Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After School Yoga: Mandalas

This past Monday was the last class of the fall session's after school yoga program. We had a yoga party of sorts. We statred with a few warm-ups to center ourselves and heat up the energies in our bodies.

I brought Mandalas for the students to color, so we spread out at the tables and listened to Kitaro's "Silk Road". I had brought 4 different designs and each yogi/yogini picked out the one that they were most drawn to.

While they colored and the music played softly in the background, I read to them the story called "The Elephant And The Dog" from the book "Buddha At Bedtime" by Dharamachari Nagaraja. The moral of the story is even the most unlikely of characters can become friends.

What is a Mandala?

The meaning of mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning "circle." Mandalas are geometric designs symbolic of the universe that are used as an aid to meditation.

How do I use a Mandala?

1. Set your intention for your practise (An intention is a promise you make to yourself and a way of putting logic and beliefs into action. One way to set your intention is to focus on something you are grateful for. You can also set it based on a quality you want (spontaneity, flexibility, peace of mind, inspiration, concentration...) in your life and/or yoga practice.

The design of the mandala is meant to attract the viewer visually, so much so that the mind becomes absorbed by it. The design’s hypnotic effect relaxes the mind. With a relaxed mind, the individual is able to focus his attention inwards rather than focusing on life’s usual distractions. In this state, imagination flows which in turn increases creativity, sympathy, and self respect.

2. Focus on the mandala. Let your eyes take in the radiance of its designs. Release your mind. Recognize when your mind wanders back to your list of choirs or your concerns and simply bring your attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Let the mandala absorb your attention. In time, you will begin to feel luminous and fresh and spontaneous thoughts may arise. Relax and allow these thoughts in. If at any time you begin to feel lost, uncomfortable or distracted, re-focus your attention back on the mandala.

Everyone’s experience will be different but meditating with the mandala can be relaxing and you can come away with a clarity concerning the intention that you set at the beginning of your practise.

The last fifteen minutes of class was time for favorite poses. The students could show a pose that they had learned during the program or make up one of their own. I saw crow, wheels, camel, tree, dancer's, fish in a boat, lunges, squats, picture frame, candle, triangle...)

Thank you to all my yogis and yoginis!


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