What is Vastu Shastra?
You’re probably familiar with Feng Shui. It’s become popular over the years as a way to bring luck and prosperity into the home. But you might not know that Feng Shui has its roots in Vastu Shastra, the architecture science from ancient India.
Vastu Shastra, the science of building in harmony with nature, comes from a body of knowledge called the Vedas, which was written in India seven to ten thousand years ago. Ancient seers (rishis) observed the workings of the universe and how it affected the human physiology and our external world and they described it all within the Vedas – from astrology through jet propulsion to zoology.
There are many texts within Vedic knowledge and Vastu comes from a text called Artharva Veda. Within this text are sciences that address how to improve the quality of your life. Atharva Veda not only includes Vastu Shastra, but also its sister sciences of Ayurveda, Jyotish astrology, yoga, and meditation. Ayurveda and yoga seek to balance the five elements of earth, water, fire, air and space in the physical body. Vastu takes it a step further to balance the five elements in the body of your residence.
Lissa Coffey, is the founder of CoffeyTalk.com and author of the bestselling What’s Your Dosha, Baby among many other titles centering around Vedic science. Her release Song Divine is a modern musical interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita; she is someone whose live is steeped in the application of the teachings of the Vedas.
Lissa and her husband Greg took me on a tour of their custom-built Vastu home in the Conejo Valley. From the outside it looks very much like other houses in the neighborhood, in a traditional Spanish style. But a closer look reveals so much that is special about it. Here’s what Lissa, and her Vastu architect Michael Mastro shared with me about their experience and how it all ended up.
A Personal Experience with Vastu Shastra
Lissa, how did you come up with the idea of building a Vastu home?
I started learning about Vastu through my research on Ayurveda. When Michael Mastro came to the Hindu Temple in Malibu in 2006 to talk about his work, Greg and I went and we all became fast friends. Michael went through and fixed up the home we had at the time, and it planted the seed that someday we would build a true Vastu home. That opportunity came up in 2015 when we purchased a piece of land. We went to Michael, had him evaluate the lot, and together we collaborated on a floor plan that met the Vastu criteria. It was really fun working with Michael.
Not many homes have a dedicated meditation room. How do you like that feature?
LC: We feel so lucky! This is a “must have” for a Vastu house. Our meditation room has windows in the north and east, to let in morning light and great energy. When we sit to meditate we face east, where the altar is placed. We put in a pyramid ceiling per Michael’s suggestion to amplify the vibes. I also keep my Vedanta books in there. And I have a photo of Swami Sarvadevananda, my teacher at the Vedanta Society, on my altar. Michael even taught me how to Vastu the altar. This is actually my favorite room in the whole house – I love it.
Did you do the decorating all yourself?
Yes! The floor plan was set, so I knew the function of each room, and Michael gave me the Vastu guidelines for colors and such. I was going for a “Spain meets India” aesthetic, a little Bohemian casual, and yet a touch of elegance. Lots of wood, lots of light, warm and comfortable. I used some Spanish tile mosaics for a bit of whimsy, and a peacock feather Mexican sink in the kitchen island – that blends the two cultures right there.
We mostly used all the same furniture we had before. I got some “hand-me-downs” from my mom – including a Spanish hutch to house a lot of our treasures from our travels in India. I recovered her dining room chairs in this modern peacock fabric. The big dining table is the only new piece I got – and that will come in handy when I hold classes here. The grand piano is from my step-dad, so I’ve started playing again after all these years!
Do you feel a difference with this being a Vastu home – as compared to other homes you’ve lived in?
Absolutely. Pretty much everyone who comes to visit notices it! It’s a calming, grounding energy – very balanced. It’s a good thing, because Greg and I both work from home, so we’re here a lot. We have been living an Ayurvedic lifestyle for many years now, and to have a home that really supports that is just amazing.
Michael, how would you explain Vastu to someone who hasn’t experienced it?
My wife Robin and I call Vastu “yoga for the home.” Vastu eliminates the stress that so often exists in life so you can be more productive and successful In a Vastu home, all five elements are in perfect balance and in harmony with nature. With this harmony you receive the support of nature in terms of fulfillment in career, finances, health, and relationships.
