6 Common Yoga-Inspired Tattoos and Their Meanings Explained

Roo Frith
By  | 

Tattoos, tattoos, everywhere!
 
You can’t go far these days without running into someone who has a tattoo, especially in the yoga community – from proud declarations of passion worn brazenly across the chest, to symbols of dedication that are tucked discreetly out of sight.
 
Tattoo culture is ancient. It’s unclear where it originates from exactly, but the first recorded inkings come from ancient Egypt, around the time when the pyramids were being built. These early tattoo forerunners believed that an image on the skin was much more than a powerful symbol, and actually allowed the wearer to take on the qualities of that image. For example, if you had a tattoo of a lion on your chest, not only do you look pretty badass, but you also take on the qualities of the lion – proud, strong, and a powerful leader, just like the king of beasts.
 
In the thousands of years since, tattoo culture has spread across the globe and back again, and today in the western world getting inked has never been more popular. In the yoga community in particular, you’ll often see the same recurring symbols, and this is by no means a coincidence. These popular tattoo images are not only aesthetically beautiful, but resonate with meaning and spiritual depth.
 
Of course, everyone has their own reasons for going under the needle and doing something so permanent. Whether it’s a badge of loyalty, a personal reminder of your beliefs, or simply because you love the way it looks and feels, we think tattoos are awesome. Even better if they’re yoga related!
 
Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your next tat, you’re not quite sure where to begin, or if you just want to see what’s out there and learn more about this ancient culture, read on, as we walk you through 6 of the most common yoga-inspired tattoos out there…
 
 

1. The Lotus Flower

The lotus is a symbol of purity and divine birth. The pure white flower flourishes in murky ponds. Hence, the lotus has come to represent the enlightened soul, calm amidst the chaos of the physical universe. The bud of the lotus symbolizes potential – it is the bud from which spiritual awareness grows. The number of petals changes depending on the meaning behind the lotus, with eight petals being the most common (reflecting the eight limbs of yoga) going all the way up to one thousand (to the crown chakra, or center of enlightenment). I’d like to see them try to fit that on one finger!
 
“If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are… and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.” – Masaru Emoto
 
lotus-flower-tat
 

 

2. The OM symbol

The OM symbol, from Sanskrit writing, is dripping with depth and meaning. Each curl represents a different part of the human awareness: conscious waking below, unconscious sleeping above, and out of the two comes the subconscious: the dream state. The floating dot above symbolizes a higher awareness, or nirvana, and reaching this state of bliss is only achievable by passing through the dash that hangs beneath it: signifying an infinitely open and willing mind.
The OM or “AUM” is also believed to be the sound that was made when all of creation came into existence, and it is how many yogis often begin and end their practice.
 
“OM is not just a sound or vibration. It is not just a symbol. It is the entire cosmos…. continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists.” – Amit Ray
 

A post shared by Willa-Mae Holness (@willa_mae) on


 
 

3. Mandalas

Often used as an object of focus in meditation, the mandala is a gorgeous geometric pattern that represents the metaphysical universe with cosmic harmony as all paths meet at the center. Comprised of many intricate components and details, the mandala becomes whole: a symbol of oneness, perfection, unity, and completeness. The mandala is also another way of representing a lotus (see above) in full bloom with its petals wide open to the world.
 
“Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life.” – Pema Chodron
 

A photo posted by Samazon (@the_samazonian) on


 
 

4. Hamsa

The Hamsa is a hand-shaped symbol, traditionally with a picture of an eye at its center. The Hamsa represents bravery and boldness, and is believed to ward off evil and negativity – the ultimate form of protection when worn on the skin as a tattoo. The eye represents the divine, always watching over you and bringing you good luck. Wearing a Hamsa on your own finger might bring even more protection to the wearer, as finger tattoos were often traditionally believed by ancient tribespeople to keep negative energies and spirits at bay. Incorporate an elephant inside your Hamsa for some extra good luck.
 
“Rakhay rakhanhaar aap ubaariun” – a mantra from Guru Arjan that translates to “The divine is looking out for us.”
 


 
 

5. The Moon

From the earth, the moon seems to be constantly changing as it waxes and wanes in its endless cycle. Yet we all know that the moon never actually vanishes from the sky but instead remains the same, silently orbiting us. The moon is a powerful symbol for our own lives, as we too seem to be going under constant day-to-day change, yet simultaneously remain the same people as the day we were born. The moon can symbolize rebirth, feminine power and fertility, and the karmic cycle: what goes around comes around!
 
“Regardless of the shadows that cross the moon to make it appear less than it is, to the moon, it is always full. So it is with us.” – Buddha
 


 
 

6. The Chakras

The chakras represent the circular centers of energy found in the human body. By focusing on and being in tune with each of our seven chakras, it is believed that we can find balance and healing within ourselves. As each chakra is associated with a different physical part of our upper body, it is often popular to tattoo the chakras as a line of symbols running up the spinal column.
 
If you look closely at the tattoo on the right, you will notice the chakras are being entwined by two serpents. This is inspired by Kundalini Yoga, a practice where the yogi works through their chakras to release their tantric energy. This energy normally lies dormant at the base of the spine, coiled up like a snake, just waiting to be awoken and to bring awareness into the whole body.
 
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself.” – Lao Tzu
 

A photo posted by Blake Mahon (@mountain_b3ar) on


 
 
With all these profound and stunning symbols for yogis to choose from, it’s easy to see why so many people decide to adorn their skin, take the plunge, and go under the needle.
 
But what about you? Is your body a work of art or a blank canvas? A work in progress or a finished masterpiece? Tattoo or no tattoo, we want to hear about it, so feel free to share all of your favorite pictures, ideas, or questions in the comments below. You never know – your tattoo could be someone else’s inspiration!
 

This article has been read 100K+ times. Wowzers!

Comments

wonderful comments!

Roo Frith

For Roo, yoga is her white dog - the only thing that will keep her depression at bay. Through her practice she has found courage, peace, and an energy that she thought at one point she would never feel again. Now, as her strength returns, Roo is determined to be reunited with her love of life, silliness, adventure, and creativity once more. Read more about her journey with mental illness, as well as following her travels, on her personal blog Hot Tea & Toast.

hotteaandtoast.wordpress.com

Practice with top instructors in the
comfort of your own home.
See the Classes

JOIN US ON THE GRAM LET’S HANG @YOGIAPPROVED

Send this to a friend

Follow us on

Already have an account? Login


Create an Account

New to site? Create an Account


Login

Lost password?