Posts Tagged ‘Hindu’

This week’s edition of Yoga Tattuesday profiles one of the many yoga-inspired tattoos of famed yogi blogger, Linda-Sama Karl.  Here is a series of three photos taken during the progression of Linda’s tattoo: 

The tattoo in the center of Linda’s shoulder blades is the Kali yantra.  For those readers unfamiliar with the Kali yantra, I will first explain the Hindu goddess Kali, and then the concept of a yantra.

A superficial understanding of the Hindu goddess Kali would be as the goddess of death and destruction.  She is often depicted in a frightening way – sticking out her tongue, waiving her four arms, clutching weapons and swords in her fists, wearing a girdle of human hands and a necklace of human skulls.  However, to understand Kali simply as the goddess of death and destruction would be to misunderstand her.  As with most things, one must look past her ferocious exterior to see that Kali is really the goddess of change, the destroyer of false consciousness, the goddess of liberation, and of divine love.

Yantra is a sanskrit word meaning many things, including “instrument” and “diagram”.  Very simply, a yantra is a group of geometric figures and symbols used traditionally in Eastern mysticism to focus the mind on spiritual concepts.  According to Wikipedia, “the act of wearing, depicting, enacting, and/or concentrating on a yantra is held to have spiritual, or astrological, or magical benefits in the Tantric traditions of the Indian religions.”

So, a Kali yantra is an instrument used to meditate on the goddess Kali, and by focusing on this yantra (or, perhaps bearing such a tattoo) an individual is said to absorb the energy of Kali – her divine love, her power to transform and liberate.  Pretty cool, right?

You can read a heck of a lot more on the Kali yantra on Linda’s blog.  I’ve also read some pretty good stuff here.

To those of you who don’t already know her, Linda-Sama Karl is a blogger, and a yoga teacher based in the Chicago-area.  In August 2010, Linda was profiled in an in-depth two part series for The Magazine of Yoga (check out Part I and Part II).  In May 2011, Linda will be leading a yoga and meditation retreat in Bali, which sounds pretty amazing.

Linda’s spiritual journey began with her first “om” in 1973 (with Allen Ginsberg, no less).  She immersed herself in the study and practice of classical yoga and meditation 15 years ago as a way to recover from severe arthritis in her shoulder which resulted in surgery.  Since that time she has accumulated over 1,500 hours of training with annual trips to India.  In fact, she has been blogging since March of 2005, when she started planning her very first trip to India to study at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. Linda has several yoga-inspired tattoos (more of which you can glimpse in the photo above), which I hope to profile on future editions of Yoga Tattuesday.

I started reading Linda’s blog about 2 years ago, and dreamed of one day having the chutzpa to start my own blog.  Now that I have my own blog, I still read Linda’s blog and wish I had her chutzpa – the “tell it, sister” kind of chutzpa that makes her revered in the yoga blogosphere.

You can learn more about Linda at her website.  I encourage you to read her blog, Linda’s Yoga Journey.  She writes about her personal practice, and her experiences teaching, but she doesn’t shy away from more in-depth pieces on the major issues in the yoga community today.

Thank you, Linda, for sharing your tattoo and your story.  And thank you for inspiring me to to find my voice and my chuztpa and to start this blog!

If you, or someone you love, has a yoga-inspired tattoo and would like to share it with the whole wide world, please follow the instructions below:

How to participate:

1) Please email me photo of your tattoo: My email address is: yogabird03@gmail.com.

2) Along with the photo, please also include your name, where you’re from, what you do, etc. Be sure to include your blog, your website, etc. (if you have one), so that I can link to it in the post.

3) Please also include any information about how you started practicing yoga.

4) And most importantly, tell me why you chose your yoga-inspired tattoo!

I look forward to hearing from you and to seeing your ink!


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courtesy of the NYTimes


Yesterday’s New York Times profiled an emerging campaign backed by the Hindu-American Foundation called the “Take Back Yoga” campaign. The group encourages that yoga practitioners learn more about the ancient Hindu traditions which they say are the root of yoga practice.  While this is a seemingly small group of people, their message, or rather the question that their message raises – who owns yoga – has sparked an intense debate and has drawn responses from some heavy hitters on both sides.

In June, it even prompted the Indian government to begin making digital copies of ancient drawings showing the provenance of more than 4,000 yoga poses, to discourage further claims by entrepreneurs like Bikram Choudhury, an Indian-born yoga instructor to the stars who is based in Los Angeles. Mr. Choudhury nettled Indian officials in 2007 when he copyrighted his personal style of 26 yoga poses as “Bikram Yoga.”

Organizers of the Take Back Yoga effort point out that the philosophy of yoga was first described in Hinduism’s seminal texts and remains at the core of Hindu teaching. Yet, because the religion has been stereotyped in the West as a polytheistic faith of “castes, cows and curry,” they say, most Americans prefer to see yoga as the legacy of a more timeless, spiritual “Indian wisdom.”

“In a way,” said Dr. Aseem Shukla, the foundation’s co-founder, “our issue is that yoga has thrived, but Hinduism has lost control of the brand.”

The “Take Yoga Back” campaign had a somewhat quiet beginning:

The effort to “take back” yoga began quietly enough, with a scholarly essay posted in January on the Web site of the Hindu American Foundation, a Minneapolis-based group that promotes human rights for Hindu minorities worldwide. The essay lamented a perceived snub in modern yoga culture, saying that yoga magazines and studios had assiduously decoupled the practice “from the Hinduism that gave forth this immense contribution to humanity.”

Soon, Dr. Shukla made his argument in a piece for The Washington Post, in which he said that yoga had been the victim of “intellectual property theft”.  Didn’t take long for the likes of Dr. Deepak Chopra, an Indian-American writer who has made his living popularizing alternative medicine techniques as well as yoga.

For Dr. Uma V. Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, the campaign represents the growing pains of the Indian-American population in the United States:

A naturalized immigrant, [Ms. Mysorekar] said Take Back Yoga represented a coming-of-age for Indians in the United States. “My generation was too busy establishing itself in business and the professions,” she said. “Now, the second and third generation is looking around and finding its voice, saying, ‘Our civilization has made contributions to the world, and these should be acknowledged.’”

It is an interesting debate that I’m sure is just beginning to rage.  Thoughts?

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