Yoga: An Art Chronicled

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Richly adorning the Indian temples are the sculptures, murals, and frescos depicting the ancient mythologies and symbolic themes from sacred texts like Vedas and Upanishads.

Yoga-Narasiṃha, a man-lion, is one of the several forms of Vishnu’s incarnation where he appears sitting cross-legged in a Yogic posture. At the request of his devotee, Prahlada, he manifested this Yoga form to calm his emanating heat. The avatar of Lord Vishnu is among the favorite pieces housed within the ancient South Indian temples. However, the Yoga Narasiṁha, which resides at the temple in Vijayanagara, Hampi, (13th and 17th centuries), is the most creatively striking of them all.

Image copyright: T. P. Jayaraj’s photo collection
Image source: 10000yearsblog.wordpress

An ancient sculpture of Patanjali depicted in half-man, half-serpent form, signifying his enlightenment. In Yogic science, a snake is symbolic of kundalini energy.

Jambukeswaram temple (2nd century AD) Shown below are some Hatha Yoga reliefs carved on pillars and walls of the temple.

Image credit: Nicolas Mirguet
Image copyright (rt): Rob Linrothe, (Left)

Mahabalipuram (7th century): Ancient stone carving of Vrks Asana.

Written by: Baani

Temple Nataraj (Chola Era 10th-12th centuries) is where Sage Patanjali wrote Yoga Sutras. Its temple hosts the carvings, sculpture, and other allied arts of the Yogi’s and Yoginis in Hath Yoga postures.

Photo credit: Hari Prasad Nadig

Ranganathaswamy Temple (6th to 9th centuries AD): Stone carvings of Yoga Asanas.

Srirangam Temple (6th to 9th centuries AD): Bas reliefs depicting Yogi’s performing various Hatha Yoga Asanas- Shown below are ‘Tree posture’ (Vrksa Asana) and ‘Bhujapid Asana’.

Image copyright: Linda-Sama