Whether you are new to the practice of yoga or not, you have likely seen some lovely symbols in yoga literature or in your yoga studio. Maybe it was an intriguing OM or the lotus flower. So, what do they mean and what is their significance within the practice of yoga? I recently came across a blog post Spiritual Yoga Symbols And What They Mean which discusses these increasingly widespread emblems.
Let’s look at some of the most popular: Mala Beads, OM, the Lotus, and Namaste – and what is their implication and importance in yoga.
Mala beads, also referred to as japa beads, are traditionally seen as a type of necklace worn by yogis, or held in their hands as they engage in meditation. But the beads have more than a decorative purpose. They are used in the practice of Japa Meditation, a personal meditation that involves sitting or walking and softly repeating a mantra while your fingers keep track by moving from one bead to the next.
This is a very ancient form of yoga meditation and is highly recommended in today’s busy and over-stimulated atmosphere. I teach how to practice Japa Meditation in my Easy Meditation For Everyone Kit which also includes a set of japa beads.
The transcendental sound vibration Om is the principle word in the yoga literatures. It is the sound representation of the Supreme Soul, the cause of all causes, and the origin of everything animate and inanimate.
This sacred mantra Om is often chanted at the beginning and end of yoga classes and meditation practices. Another example is the five-syllable mantra “Om Hari Om” which you will find chanted at the end of some of my yoga workouts.
Beautiful silk shawls with embroidered Om are also available on my website. These are quite practical for keeping you warm while sitting during Japa Meditation, or after your yoga class as your body is cooling down.
The lotus is not only the national flower of India, it is a well-known and exquisite symbol in yoga. The lotus flower grows from the mud on the bottom of a lake. The yogis describe that the lotus rises untouched out of the dimness of the muddy water and into the sunlight. Similarly, through meditation, a person can live in this world untouched by its anxieties and feel the warmth of spiritual happiness.
That something so beautiful, pure, and luminous can rise above darkness is an appropriate symbol of yoga meditation.
Namaste is a greeting in ancient Sanskrit that is still used in India today and is growing in use all around the world due to the influence of yoga.
Namaste translates to mean that I, the individual soul within the body, recognizes and respectfully greets you, the individual soul within your body. I was inspired to write a song titled Namaste for International Yoga Day 2015, expressing the joy and meaning of Namaste.