Since beginning my yoga practice fifteen years ago, I have collected almost 20 yoga-inspired tattoos, many of them from India, Bali, and Thailand.
My tattoos are like a map of my yoga journey, each one filled with memories of yoga retreats, teacher trainings, and practices all over the world.
One look at my Pinterest board and it’s safe to say I’m addicted to yoga tattoo ideas!
Getting a Yoga Tattoo can be a beautiful way to celebrate your practice, honor the journey you have been on thus far and symbolize your commitment to the path.
If you’ve been considering a Yoga Tattoo, keep reading for:
- 8 Unique Yoga Tattoo Ideas
- One very important cultural rule to consider
#1: Lotus Flower
The lotus flower is a symbol of purity, enlightenment, and spiritual growth in many Eastern cultures.
It also represents the Crown Chakra and is depicted as a beautiful thousand-petalled lotus flower.
In yoga, the lotus flower is often used as a symbol for the journey toward self-realization and inner peace and can also represent overcoming adversity.
The lotus flower begins its life in muddy, murky waters, then emerges from the mud blooming into a beautiful flower.This transformation is a metaphor for the human experience and reminds us that we can thrive even amidst the challenges of life.
If you came to yoga as a way to overcome personal difficulties, this yoga tattoo idea may resonate with you as a lotus tattoo represents the beauty and growth that comes from inner work.
#2: Om Symbol
A tattoo of the Sanskrit ‘Om’ is a popular design, particularly among those who practice yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices.
In yoga, we believe that the mantra Om (Aum) represents the sound of the universe.
A tattoo of the Om symbol signifies our understanding of unity, harmony, and the connection between ourselves and the universe.
The Om symbol is often a small, simple tattoo in a stylized form, with fluid curves and lines.
Due to its size, there are many options for placement which means you can keep this Yoga Tattoo discrete or incorporate it into other tattoos.
Om is a sacred sound in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other Eastern religions and therefore the placement of this tattoo needs careful consideration.
Read to the end for an important rule to adopt when deciding on a tattoo that has religious meaning.
Due to its often circular design, the mandala is said to represent harmony and the cycles of the universe.
A mandala is a beautiful yoga tattoo idea (I have three!) but, as the design is usually very complex, it often needs a larger surface area.
The back and shoulder are great options for placement.
Be sure to choose an experienced artist who is practiced in fine-line drawing as precision is key to ensuring the symmetry needed for a true mandala.
According to yogic and Eastern traditions, chakras are energy centers located within the pranic body, each corresponding to aspects of our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Each chakra is associated with a specific color, element, and spiritual quality, and is said to govern certain organs and systems of the body.
There are seven main chakras to inspire your tattoo design or opt for all seven to represent the idea of balancing and aligning these energy centers.
For those who are searching for unique tattoo ideas, rather than choosing to have the seven chakras placed down the length of the spine, why not consider lining them up along the sternum instead!
Namaste is a Sanskrit word that is commonly used as a greeting or farewell in India and Nepal.
In the yoga practice, Namaste is often spoken at the end of a class as a way of acknowledging and thanking the teacher and fellow students for their practice, as well as recognizing the divinity within ourselves and others.
If you’re considering a Namaste tattoo, here are a few ideas:
1) Simple Namaste: A simple tattoo of the word “Namaste” in a beautiful script font can be a minimalist yet meaningful tattoo with many options for placement.
2) Namaste with Lotus: The word ‘Namaste can easily be incorporated either inside or near a lotus flower.
3) Namaste with Om: I love my wrist tattoo which is a simple Namaste with ‘Om’ incorporated into the end.
4) Namaste with a Feather: A feather symbolizes spiritual growth and connection to the divine. A Namaste tattoo design incorporating a feather could be a beautiful way to celebrate the journey of the soul towards enlightenment.
#5: Sanskrit Mantra
If you deeply resonate with a particular Sanskrit mantra, choosing it as a tattoo idea can be a powerful and meaningful way to celebrate your practice.
