Mandala when used in yoga or religious practice, is a way of using the creation of an intricate pattern to focus a practice in order to obtain a desired result. The creation can be physical in nature or merely one that is created in the mind.
From Where is the Name Mandala Yoga derived?
You’ve most likely seen a mandala at some point without knowing that’s what it was. The word has become something of a catch-all for a specific type of pattern that’s currently quite popular among Westerners for use in tattoo art. If you’re familiar with South Asian or South-East Asian culture then you have already know what it is, but for those that are uninitiated, a bit of an introduction is in order.
My knowledge of mandala comes from a familiarity with South Asian culture and from my knowledge of Hindi. In Hindi it’s a word that loosely translated, means circle or completion. It’s a spiritual symbol in Hinduism of the universe, and the way that everything is connected to every other thing. Because of that mandala yoga is often referred to as circular flow yoga.
What is The Purpose of Mandala Traditionally?
A physical representation in both the Hindu and Buddhist religions of a mandala would be drawn as a square inside of a circle, with gates on each side for deities that aid in meditation to enter. There are levels of complexity to a traditional mandala which would look somewhat like this Tibetan Chenrezig mandala:
A completed traditional mandala, serves as a sort of receptacle if you will, for the deities that you invite into your essence. You invite these deities by performing a number of different rituals, beginning with it’s creation. It’s normally created from the centre outwards, the dot in the centre a representation of seed or beginning. That dot is then consecrated to a particular deity such as Durga, Vishnu or Saraswati for instance.
The act of drawing it, releases the energies of an individual, which are then imbued within the mandala. This energy is realised in lines that extend from the centre dot outwards. As one draws, other lines also appear and intersect, these intersections are what create the triangular geometric patterns of the mandala.
What is The Purpose of A Mandala, How is It Practiced?
The purpose of a mandala is to discover the divinity of oneself, to gain enlightenment and to reaffirm the sanctity of the universe. This is one reason the pattern is popular for bridal henna, it’s both a blessing for, and a reaffirmation of oneness.
So now that you’ve learned about what a mandala is you may be thinking, yes but what does that have to do with Mandala Yoga? Well, it’s patterned on the principles that are used to create a traditional mandala. The standard form is to begin in the centre of the mat, if you use one, using all four points and extending the forms outward in circular motions ending at the place where you began.
You would travel 360 degrees in four parts, or sequences around the mat. Each part can have a specific focus such as opening up some part of the physical body. Or it can be focused on something less tangible, such as decreasing stress or strengthening concentration. Since yoga is at first a practice that is concerned with the understanding of oneself and environment, having a focal point such as a mandala while learning how to accomplish this understanding is truly helpful, if not essential.
Who is Most Likely To Benefit From Mandala Yoga?
Imagine for a moment that you’re the sort of person whose mind is always parsing some bit of information or the other. It’s caused you to become stressed in your daily life. You aren’t sleeping well which in turn means that you aren’t performing well in most aspects of your life, perhaps your job performance has started to suffer. Perhaps it’s causing you to become an unpleasant person to be around, and you’ve begun to alienate friends and family. Finally, you decide that you need to do something to get back on track before your life goes completely up in flames.
Once you’ve decided to do something to rectify the situation, you settle on yoga because you’ve heard that it’s a good practice to help realign your mind and body connection. But because your mind never truly shuts down, you aren’t likely to get the benefits from yoga that you seek, not without a helping aid at least. This is where Mandala Yoga is helpful.
What Makes It Particularly Helpful?
Mandala is key to focus, particularly for beginners who are in constant multi-tasking mode, and these days who isn’t? It’s beneficial because it gives that multitasking mind something complex to hold onto and thus keeps your mind engaged and less likely to wander off. This happens because you need to learn, memorize and replicate the intricate patterns, and know the reasons why you’re performing them to accomplish what you wish.
Now That You’ve Decided to Take The Plunge.
Your yoga journey, need not be a spiritual one that seeks to decrease stress or cultivate oneness with the environment. It may simply be that you want to strengthen your body in some way, even in this less lofty endeavor Mandala Yoga can be helpful.
Ultimately, the choice comes down to you and what your desire is when practicing. What do you want your journey to be about? What is it that you wish to accomplish or gain from yoga practice? Whatsoever it is that your desired outcome is, everyone from the new practitioner to the seasoned veteran can benefit from Mandala Yoga.
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