My yoga asana practice has followed me from my early adolescence to now my early twenties and will continue to be a part of my life until the day I leave this physical body. Varying in intensity (ranging from over a year of a daily 90 minute practice, to struggling to fit a class in once a month, and everything in between) though always invoking the same energies within me. Yoga is what tunes me out of this physical realm and back into myself and the spiritual. The moment my body rests upon the mat this introspective ascent begins and within the first few minutes I have left this dimension and entered a higher. I am intoxicated with breath and movement. My paws are gray (a joke regarding my cat, who when is excited her fluffy paws turn from porcelain to silver).
Broadly defined, a Mandala is a geometric design symbolizing the universe, a cosmic diagram reminding us of the interrelatedness of all. The word Mandala loosely translates to “circle”, which is the first archetypical representation of sacred geometry. The pre-historical idea of a Mandala is first recognized in the earliest ages of India and perhaps even Indo-European religion. In the ancient sacred texts of the Rig Veda (roughly translating to “praise” “knowledge”, dating back to 1700-1100 BCE) and associated literature. “Mandala” is the term used for “chapter”, a sort of collation of hymns or mantras which were chanted in Vedic ceremonies. These divine hymns were believed to be the origins of this universe, whose sacred sounds contained the gentric patterns of beings and things, alluding to the idea of the Mandala represents both the tangible and intangible world; our celestial circles (solar, lunar, and planetary), conceptual circles such as family and friends, and also metaphysical ideas.
This word has been integrated into the practice of physical yoga, offering an extremely invigorating and deeply symbolic practice. A Mandala in the physical yoga practice is a circular sequence of poses, beginning facing one cardinal direction, ending facing the opposite (or coming fully back around), then inverting the sequence and performing it the opposite way, leading with the opposite side of the body. I have worked with Mandalas in practice before, but never has it resonated so deeply within me.
I began working with instructor Tina Templeman many moons ago, and she seamlessly and ceaselessly delivers a dynamic class. Our paths met again after quite some time yestereve. One of her primary influences, among many other trainings, is the master teacher Shiva Rea. Prana flow is the basis of Shiva’s teaching, embodying the ebb and flow of life through the practice of yoga. When working with Prana one physically works in accordance to breath which helps energetically make available the universal intelligence and conscious awareness that resides within each of us. This wisdom stems from the ancient teachings of Krishnamacharaya, Ayruveda, Tantra, and Somatics. Simply put, any influence of Shiva Rea’s teachings equates to a class with vibes of a deep, oscillating dance with the earth and its elements.
The class consisted of a series of different Mandalas. The beauty of the structure of a classic Vinyasa practice is that each posture is readying the body for the next or appropriately counter acting what the body has just done. The best way I can describe the class I experienced last night is that if a classic Vinyasa class were a rainbow, Tina’s class would have been an intricate, cyclical tie-dye. Though tie-dye may get messy this one was perfectly, complexly clean. Each Mandala building towards the next, offering relief when needed, invigoration and difficulty when desired, and once our bodies were at their peak of strength and openness we were offered the chance to achieve a quite difficult posture (supreme forearm stand, and headstand to bridge then back to headstand). And my favorite aspect, we ended as we began (an oscillating Pranayama exercise). The class was a perfect representation to the essence of the Mandala, consisting of short Mandalas, concluding to realize those are encompassed by a whole.
The idea of a Mandala to me is comparative to the idea of a microcosm and a macrocosm. It has reminded me, when I needed it the most that we are a direct representation of the universe. We are the cosmos.
For an experience such as my own, catch Madame Templeman at any of these studios:
Be Luminous Yoga: Monday 7:15pm dynamic flow, Tuesday 9:30am dynamic flow& 12:00pm hour of power, Saturday 8:00am dynamic flow & 9:45 L1+
Yogabliss: Monday & Thursday 9:30am
Sleep sweet, kitties.