Here are some of my favourite mantras:
1. Om Shanti Shanti Shanti: Often chanted at the end of a yoga practice or meditation session, this mantra simply means peace, peace, perfect peace.
2. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu: Another beautiful mantra often chanted at the end of a yoga practice.
This mantra means “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life in some way contribute to that happiness.”
3. Gayatri Mantra: This is one of the most beloved mantras in Hinduism, believed to bring wisdom, spiritual enlightenment, and inner peace.
A larger tattoo which will require careful hand:
Om Bhur Bhuva Swaha
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat
4. Om Namah Shivaya: A salutation to Lord Shiva, the destroyer and restorer God. Chanting to Shiva is believed to burn away negative energy and promote spiritual growth.
5. Om Mani Padme Hum: Originally a Buddhist mantra meaning “Praise to the jewel in the lotus”, this mantra connects the practitioner with their innately loving and compassionate nature.
#6: Yoga Sutras
The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is considered one of the foundational texts of yoga and comprises a collection of 196 ancient texts that outline the philosophy and practices of yoga.
Choosing one of these ‘threads of wisdom’ as a unique tattoo idea pays homage to the roots of the practice.
Here are three beloved sutras that speak directly of the yoga practice:
- Atha yoga anushasanam: The first sutra simply states “And now, the teachings of yoga”
- Yogas chitta vritti nirodha: “yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.”
- Ishvara pranidhana: “I surrender to the Divine”
#7: Yoga poses
If you’re a devoted asana practitioner, a beautiful image of a yoga pose could be the perfect tattoo choice.
When considering which pose to choose, try to opt for one with a clear shape. For this reason, simple asana work best.
Here are some ideas:
- Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
- Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2)
- Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)
- Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
- Natarajasana (Dancers Pose)
- Padmasana (Lotus Pose)
#8: Lord Shiva
In Hinduism, Lord Shiva is celebrated as the God of yoga. He is often depicted in yoga poses and is worshipped by yogis and practitioners alike.
Here are some unique tattoo ideas incorporating Shiva:
- Nataraja: Nataraja is a form of Lord Shiva depicted in a cosmic dance pose. This can make for a stunning, complex tattoo design
- Trishula: The trishula is a three-pronged weapon associated with Lord Shiva representing the three aspects of consciousness: waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. A tattoo of the trishula symbolizes strength and protection.
- Ardhanarishvara: Another beautiful depiction of Lord Shiva that represents the union of the male and female aspects of the divine. A tattoo of Ardhanarishvara symbolizes the harmony of opposites and the balance of masculine and feminine energies.
One important cultural rule to consider
While there is no hard and fast rule about where it is appropriate to get your tattoo, know that in Buddhist and Hindu cultures it is generally considered disrespectful to place images of religious or spiritual figures or words in ‘impure’ locations.
In both Hindu and Buddhist cultures, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body, and the feet are considered the lowest and the most impure.
Touching someone with your feet or showing the soles of your feet to others is considered disrespectful, and you should always avoid touching any religious items or images with your feet.
This also pertains to the placement of tattoos.
Placing certain images below the waist may be seen as disrespectful or offensive to some members of the Buddhist and Hindu communities.
Additionally, it is important to note that tattooing any religious or spiritual figure should be done with a great deal of thought and consideration.
Part of honoring the legacy of yoga is to understand and respect the significance of the image before choosing to permanently place it on your body.
Getting a yoga tattoo can be a beautiful way to express your commitment to the practice of yoga and its values, such as mindfulness, peace, and balance.
It can also serve as a reminder of your own personal journey and the progress you have made in your practice.
It is always a good idea to do your research, consult with a knowledgeable tattoo artist, and carefully consider your personal intentions before getting any kind of religious or spiritual tattoo.
To learn about how to find a reputable tattoo artist, check out this article by Inked Mag.