Sacred Geometry

The Golden Ratio

When you think “geometry,” what comes to mind? Most likely shapes, numbers, formulas, neglected homework — standard thought processes related to the geometric realm of mathematics. But if you responded with the Mona Lisa, pinecones, Saturn and your own arm, then you’re actually further along the correct track in understanding the art of sacred geometry!

Sacred geometry is the study of recurring patterns that occur throughout the universe.
It is found in astronomy (galaxies), plants, seashells, weather patterns, human and animal bodies and even DNA.

It has been studied for centuries on a cosmic, molecular and metaphysical scale by people of varying backgrounds and areas of study. Unlike practical geometry, sacred geometry emphasizes the concept of the “golden ratio.” Also called the “divine proportion,” the golden ratio is believed to yield the most balanced, proportionate and attractive results when applied to almost any field. While sacred geometry is best known for its use in designing religious buildings and structures, it has also been used to create music, art and more; it’s even believed by many that God created the universe using sacred geometry, as the golden ratio can be found in galaxies, plants, seashells, weather patterns, human and animal bodies and even DNA. When the golden ratio is used in art, architecture and music, the end product is often perceived as aesthetically pleasing, beautifully harmonized or otherwise well-balanced, enjoyable or inexplicably alluring. For example, the “Mona Lisa,” “The Last Supper” and the Sistene Chapel’s “The Creation of Adam” all contain the golden ratio, as do the Parthenon and Taj Mahal. Though the use of the golden ratio throughout history may not always be intentional, the fact that these pieces are still captivating people today is a testament to how the use of sacred geometry can appeal to and open the minds and hearts of people.

The Golden Ratio  φ

Sacred Geometry is focused around the concept of the golden ratio, or golden mean. In mathematics, a typical ratio shows the relationship between 2 quantities, specifically how many times one quantity contains the other. For example, if a yoga class has 13 students, 7 male and 6 female, the ratio of men to women would be 7:6. However, the golden ratio transcends the typical ratio’s basic mathematical function and is studied and used by mathematicians, scientists, artists, architects, spiritual teachers, religious practitioners and many others. In order for two quantities to fall in the golden ratio, the ratio of the larger quantity compared to the smaller must be the same as the ratio of the sum of both quantities compared to the larger quantity. So, if comparing A to B (with A being the larger quantity), the golden ratio is present if the following formula applies:

The value of the golden ratio, represented as φ (phi), is 1.61803398874989484820…, with endless digits that follow no pattern. Like π (pi), which is usually represented as 3.14 but also has endless non-repeating decimals, phi is irrational; even though it’s called the “golden ratio”, phi cannot be written as a ratio or fraction. However, as long as both A/B and (A+B) / A equal roughly 1.618, they are within the golden ratio.The number sequence that is used in understanding and applying the golden ratio had been studied and developed by Indian mathematicians for thousands of years, possibly dating back to 200 BC, but was not introduced to the western world until 1202 by Leonardo Fibonacci. The sequence is thus referred to as the Fibonacci sequence, and is characterized by starting with “0, 1”  — after that, each number is the sum of the two previous numbers. As the numbers increase, the closer the ratio gets to reaching phi. To determine this, divide each number by the number directly before it; at 144 and on, the numbers begin getting closer and closer to phi, each falling into the golden ratio.

0, 1, 1,  2,  3,  5,  8,  13,  21,  34,  55,  89, 144,  233,  377,  610,  987,  1597,  2584 …

Sacred Geometry and Yoga

Sacred geometry and the golden ratio appeal to both left-brain and right-brain thought processes, satisfying the need for logical, objective data while also appealing to our desire for random or subjective data. It can be described as the geometry of natural balance; sunflowers, leaves, hurricanes and even musical harmonies can have elements of sacred geometry embedded in them. So how about yoga, which is the art of finding spiritual union and truth between the individual and transcendental self? Yoga poses are focused around achieving mental and physical harmony, and, just as it does within nature, this harmony may manifest itself physically as sacred geometry.When comparing a series of yoga poses to various golden ratio grids, golden ratios can often be found in multiple areas of each pose. Golden ratio grids are used in creating and identifying sacred geometry in art and architecture and can be designed in many ways — as long as the formula for phi applies throughout (a / b = [a+b] / a).

Arm Balance Scorpion

By creating a logarithmic spiral using the golden ratio, the final product is a golden spiral. Additionally, each rectangle in this golden spiral grid (including the outline) is a golden rectangle. The spiral begins at the head, follows the curve around the face and neck, along the torso and all the way to the knees. The entire body above the elbows is contained within the largest golden rectangle, with the shoulders, chest and head in the lower rectangle and the abdomen, glutes and legs in the upper rectangle.