The Symbol

of Yoga


 is a representation of us as humans
and our relationship with the Universe



            The top curve of the symbol represents OUR CONSCIOUS SELF

        ie what we think we are!


        The bottom curve represents OUR SUBCONSCIOUS


        The dot represents what, in yoga, we call “ultimate reality”

ie where we wish to be:  OUR REAL SELF, our natural state, free of the ego, free of fears and desires, in a state of deep contentment and lovingness.  Depending upon individual beliefs this may therefore represent union with God.


The crescent represents the layer(s) of illusion (maya) that lie between us and our real self.  These layers are what we dissolve through yoga.


The wavy line represents that blissful state experienced for instance when we are in true meditation or dreamless sleep or that brief spell often experienced in deep relaxation just prior to falling asleep.


Chanting Om

Some people love chanting together, others prefer not to so when we do this students who would rather not do it at all
may swap into another class.

Associated Sounds


The top curve represents the sound "aaahhh"


The lower curve represents the sound "ooohhh" (as in home)


The wavy line represents the sound "mmmmmm"




Aaahhh     the sound comes from the back of the mouth

               letting the vibrations be felt in the depths of the body


Ooohhh     the sound comes from the middle of the mouth

               letting the vibrations be felt in the chest and throat


Mmmm      the sound is made with the lips closed, from the abdomen

letting the vibrations be felt in the whole head.


The mmmmmmmmmmmmm sound is usually twice as long as ooohhh but your intuition will guide you.  Let the sound be steady and smooth.  The sound is not made for others to listen to but only for you to become absorbed in, so, release the sound effortlessly, like the flowers giving their scent freely.  When you relax and are totally absorbed in it you will find it becomes, as described in the Dhyanabindu Upanishad, a continuous glide “as uninterrupted as the flow of oil and as long as the sound of a bell”.




When preparing to chant om we precede this with the following sounds for their benefits:


Iiiiii       (pronounced as in marine) to vitalize the whole nervous system

Aaaa    (as in after) because it has a beneficial effect on the liver thus the blood

Oooo   (as in home) because this benefits the heart and the solar plexus


As a result of regularly chanting Iiii, Aaaa, Oooo then Ommm the voice becomes crystal-clear, pleasant to listen to, firm and self-confident.  States of anxiety disappear and there is a conscious manifestation of the human spirit.


The Om Legend



A         symbolizes Brahma, the Creator


O         symbolizes Vishnu, the Preserver

M         symbolizes Shiva, the Destroyer*

OM, or AOM, all 3 together symbolize Brahman

The legend is that Vishnu, the Preserver, the soul and life of the Universe, 1,000 eyed and omniscient, was reclining on his couch (the body of the great serpent Sasha or Ananta representing endless time) on the night of being.


Brahma, the great creator of the world of being asked him who he was.  This resulted in an argument over who was greater.


Suddenly there arose before them a huge pillar of fire and light, so astonished were they that they forgot their quarrel and agreed to search for the end of so magnificent and wonderful a thing.


Brahma went up for 1,000 years but could not find the top

Vishnu went down for 1,000 years but could not find the base.

Then the pillar opened and Shiva, whose nature is joy, appeared.  Having demonstrated his superiority he explained that they were three functions of one supreme, Shiva being the chief, and that all three were to work together in a new world until it was completed.


Shiva, the Dissolver or Destroyer, can sometimes be understood by the following:


We walk to stop walking (having arrived)

We think to stop thinking (having reached the solution)

We live to stop living (why is the mystery)


        the way sand is destroyed in the process of being made into glass.

To a Christian, Om can equally well symbolize “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God” and the Triumvirate, God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.   Whatever your beliefs, just let your mind be filled with something that for you represents all that is pure, good, compassionate and uplifting (and if that’s your favourite auntie that’s fine!).




With thanks to Ray Hills for his wonderful, sensitive, inspirational tuition,

to Uma Krishnamurthy for beautiful spiritual teachings and giving meaning to the Sanskrit and to Selvarajan Yesudian for his part in bringing it all together.

         Yoga in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire                 

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