Stressful environments create dis-ease in your body and affects your well-being and productivity. Everyone has had the experience of walking into a home that looks beautiful, but for some reason, you feel uncomfortable and are anxious to leave. This stress or anxiety indicates that one or more of the five elements is out of balance.
How do the four directions come into play with Vastu ?
MM: There are two primary forces of nature that impact the level of success we experience in our lives. The first is positive solar energy that rises in the east, and the second is positive magnetic energy that comes from the north. These two positive energies enter your environment from the northeast and collect in the southwest for your benefit. Scientific studies have demonstrated that energy moves most harmoniously in a rectangular dwelling. All five elements –earth, water, fire, air, and space– are in balance in a rectangular shaped structure.
When a building or lot is not rectangular, these five elements are out of balance and energy can get stuck in any jogs, such as missing corners, cuts, or extensions, creating stress that effects different aspects of your life. When a home or office is aligned with the forces of nature through the science of Vastu, it is like swimming with the current of a river, not against it. You experience your life with more grace and ease.
Building from Scratch – Om Sweet Home
Tell us about Lissa’s home and how you designed the Vastu for it.
MM: Lissa’s home is rectangular and emits beauty. In a Vastu home, there is an open area in the center, open to the sky in the form of a skylight or atrium. This area is called the Brahmastana, or “center of awareness.” This open area adds to the flow of energy and creates a feeling of sacred space. In Lissa’s home, we used her family’s Vedic astrological chart and came up with formulas, based on Vastu, that determined the length, width, and height of her house. We also used astrology for specific dates to clear the land, begin construction and the perfect timing of the move-in. Doing so created a Vastu home that has vibrant harmony for Lissa and her family. It also feels uplifting for all others who enter.
In a Vastu home, we also align our physical bodies with these two previously mentioned forces of nature, the solar and magnetic energies. Placement of functions within a home take on a special meaning. In Lissa’s home, the placement of the master bedroom, kitchen, study, bathrooms, prayer/meditation room, as well as utilities, was designed to give Lissa and her family the maximum support of nature for all their endeavors. Colors used, proportions of the rooms, down to the artwork on the walls was all taken into consideration in the design process. Working with Lissa and her husband, Greg, was a great gift. Their natural design sense made this a wonderful collaboration.
Vastu Works in Any Home or Workspace
Not everyone can take the time or expense to build an entire house from the ground up. What are some things we can do to apply Vastu to a home we’re already living in?
MM: Vastu suggests a variety of actions you can take to support the aspects of your life that are not in harmony with the ease and well-being you desire. To understand how to enhance your environment and your life through Vastu, it is important to know how the five elements work from a Vastu perspective. From this point of view, creating a more fulfilling life is directly influenced by the five elements being in their proper balance.
Balance of the Five Elements through Vastu Shastra
Here are some basic ways you can make small changes to your environment to help you experience the benefits of Vastu.
The Space Element
Space is associated with the center of a home or office and is connected to your sense of hearing. When the space element is in balance, you experience yourself living more within the present moment and your success in all areas of life is supported.
- Playing inspiring or soothing music brings the space element into balance.
- Fix any disturbing noises such as squeaky doors to reduce environmental stress.
- This is a good area to keep open as much as possible to allow the beneficial energy to flow.
- Lighter colors on the ceiling create a greater sense of vertical spaciousness and wellbeing.
- If there are central walls, hang a painting or photo representing the stars or planets, something that inspires expansion.
- Clutter in the center of your home adversely affects every area of your life because it is the source of the other four elements.
The Air Element
The air element is associated with the northwest area of your home or workspace and is connected to your sense of touch. When the air element is in balance you feel clarity in communication and harmony in your relationships, within the self and others.
- Open windows and allow fresh air to circulate through your space, whenever possible.
- Daily, take some long, slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose to bring life-force energy into the body.
- Close your eyes and feel the sensation of the air touching your skin.
- This is a good area for a guest room.
