Symbolism of the Lotus

Symbolism is used throughout human history. The “symbol is an object, action, or idea that represents something other than itself, often of a more abstract nature.” (  Within the practice of yoga there are many symbols used.  Each posture itself is infused with more meaning than simply it’s bio-mechanics.  For example, in Ananda yoga each posture has an affirmation:

Standing Backward Bend – ” I am free! I am free!”

Balasana – Child Pose – “I draw toward my inner peace”

Bhujangasana – Cobra Pose – “I rise joyfully to meet each new opportunity.”

Even without an assigned affirmation, I am sure that many of you could describe the feelings that many of the poses evoke.  What about more traditional ideas of symbols?  The lotus flower is often front and center at yoga studios, embossed within yoga texts and represented within asana.  I was recently given a lotus flower with an attached explanation of the flower’s meaning.

“The lotus flower is one of the most ancient and deepest symbols of our planet. The lotus flower grows in muddy water and rises above the surface to bloom with remarkable beauty.  At night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again. Untouched by impurity, lotus symbolizes the purity of heart and mind.

The roots of the lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, asking for sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.”

I love how this explanation makes note that “at night the flower closes and sinks underwater, at dawn it rises and opens again.” Reminding us that enlightenment is not a solid or permanent state, it is instead one aspect of a cycle.  What symbols play a role in your life or your understanding of yoga?  How do these symbols effect your practice?


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. thank you for sharing the meaning of the lotus
    May we all find our inner lotus!

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