What is that geometric design that encompasses the back wall and the bathroom door at Shree? What does it mean? It is called a ‘Shree Yantra.”
Yantras come from the tantric traditions of Indian religions. Yantra translates literally as “machine” or “contraption” in sanskrit. The machine of a yantra is a visual representation for meditation. Yantras represent the meditative practices that encompass the worship of a specific deity. They can also be utilized for protection from harmful influences, development of particular powers, and attainment of wealth or success. Ancient symbols used for supposed occult powers in Hindu astrology, yantras have been found in India dating back to 11,000 – 10,000 years ago.
The idea to paint the Sri Yantra on our back wall was developed by Suki and Genevieve and was painted by Kelly Igoe. The Sri Yantra is one of the oldest yantra designs around, dating back to the seventh century C.E. It is considered the mother of all yantras, because all other yantras are derived from it. Kelly Igoe, Genevieve, and Suki answered some questions about what the yantra means, how it was executed, and how it can be incorporated into a yoga practice.
1) What is the yantra called and what does it represent?
Kelly: The mural at Shree is the central portion of the Sri Yantra. As a symbol it represents unification of masculine and feminine energies, and, I suppose this could extend into many dualities.
Genevieve: Shree is a play on words. Most often heard as a title of veneration, shree, shri, or sri is used to honor and revere one in whom the light of the divine shines bright. The noun means the light of the divine in all things. The adjective, the state of allowing that radiance to shine. Shree is the way we believe all beings can be and feel and relate with one another and is an invitation for our community to see the light of the divine all around.
2)What inspired the Sri Yantra at Shree?
Kelly: The summer of 2015 Suki and Genevieve asked me to help with the painting of a mural at Shree. I was happy to participate. They told me they wanted it to feature the Sri Yantra, but it was up to me to figure out the best way to manage this. I had thought about trying something more dense and richly colored, but the simplicity of the line work and a single soft color eventually felt like the right thing to do for the space.
Genevieve: Our logo is an artistic play on the Shri Yantra, a tool used for meditation and yoga around the Universe. It is a visual tool representing all forces of life in the cosmos, with the center point the seed from which all vitality is created, sustained and destroyed in full cycle. The image in the wall is an almost complete version of the classical yantra, with lotus petal gates. Our logo stretches and fills the yantra’s center with creative power and all the prettiest colors.
3) Is the placement of the yantra at Shree significant?
I used projection to help determine the mural’s placement. It was more of a graphic design project than an art project in many ways. We looked at several variations, but Suki, Genevieve and I all agreed that the best option was to do what we did: blow up the central portion of the yantra and offset it so as to incorporate the door in the wall but not in any symmetrical way.
4) How can the yantra help a student’s yoga practice?
Kelly: Perhaps at certain moments in practice the yantra might catch a student’s eye and provide a point of focus, or a subtle peace offering. I like seeing it in the afternoon light when the gold paint glimmers. I would be curious to hear from students if any have had messages come through related to the yantra, or if any have had some kind of helpful experience. I still enjoy seeing it every time I come to the studio. I am pleased by the way it looms but is also delicate and unobtrusive.
Suki : The movement and dynamic energy (as opposed to static) that is created from the balance of opposites holds the intrigue of the yantra for me. I like to be reminded that balance isn’t boring, but is a powerful state of potential that bears wild fruit.
A few more facts about the Sri Yantra. The five interlocking triangles that point downward represent Shakti, the female principal, whereas, the four upward pointing triangles represent Shiva, the male principal. The nine interlocking triangles form 43 small triangles, in which reside a deity that is representative of different aspects of existence. The entire spiritual quest of a man or woman can be mapped on the yantra. As one moves step by step to the bindu, which is in the middle of the yantra, they are working towards their own enlightenment. Such a journey is mapped in stages, and each of these stages corresponds with one of the circuits of which the Sri Yantra is composed from the outer plane to the bindu in the center. Each of the circuits of the yantra corresponds to a chakra as well.
There are a lot of profound layers to the Sri Yantra on the back wall. Next time you’re at Shree, take a closer look and absorb the yantra and its intricacies. As the yantra works its magic on you, perhaps that feeling can be taken into your daily life.