- Use light blue colors either on the walls or accent pieces such as pillows or curtains in the northwest area of your home or workspace.
- Art that contains expansive sky scenes supports the air element in the northwest.
- Hanging wind chimes in northwest areas of your home, inside or outside, also supports the air element.
- Fragrant incense or an essential oil diffuser purifies the air in the southwest.
- Clutter in the area creates stress in relationships.
The Fire Element
The fire element is associated with your sense of sight and the southeast area of your home or workspace. When the fire element is in balance you feel passionate, healthy, vibrant and productive.
- Open blinds and curtains whenever possible to allow sunlight to enter your home or workspace.
- This is a good area for exercise, a kitchen or dining room.
- To support the fire element in the southeast, use warm accents colors for curtains, pillows, spreads, pottery, etc., in the spectrum of light pink to dark rose.
- Artwork that depicts desert scenes works best in southeast areas.
- Use a Himalayan Salt Lamp in the southeast area of any room to purify the environment and assist in balancing the fire element.
- Clutter in this area will affect your health, productivity and passion for life.
The Water Element
The water element is associated with your sense of taste and the northeast area of your home or workspace. It is also associated with spiritual and material growth. When the water element is in balance you feel very fluid and flexible and your inner and outer success blossoms.
- Place a fountain inside any northeast room or outside in the northeast area of your property.
- This is a good place for a meditation room or area to do your spiritual practices and creative work.
- Drink plenty of fresh water and stay well hydrated.
- Use light yellow colors as accents for walls, pillows, curtains, spreads, etc., in the northeast area of your home or workspace to enliven the water element.
- Art that contains bodies of water enhances the water element when hung in the northeast area.
- Clutter in this area will adversely affect your finances.
The Earth Element
The earth element is associated with the southwest area of your home or workspace and your sense of smell. When the earth is in balance, you feel very grounded and stable. You feel supported in your career and you experience more clarity regarding your life purpose.
- Indoor plants enhance the earth element and can be added to any southwest area in a home or workspace.
- This is a good area for restful sleep for the head of the house.
- Use earth tones such as browns, beige, and taupe to support grounding energy.
- Art that depicts earth scenes of mountains, forests and valleys bring a sense of wellbeing in the southwest.
- Heavier furniture works well in this area.
- Clutter in this area affects the stability of your career.
The Relationship Altar ~ Your Connection to the Divine
For those of us who have a limited amount of space, is there a way that we can use Vastu?
MM: Yes, anyone can find space for an altar! Altars created using the principles of Vastu support your connection to the unseen forces at work in your life. Over the years, so many of our clients have shared their stories of how Vastu altars have helped them find success, love, and fulfillment. One of the eight directional altars, the Relationship Altar, is one that we teach and write about in all our books. It will have positive impact if you follow the instructions below.
The Relationship Altar
Whatever form of love you wish to enhance or manifest in your life, a Relationship Altar will be your ally in supporting your heart’s desires and help you cultivate a deeper understanding of who you really you are. To make sure your altar speaks to your heart, place items upon your altar that you feel enhance its beauty. When looking at your altar, it should evoke a feeling of appreciation and upliftment.
The altar picture below is for inspiration only and to instruct you in the placement of the elements.
Relationship Altar Layout
Suggested Items for Your Altar
Remember to have the area you are using to place your altar on clean from dust or dirt. The Relationship Altar is placed in the northwest area of your home or office, on a windowsill, table or other surface. Place it on a north wall, which will support the concentration and focus you need for success.
- Use a compass to make sure your altar is in the proper location.
- Colors of yellow and blue should be represented in some of the pieces of the altar.
- Some suggested items that can be used for the air element in the northwest are standing chimes, feathers, incense, a bird figurine, an angel, fan, etc.
- You can energize your altar by hanging a 20mm blue crystal on a red string in increments of nine inches above the offering tray.
- The water element in the northeast could be a cup or bowl of water, or a vase in one of the altar colors. The water needs to be visible, so if it is in a vase, make sure that it is translucent or clear. You can also add fresh or silk flowers to the vase, as well. If fresh flowers are used, make sure your flowers are indeed fresh. They should be as alive as your dreams.
