A mantra creates a vibration through the body, different sounds create different vibrations so impact the body in various ways. The mantra OM is believed to be the sound of the universe, the first sound of creation and is said to be the foundation for where all other sounds/mantras emerge.
Yoga means union, that is the bringing together of all aspects of your being ( for example physical, emotional, energetic, your breath) with The Divine. Chanting the mantra OM is believed to connect you to the energy of The Divine.
From a Chakra (the 7 natural energy centres we have running through our spine) perspective chanting OM rises up and awakens each Chakra in turn. When you break down the sound of OM, you actually get A U M. A vibrates through your lower chakras, the root and sacral. Chanting U sends a vibration through your solar plexus and heart. M finishes off in your throat chakra and third eye.
When you chant Om loudly it can be energising, but when you chant it softly it is calming.
You can also silently chant it to yourself inwardly for meditation, which helps to focus and calm the mind.
The proportion of how long you chant the AUUUUU bit to the MMMMM bit will affect how you feel. In the morning it is good to do the AUUUU longer for energising you for the day ahead, but in the evening it’s better to make the MMMMM longer as it has a calming, tranquillising affect to prepare you for meditation or sleep.
When you hear people chant Om Shanti Shanti Shanti at the end, this means peace to all. Shanti means peace.
Also the sound vibration of chanting OM in a yoga class really brings everyone in the room together and helps to calm busy minds. I’ve chanted OM in a mums & toddlers class before, all the children stop what they are doing and go silent, it’s amazing!
If you have any more yoga related questions please do email me and I’ll be happy to answer them. firstname.lastname@example.org