Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Yoga Appearance (Best Examples)

Yoga Appearance Page | Yoga Main Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Yoga Appearance Explanation (below)
- Yoga Main Page
- Yoga Appearance Outline
- Mahasiddha Main Page
- Mahasiddha Definition
- Lay-figure Appearance
- Internal Body Mandalas
- Body Postures in Iconography Outline
- Mahasiddhas Performing Yoga Postures Outline
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Video: Yoga Topics

In Himalayan art 'yoga appearance' can refer to two different things. First it can describe (1) how a figure appears - characterized by few clothes, often wearing only a single white garment and partially naked, long hair, a red meditation belt and sometimes with a bowl at the side. Secondly it can refer to any type of figurative form such as king, lay-person, siddha appearance, deity, etc., performing yoga-like postures.

Yoga appearance is very similar to mahasiddha Appearance. Mahasiddhas can be depicted as belonging to one of four types of figurative appearance [1] King Appearance, [2] Monastic Appearance, [3] lay person, or [4] Mahasiddha Appearance. Yoga appearance belongs to the larger category of Lay-person Appearance and is generally simple and more austere than the other types of appearance. Mahasiddha appearance is slightly more complex with the figure taking on the adornments of a wrathful deity as described in the Buddhist Tantric literature. Generally these added embellishments are garlands of bone ornaments, necklaces, belts, bracelets, crown and a tiger skin skirt around the waist.

Considered the most famous yogis in Tantric Buddhism are the Indian figures of Virupa, also known as the Lord of Yoga (yogeshvara), and all other Indian Buddhist siddhas that are depicted in mahasiddha appearance, Jalandhara, Padampa Sanggye, etc.

The well-known Tibetan yogis are Milarepa, Ling Repa, Tangtong Gyalpo and Tsang Nyon Heruka. Three of these figures wear very plain clothing and the fourth chooses to appear in the attire of a Heruka deity by wearing the bone ornaments and tiger skin lower garment as described in the Chakrasamvara and Hevajra Tantras.

Accomplished women practitioners and teachers are universally known as Yoginis, which is not the case with the male teachers and accomplished practitioners. The best Indian examples are Niguma and Sukhasiddhi. The most famous Tibetan Yoginis are Yeshe Tsogyal and Machig Labdron.

Jeff Watt 7-2007 [updated 6-2017]