Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Henna Mean?

Henna is a non-toxic natural dye which is made from the henna plant. It is commonly used for hair dye or for temporary body art. Henna is believed to have originated as a form of body art more than 5,000 years ago, and was practiced across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The name, henna, can also be used to refer to the body art itself, though this is also known as mehndi.

Henna has become well known in the yoga community in the West as a form of body art where yoga-inspired designs, such as mandalas and lotus flowers, are used to show a student's devotion to their yoga practice.


Yogapedia Explains Henna

Henna is particularly popular in India, where mehndi is often applied before a wedding, typically on the bride’s hands and feet. Traditionally, it is said that when a bride wears henna designs, the darker the color, the more her husband will love her. It also features in many religious and cultural festivals, such as Karva Chauth, Diwali and Eid.

Henna is usually made into a paste that is then piped, syringed or painted onto the skin in intricate patterns. It needs to be left on the skin for a period of time to allow for the staining to occur, then the dried paste can be flaked off. The stain is initially orange in color, but darkens over several days to a reddish brown. It will then gradually wear off, but can last weeks.

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