From stopping on the street with the blink of red light to expressing happiness of victory with ‘V’ shaped fingers, or expressing love by drawing a heart at the end of a love note-- symbols add meaning to our lives. In yoga too, there are many symbols which play an integral role in yoga practices and, in our lives too. The symbols used in yoga can help practitioners reach a higher state of consciousness. Understanding their essence and incorporating them into your life can enhance both your yoga skills and the quality of life. Hence, it is advisable to know the meaning of certain symbols you encounter in your yoga studio and other places.
Here are 7 powerful symbols used in yoga that can change and enhance your life:
- 1. Aum or Om: Aum is one of the most sacred and holistic symbols within different spiritual traditions, and in yoga tradition too. Many yogis believe ‘Aum’ to be the first-ever uttered word. It is considered as the consciousness of the universe solidified into sound. Chanting ‘Aum’ while practicing yoga allows you to tune deeper into your body and mind, and provides greater clarity in life. In yoga, it is used to begin or end a yoga pose. The powerful sound is also used in meditation to bring clarity, tranquility, peace, and bliss. Aum is also considered as one of the most important mantras.
- 2. Mandala Symbol: Translated as ‘circle’ in Sanskrit, Mandala symbol represents ‘Universe’. Designed with colors and patterns interlaced in a delicate way, a mandala offers visuals of elements that symbolize balance, harmony, and unity of the mind, body, and soul. In meditation, using a mandala to focus on can help go deep into concentration and meditation practice. It also helps absorb the mind in spiritual practices. Mandalas come in a variety of designs, patterns, and colors, representing various aspects of life.
- 3. Lotus Flower: A beautiful flower that blooms on the surface of the water with its root deep in the mud, Lotus represents the ability of wonderful things to blossom even in the darkest of environments. It symbolizes emergence from the dark. It is a perfect reflection of a new beginning in the opposite circumstances. We all have a lotus bud inside us, which is waiting for the enlightenment to unfold at the right time.
- 4. Buddha: Buddha means ‘the awakened one’. It represents Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism. He was a prince who left his lavish life to attain enlightenment. He inspires us by reminding of a normal person who liberated himself from all the sufferings of this world and became enlightened and compassionate.
- 5. Hamsa & Evil Eye: The word ‘Hamsa’ is derived from the Hebrew word ‘hamesh’ means five, referring to the five fingers on the hand. Hamsa symbol is considered to bring happiness, health, good luck, fortune, strength, and protection. Evil Eye symbol is often represented enclosed by the symbol of hand. The symbol is considered to counteract harmful effects brought by jealousy and malice of others. Both the symbols can be found in many traditions. They can be worn as a talisman or can be hung above the front door.
- 6. Chakras: ‘Chakra’ is a Sanskrit word that means a ‘wheel or disk’. But in yoga, they have a deep meaning--they are represented as the centres of life energy present within the body. In total, there are 7 chakras in our body. Each of them has their own unique purpose and significance. Balancing these chakras will help individuals achieve harmony and peace in their life. Yoga asanas are performed to increase the flow of energy into these chakras.
- 7.Lord Ganesha: One of the most-acclaimed Hindu deities, Lord Ganesha is known to remove obstacles. Also known as the ‘king of Angels’, he is said to offer protection and guidance. His elephant head symbolizes wisdom and intelligence, small eyes symbolize the ability to see problems beforehand, one broken tusk stands for sacrifice, large ears and small mouth talks of listening more and speaking less, and big stomach represents the ability to digest both good and bads in life.
Manmohan Singh is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveler in India. He provides yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. He loves writing and reading the books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas. His strong connection with Yoga and the Himalayas has made him organize yoga, meditation and Ayurveda tours, and retreats in the Himalayas.
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