Many Christians and Catholics become weary of yoga classes that include chanting Om, but there is no need to be afraid of the sound!
"Om" is actually a recent translation of the spelling of the sacred sound in yoga. This was derived from the visual of the symbol. Om originates from "Aum," the sacred sound, or utterance, of the universe. When chanting Om, the sounds should be made in succession of "ah" "ou" "m" spelling out aum. Om and Aum are different variations of the same word. Similarly to the spelling of "color" and "colour."
"Amen" is a huge part of the Catholic faith as well as other Christian faiths. The root of Amen is from Hebrew and later translated to Greek. In Hebrew, it means "so be it." Amen is used to conclude each Catholic prayer, and many of Jesus’ teachings, because it establishes and affirms truth (CCC 1061-4). Beyond saying Amen, the Catechism teaches that “Jesus Christ himself is the ‘Amen'” (CCC 1065).
The sacred word of Amen concludes every prayer in the Catholic religion while Aum concludes and is continually present in every yoga practice.
In his book The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda explains that the sound “Aum” is said to be what ignited the creation of the universe. Sound familiar? The beginning of the gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (NASB, John 1:1 and 3). John, the only gospel that is not synoptic, refers to Jesus as the Word throughout the gospel (see Chapter 3 of The Yoga of Jesus).
In short, the Word is Amen; Amen is Jesus; and Jesus is the Word. Aum and Amen are different translations of the same presence. They are “the Word” that created the universe.
My intent of saying om is the intent behind saying amen. I know who Jesus is and that is who I praise. Jesus will forever be my "Word" whether that be in Sanskrit, Greek, French, or Japanese. Om or Aum invite peace and stillness into a restless heart. The chant is a recognition of creation that is bigger than ourselves.
As Christians and Catholics, we must be vigilant in understanding Om and its reverence. Father Tom Ryan, founder of Christians Practicing Yoga, states, "Out of respect for the unique status of this word in the yogic tradition, a student or teacher deciding to use it would do well to do some catechesis around the word and the apophatic expression of Christian prayer to enable the Christian participants to see how their own spiritual tradition also recognizes what OM is intended to express." You can read the full article here.
Our world is full of noise and sound. The sound of Om and Amen are a gateway to serenity in our yoga and meditation practices.
Peace and Namaste,
This post has been edited since its initial publication to reflect the ever-changing and ever-learning of the author. This article contains links from partners. I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through a link.