As yoga and meditation have gained popularity over the years, many people have grown comfortable using the terminology accompanying these practices. For instance, maybe you already know that “namaste” means “the light in me bows to the light in you,” and that “asana” refers to “sitting posture.” But what exactly is the meaning of Om, the soothing, vibrational sound often chanted during yoga and meditation?
Before diving into all things Om, a quick reminder: Yoga and meditation, in general, are thought to have originated nearly 5,000 years ago, with roots across Asia, the Middle East, Northern Africa, and South America, before finding their “fullest expression” as Vedic Sanskrit (an ancient Indo-European language) practices and Buddhist teachings in India, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
In other words, yoga has a very rich history, including the meaning of terms such as Om. By taking the time to learn this history, you can better appreciate the meaning, importance, and power of Om—and, ultimately, learn how to use Om appropriately and respectfully in your own yoga or meditation practice.
Here’s a peek at the history behind Om, the meaning of Om, and how Om can be used in yoga and meditation.