Although yoga is a popular form of workout today, did you know that its ancient origins also focused on spiritual balance and mental wellbeing? And did you know that the ancient yogis used yoga symbols to further the spiritual efficacy of their yoga workout?
Whether you take yoga only for its physical and mental benefits or seek to develop a deeper spiritual state and connection with everything, learning about yoga symbols will help you better appreciate the depth and richness of yoga.
11 Yoga Symbols and What They Mean
Symbols have power because they hold meaning. Yoga symbols are anciently believed to help yogis acquire the highest spiritual energy possible. Even if spirituality may not be as deeply appreciated in the modern world, yogis benefit from learning about yoga symbols. These symbols give yogis a deeper understanding of the purpose and the proper techniques of yoga.
The eleven symbols in this list are the most common and most important in the ancient practice of yoga. This list is far from exhaustive; the list only incorporates the most popular and familiar yoga symbols.
The Om/Aum Symbol
The symbol derives its name from the believed sound of the universe, om. The logo represents one of the most famous yoga mantras, “om,” the sound many yogis make during meditation to maintain focus. Additionally, ancient yogis say “om” before or after yoga asana; the sound is also made after Sanskrit prayers or before sacred verses or names.
The symbol aum can be broken down into three meanings:
A (aahh): represents the waking state or the creation of the universe and the joy of existing.
U (oohh): symbolizes the dreaming state or the spiritual existence beyond the physical body.
M (mmm): is the sleeping state which represents the spiritual powers of the universe and their connectivity.
Together, the yoga symbol aum means pure consciousness and bliss. It is believed to provide calmness and focus. Additionally, ancient yogis believe it opens the third eye (part of the Chakras symbol), paving the way for a stronger connection with the universe.
The Mandala Symbol
The mandala symbol may be the most intricate and colorful in yoga. It signifies harmony, balance, and wholeness. It is one of the most widely-used symbols (in fact, it is one of the most recurring symbols in the movie Doctor Strange), but its meaning is mostly unknown.
The outer circles of the mandala mean the entire universe, while the inner squares and details represent all realities on Earth. The intricate details of the symbol mean to include all aspects of existence.
The mandala’s purpose is to remind its users that everything is one and, while complicated, the unity of everything is detailed yet intricately beautiful.
The Lotus Flower Symbol
As a yoga symbol, the lotus flower generally signifies wakefulness and divine enlightenment. But in both Hinduism and Buddhism, lotus flowers represent different traits based on their colors.
Pink lotus flowers mean purity, love, and loyalty. Purple lotuses represent awareness and the unification of the mind with the universe. The red lotus is romance, domination, or power; yellow or gold is becoming enlightened; blue represents mindfulness of the soul; the white lotus symbolizes the purity of thoughts and spirit.
The closed lotus is often used to symbolize the time before enlightenment, while an open lotus shows enlightenment.
The Hamsa/Evil Eye Symbol
The Hamsa symbol, also called the five fingers or hand of Fatima, shows the connection of the Chakras and the five senses. The Hamsa symbol is often referred to as the Evil Eye because it is believed to ward off negative energy.
Each finger in the symbol represents a chakra and element. The thumb is the solar plexus chakra (fire element); the index finger is the heart chakra (air element); the middle finger is the throat chakra (ethereal elements); the ring finger is the root chakra (earth element); the pinky is the sacral chakra (water element).
The Buddha symbol signifies obtaining Bodhi – which is enlightenment or wakefulness. Bodhi encourages excellent intellect, high morals, and temperance. Someone who obtained Bodhi is a spiritual guide to others.
The Buddha symbol teaches three primary things: don’t be ignorant, avoid hate, avoid anger, and maintain balance or moderation in all things.
There are seven primary chakras in the body. They are the base or root chara (Muladhara), sacral (Swadhisthana), solar plexus (Manipura), heart (Anahata), throat (Vishuddha), third eye (Ajna), and the crown chakra (Sahasrara).
Each chakra symbolizes different physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of us. To achieve peace, yogis balance all the chakras through many means, such as yoga and meditation.
The Chin Mudra
The chin mudra (ok hand) is one of the most recognizable hand formations of yoga. Ancient yogis believe that the mudra assists in the body’s energy flow, paving the way for healing.
The thumb means supreme consciousness (Brahman), while the thumb represents human consciousness (atman). The chin mudra signifies the unification of the human and supreme consciousness. The symbol reminds yogis to seal their soul with the supreme soul.
108 is a unique number for yoga and religion. The number 108 is believed to represent the wholeness of the universe. The distance of the Earth from the sun is 108 times greater than Earth’s diameter; the sun’s diameter is 108 times that of Earth’s; there are more instances where the number 108 is present in the universe.
Due to that fact, yogis believe that there’s a special relationship between chakras and cosmic geometry. Buddhist mantra is repeated 108 times, beaded necklaces feature 108 beads, and there are more appearances of 108 in yoga practice.
Namaste translates to “the light in me acknowledges the light in you,” with the word light meaning soul. Namaste is the ultimate sign of respect – yogis chant the word to recognize the connection among themselves. It is also a sign of gratitude for the spiritual bond yogis share.
Ganesh is the Hindu Lord of Good Fortune and Lord of Beginnings; he secures prosperity and hope. Yogis practice under this yoga symbol to bring good luck to them. He brings good luck by trampling down the spiritual and physical obstacles to the 4th state.
The yoga symbol Ganesh encourages yogi to improve every aspect of their lives.
Shiva is the Hindu god of destruction. But the Shiva Linga mudra symbolizes the integration of Shiva and Shakti, the masculine force and the feminine energy. This yoga symbol is believed to keep the yogi healthy and energetic.
Learn More About Yoga
Knowing the meanings of yoga symbols is one thing; practicing yoga is another. Learn a variety of yoga styles and train your body and mind to be healthier. InBalance Wellness Center is the best yoga center in Utah; contact us and begin your journey towards the better you.