We chant Om in the beginning of a yoga class, but what does Om mean? In the Jivamukti Yoga chant book, this explanation is given: Om is the original and most powerful mantra. It is the primal sound of the Divine in its essential manifestation. In the beginning was the word and the word was Om.
Mantra is a Sanskrit word where man means mind and tra means cross over. It is that which crosses over the mind, that which has the power to transform, that which can transcend. I saw a video that showed a plate with random particles on top. When a sound is made, those particles will start to form circles, geometric shapes and flower patterns not very different from what we observe in a kaleidoscope. As the sound changes, so the form changes. In short, it shows that sound is shape, and that vibrations create material reality.
Practice using Om as a mantra. As you move through the peaks and troughs of the asana practice, keep the breath steady, the intention pure, and the mantra consistent. Use Om to reset again and again, every moment letting go of regrets of the past and releasing worries about the future. We may find that we tend to forget our intentions or mantra when things are difficult, and yet it is during these times that we most need to remember it.
What we repeat to ourselves becomes a mantra. It requires no special words as our vibrations are universal. Many if not all of us find yoga because there is something we would like to change. We would like to be free. We want suffering to end. We may have relationships that have yet to be healed, and sometimes we mistakenly think that we need the other person to heal this disconnection. But we can heal, even if this person is no longer in our lives, even if this person has already left his or her physical body. We can go through the healing process by saying a mantra, by stating our intention, by mindfully choosing our words. We can think of this person and say "I love you" or "I forgive you" or "I am sorry" or "Thank you" or "I understand" or anything else that may feel personal and sincere. In the end, love is our mantra. We merely have different expressions of it.
When we chant Om at the end of the practice, pay attention to the vibrations the sound creates. You may feel tingling sensations in your body. You may start to hear your own voice uniting with the voice of others. You may have a transcendent experience of what is called bhav, the Divine mood, and catch a glimpse of the creative force that is the vibration that shaped the world. In the beginning was the word and the word was Om.