My First Tattoo

“Practice and all is coming.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Kalava TattooSee that on my pinky? That would be my first tattoo! It’s based off of the red/yellow string that you see wrapped around my wrist. In India, this is a blessing that you receive each time you visit a temple. It’s placed on your wrist after the priest blesses you and is used as a reminder of your commitment to God. In the opening ceremony of our yoga teacher training, we each received one to symbolize our devotion/commitment to yoga. (Remember, “yoga” is not just stretching–it’s a lifestyle that unites body, mind, and spirit and seeks to free us from ignorance and illusion.)

The tattoo is on my right hand because the right side represents giving (left = receiving) and it’s on my pinky because that represents the smallest/weakest part. In other words, I commit my practice to the smallest, weakest, most vulnerable parts of my being. That’s (part of) what spirituality is to me and that’s (part of) why I do yoga.

Five of us got this tattoo together. Once the program is over we’re going to travel together throughout Varanasi, Agra, and Mumbai. This tattoo is also a promise to each other. (Ever heard of a “pinky promise”?)

Lastly, hand tattoos fade/wear off relatively quickly. This mirrors the concept of the red band. It doesn’t last forever. You have to recommit. So I might periodically get the tattoo touched up (maybe each time I visit India?), or if I grow weary of having a tattoo I can just let it fade over time. Regardless, the meaning and symbolism of the tattoo will forever remain etched on my heart.

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