as Yoga Design
by Sherri Silverman
is Indias spiritually based system of architecture,
design, and sacred space. It is both architecture and
the art of how to honor and fill the space enclosed within
that form. Vastu aligns our architectural spaces with
the beneficial effects of subtle laws of nature and earth
and cosmic energies. Vastu works with prana, or universal
life energy, to enhance the freshness, vitality, and life-supporting
qualities of our environment. Vastu is the yoga of design,
which enables us to live in harmony, balance and wholeness.
Like meditation and yoga, Vastu is a part of our planetary
heritage: it is universal and belongs to all of us.
design requires beauty, comfort and practicality; the
use of natural materials; and attunement with nature through
the honoring of the five elements and the nine directions.
The Sanskrit word Vastu is translated as energy,
the space that fills that form or dwelling,
and substance that… exists eternally. Vaastu
refers to the humanly built forms that are filled with
that space energy. Vastu views a building as a living
entity that harmoniously supports our lives. It has the
potential to revolutionize lives by creating buildings
that, as living organisms, fully support our health, growth,
and happiness instead of being the cause of many of our
problems, as we see with todays sick buildings.
creates homes in which prana (subtle, sparkly,
universal life energy, what in the Chinese system is called
chi) flows freely and there are no structural
elements that predispose us to illness or problems in
life. Even existing health problems ease up and can clear
from being in buildings constructed according to true
Vastu. There are aspects of Vastu that can be applied
to rectify energetic imbalances in existing homes, although
building a new house according to Vastu principles produces
a much more powerfully nourishing environment.
main blueprint for Vastu homes is the Vastu Purusha Mandala,
a square or rectangular grid pattern with a minimum of
nine sections representing the nine directions of north,
south, east, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest,
and the center. Each direction has properties which can
facilitate transforming any space into one that feels
and looks better, that is more supportive of fulfilling
our desires for peace, prosperity, health, and happiness.
recognizes five elements of creation that, when honored
and balanced, enhance the flow of prana within
a home or other building. Honoring nature is always a
sacred acknowledgement. Its clear that respect and
care of our natural environment is a sacred contract –
we have all seen the result of ignoring this. The five
elements are space, air, fire, water, and earth. Space
is the subtlest of the five elements; earth is the most
dense. It is traditionally understood from Taitiriya
Upanishad that each element emerges in turn from the
previous, less dense element, which is how material form
develops out of the unmanifest space.
of these five elements is energetically associated with
a particular direction. These concentrated, specialized
energies are predominant in specific different sectors
of the Vastu Purusha Mandala. By honoring the various
elements and their primal energies, greater ease in life
bhumi or prithivi
The earth element is associated with the southwest, the
best choice for the master bedroom. Earth is a solid,
dense, and grounded element in its effect. We all need
a physical basis or foundation to survive in this world.
Plants, trees, soil, rocks, and mountains represent the
Northeast is the direction where the energy waves of water
element collect. This makes it the best placement for
indoor and outdoor water features: swimming pools, fountains,
ponds, waterfalls, and aquariums. Water is a metaphor
for pure consciousness in the Vedic tradition.
The fire element is predominant in the southeast, so it
is the best placement for kitchens, fireplaces, computers,
and electrical equipment. Digestion in the body and transformation
are also the realm of Agni. Light fires or candles
in the southeast.
The air element is most lively in the northwest. Put fans,
wind streamers, mobiles, wind chimes, or air purifiers
here. Movement is associated with air element. Practice
pranayama breath techniques, preferably with windows
open enough to bring fresh air into the room.
This element is directly linked to sound and silence.
Akasha is the expansiveness in the center of the
architectural form and in the center of each room. This
is called the Brahmasthan; honor it in each area
by keeping it clean and open. Dont put heavy objects
by all the rules but neglect to create a beautiful building,
and it is not fully Vastu; aesthetics must be satisfied
as well. Without the element of beauty, the structure
is not complete. Vastu encourages you to imitate Nature
and divine Creation by beautifying your own spaces.
the best results come from building according to Vastu,
the guidelines can be used to enhance existing spaces.
Color, placement, honoring of the directions and the five
elements, aesthetics, and the use of yantras (Vedic sacred
geometry) are some of the factors a Vastu consultant will
Silverman, Ph.D., is an artist and Vastu consultant who
works with clients nationally and internationally on their
homes, gardens, and businesses. More information, yantras,
and a free 21-page yantra guidebook PDF can be found at
Sherris Vastu book, The Transcendental Home:
Vastu, the Yoga of Design, will be published in fall
2007 by Gibbs Smith Publishers.
2006 Sherri Silverman