- To symbolize the earth element in the southwest, use a natural crystal or stones, like blue lace agate, or even pearls. A green plant or one that has yellow or blue flowers, like an African Violet, would also do nicely.
- A candle in the southeast is a good choice for the fire element. The plate or holder you set it on/in can be silver, blue or yellow. If you like to add a candle with fragrance, look for one that contains ylang ylang. You can also use an oil lamp. If using an oil lamp, look for one that is silver in color.
- The offering tray can be in colors of yellow or blue, made of silver colored metal, or clear glass; whatever you use, make it a complimentary addition to your altar.
- Your personal symbol, in the center of the altar behind the offering tray, might be a statue of Quan Yin, the goddess of compassion and mercy. You could also use a statue of Krishna, who exemplifies loving relationships. Besides using a statue, you can create a collage that evokes the experience you would like. Your collage can be made of old photographs or even magazine clippings whose inspiring words, symbols, and pictures of people uplift you. When you’re finished, it can be framed in a silver-colored metal frame.
- If this altar is to encourage a new partner relationship or to enhance an existing one, add items in pairs. Two fish, two doves, two hearts, etc., are symbolic of successful relationships.
- For a boost of cosmic energy, add a Moon Yantra to your offering tray to encourage an abundance of love. You can also add an appropriate Angel Card® or any other symbol, including gems or necklaces, of the correct corresponding colors to infuse your altar with energy.
The Activation Ceremony ~ Attracting Successful Relationships
You can also ignite your altar with the yantra of the influential planet that corresponds to the energies of the northwest, which is the moon. A yantra is a physical representation of a sound, or mantra, that emits a specific frequency.
There are thousands of yantras and associated mantras, each with a specific purpose. Yantras have the ability to create an intended shift or change in your life and the environment.
The Moon Yantra and its accompanying mantra support success in relationships and the stability of the mind. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a printable copy of the Moon Yantra. It can be used to ignite your Relationship Altar in the ceremony offered here.
The Moon Yantra Moon Yantra Activation Ceremony
- Stand or kneel in front of your altar.
- Light any candle or incense that is on your altar. If you have bells or chimes on your altar, ring them to purify the energy in the environment. The sound of bells eliminates stress and illuminates the present moment.
- Hold the Moon Yantra in your right hand and take ten to twelve long, slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose.
- Experience the feeling of having what you desire. Do not focus on specifics, just feelings such as happiness, a sense of peace, fulfillment, harmony, love, etc.
- Place the yantra on the offering tray.
- Use your right hand and extend the small (pinky) finger and your index finger, folding the two middle fingers in against your palm. Place your thumb over the top of these two fingers to hold them in place.
- With your hand in this mudra (a specific gesture and/or movement performed with the hands and fingers) facing the altar, move your arm forward and back nine times.
- Each time you extend your arm toward your altar you will say the following mantra with passion and intensity.
- Mantra: Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya Namaha Phonetic pronunciation: Om Na-mo Ba-ga-va-tay Va-su-day-vai-ya Na-ma-ha.
- Once you have completed this process, your altar is ignited.
- One important thing to remember is to feed your altar with your love and appreciation every day. The more energy you give it, in acknowledgement, love and appreciation, the more energy it has to work its magic. Doing so will positively influence the results you will have.
Michael and Robin Mastro are considered two of the foremost practitioners of Vastu Shastra in North America. They are teachers of yoga, meditation, and spiritual awareness techniques and the founders of Vastu Creations and the American Institute of Vastu. Corporate clients include Boeing, Intel, Microsoft, World Bank, Amazon and NASA, as well as thousands of individuals worldwide. Individuals seeking to align their homes and workspaces employ the Mastros to eliminate blocks to productivity, success, and wellbeing. Their books on Vastu have been recognized with awards and honors. For more information about the Mastros, please visit: www.vastucreations.com, www.americaninstituteofvastu.com or call 206-661-1117.
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.