There are few more intimidating things for a first-time yoga student than having to chant OM at the end of class. Some people fear it will go against their religion, others snicker at the ultra Yogi stereotype it embodies and others still are terrified of hearing the sound of their own voice.
To set the religious record straight, Om isn't the name of some obscure Yoga God. In fact, it isn't even a word at all - it's a sound.
Through cymatics, the study of the effect of sound vibration on physical matter, we can actually see the beautiful elliptical patterns that it creates, like in this video posted by Grammy nominated composer, musician and researcher, Steven Halpern.
Pronounced AUM, it symbolizes the circle of life: creation, preservation and destruction. Hip Hop artist, Mc Yogi has his own acronym for the word: Almighty Universal Magnetic.
Whatever the meaning assigned to the sound, the experience of chanting OM speaks for itself. The feeling of calm and balance in the mind, good vibrations through the body and connection to community is palpable and very powerful.
So, next time you're in class, let go of any self-conscious need to perform or "sing", close your eyes and tune into the beautiful world around you.