Symbols are a huge part of our lives whether we take notice of them or not, and in yoga they are very prevalent and hold a lot of meaning. Yoga symbols, like quotes, are an important part of human communication and are meant to convey a message, idea, concept, experience and/or spiritual belief in a visual form.
Also spelt “Ohm” or “Aum” this symbol represents the sound of the universe and can energize your chakras. Om is also considered a mantra. This chant unifies all words and sounds in the human language.
The sounds and vibrations created while chanting om can calm your mind and central nervous system and produce feelings of peace, tranquility and unity and will align your mind, body and soul. It can also reduce stress, improves concentration and can also support a healthy sleep cycle.
Each part of the Om symbol has a very specific meaning.
The dot located at the top represents the Absolute State or the 4th state of consciousness. This state of consciousness is where you connect with the divine and experience absolute serenity and tranquility. The 4th state is the ultimate goal of spiritual awakening.
The crescent shape directly below the dot represents illusion. This part represents anything that gets in the way of you and the absolute state. To the left is the crescent are two curves.
The bottom represents the waking state and the top represents the unconscious state. The waking state curve is the largest of the curves because it is the most recognized state of consciousness. This is where we experience things with in the realm of the 5 senses.
Above the waking state is the unconscious state, also known as the deep sleep state. We only reach this state of sleep when everything subconsciously stops, even dreams.
Between these two curves is one last curve that signifies the dream state. The dream state is exactly what it sounds like. It is what we experience before the deep sleep and represents our dreams.
The Lotus Flower, also known as a Water Lily, is an important symbol in many cultures. There is a running theme within the Hindu, Buddhist and Egyptian cultures pertaining to the Lotus. This special flower rises from dark, muddy waters and blossoms into a gorgeous and alluring flower.
The really unique thing about this flower is the way it blossoms. The core of the flower and the pedals never touch the dirty water it grows in.
As a symbol this represents the human journey of rising above any adverse or unfortunate circumstances and into a self aware and spiritually enlightened human being.
Hindu Culture: Within the Hindu culture the Lotus specifically represents
beauty – especially that of the female eyes, fertility, prosperity, spirituality and eternity.
Certain gods like Laxmi – the god of prosperity and Brahma – the god of creation
It is sometimes used as an offering to the Hindu gods as well as a part of Ayurveda medicine practices.
Buddhist Culture: The Buddhist culture uses the Lotus to symbolize
Buddhism really emphasizes purity due to the way the flower blossoms through the dark, dirty water unblemished. Buddhists put significance into the color of the flower, especially in paintings and other works of art.
A blue lotus is typically representative of common sense and wisdom
A white lotus is purity
A purple lotus represents mysticism and the 8-fold path to Buddhism
A pink lotus is the “true” lotus of Buddha
A red lotus signifies the heart.
Egyptian Culture: Egyptian culture places a lot of significance on life after death and the lotus is very indicative of this. Throughout Egyptian history the lotus represented rebirth and reincarnation. The Egyptians noticed how the flower disappears at night, only to reappear the next day – untarnished. They associated this with the rise and fall of the sun as well as life and death. It is said that the Egyptian Book of the Dead has spells and rituals that help transform you into a lotus after you die. It is also thought that the lotus connected and bonded northern and southern Egypt and represented unity between the two.
The Lotus is important to many cultures and religions. It is a beautiful and perfect representation of our spiritual journey from darkness into the light.
The Hamsa is an important symbol in many cultures and has several interpretations. It can typically be found as a piece of jewelry or in paintings and other artwork.They all have similar meanings but vary slightly. In general, the Hamsa stands for protection against the evil eye and is meant to bring health, wealth and fertility.
You will recognize the Hamsa as a hand with an eye in the center of the palm. It is always depicted as a hand with the 3 middle fingers extended. The way the thumb and pinky finger lay varies although, they will always be symmetrical and can have different meanings.
Most cultures use the Hamsa to evoke the hand of god and help to avoid negative influences. These interpretations are pretty universal and also represents purity, spiritual awakening and faithfulness.
In Jewish Culture: With in the Jewish culture, the Hamsa is heavily symbolic of the number 5.
The 5 fingers represents the 5 books in the Torah and the five categories of sacrifices and offerings talked about in the Torah which comprise of burnt, sin, trespass, grain, and peace.
There is also the five parts of the human soul: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual and God.
Another correlation with the number 5 and God is that the 5th letter of the Hebrew alphabet is Het which is also one of God’s holy names.
In Buddhist and Hindu Culture: In Buddhism and Hinduism, the five fingers are symbolic of the chakras and the 5 natural elements.
The pinky finger represents the sacral chakra and the water element.
The thumb represents the solar plexus and the fire element.
The middle finger is a representation of the throat chakra and the celestial elements.
The forefinger symbolizes the heart chakra with the air element.
The ring finger is a symbol of the root chakra and the earth element.
In Sanskrit, mandala means “circle” and is a direct note to the never ending circle of life and is meant to serve as a tool on your spiritual journey through this life. A mandala is typically used as a tool for meditation to help reveal someone’s path in life or to tell a story of where someone has already been. There are two main ways to use a mandala for meditation.
As a piece of artwork or photo you can focus on a mandala and follow the designs, patterns and shapes. As you do this, your thoughts will calm down and allow you to understand the journey you have already been on or to show you guidance for a future journey.
Creating your own mandala drawing or coloring in a blank image has been a super popular activity in recent years because of its calming and relaxing benefits.
All mandalas are visually appealing and alluring. Colors used in mandalas also serve a purpose.
Red = strength
Pink = love, femininity
Orange = creativity, transformation, self- awareness, intuition
Yellow = learning, wisdom, laughter, happiness
Green = physical healing, physical ability, love of nature
Blue = emotional healing, inner peace, meditation
Purple = anything spiritual
Black = mystery, deep thinking, individuality
Mandalas represent wholeness, unity and harmony. They should always be symmetrical with radial balance. They should also always be intriguing and draw a person into them, especially using numerous and vibrant colors.
The image of Buddha is one of the most recognized symbols in the yoga world. The original Buddha was called Siddartha Gautama before his enlightenment meditation under the fig tree, which is still a sacred and protected site.
Today, Buddha, or the image of Buddha, represents someone who has attained “Bodhi” and thus can be a spiritual guide for others. Bodhi is the ideal state of intellectual and ethical perfection.
Buddha is also called the enlightened one who knows everything – past, present and future and has been awakened from ignorance to see things from an unbiased perception.
Someone who can be called Buddha
Has unbounded compassion
Is completely impartial
Non judgmental and does not discriminate
Loves all living beings
Has wisdom and power
Has high morals and self control
Is honest and generous
Is hard to anger and is non violent
The Buddha is an important symbol for many people. It can remind you of the 3 tenants of Buddhism which are not to be ignorant, not to hate others and not to get angry. Buddha can also remind you to practice moderation. His last words to his followers were, “All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”
The Number 108
In most religions around the world, past and present, the number 108 holds some sort of sacred significance.
The number represents wholeness, spiritual completeness and signifies the basis of all creation.