Mandala yoga, also known as Mandala Vinyasa, or Mandala Flow, is a type of yoga that uses the principles of mandala design to create a flowing, meditative practice that moves around the mat 360 degrees.
Mandalas are circular designs that represent the universe or the cycles of life. In yoga, mandalas help focus the mind and create a sense of peace and well-being.
Mandala yoga sequences are fun, energizing, and creative and a great way to spice up your yoga practice.
In this article we will discuss the following:
- What are Mandalas?
- Origins of Mandala Yoga
- Benefits of practicing Mandala Yoga
- How To Create a Mandala Yoga Sequence
- A Mandala Yoga Sequence
- A Mandala Flow Class
Let’s dive right into this yoga style!
What are Mandalas?
The origins of Mandalas can be traced to the ancient cultures of India and Tibet.
In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mandalas are sacred geometric designs that represent the universe or the circular nature of all life.
They are often used as aids to meditation and contemplation.
The word “mandala” comes from the Sanskrit word “manda,” which means “circle”, hence they are typically circular in shape and with a central point or image surrounded by concentric circles and other geometric patterns.
Origins of Mandala Yoga
Mandala yoga is a relatively new form of yoga, having been developed in the early 2000s and inspired by the mandala shape and its multiple meanings.
It is a practice to help focus the mind and promote a sense of inner peace, and in it, practitioners move through a series of poses that form a circular pattern on the mat, rotating 360 degrees.
The yoga poses, or asanas, are chosen to reflect the different aspects of the mandala, such as the center, the periphery, and the connecting paths.
This practice is often accompanied by the chant of mantras or by visualizing the mandala in the mind’s eye.
Benefits of Practicing Mandala Yoga
This type of yoga uses the principles of mandala design to create a flowing, meditative practice, and just like the mandalas themselves, it is used to help focus the mind and develop a sense of peace and well-being.
Here are 7 benefits of practicing a mandala sequence:
1# Improved focus and concentration
Mandala sequences are great for improving your focus and concentration.
As you move through the sequence, you will need to focus on your breath and on the sensations in your body to remain present, and to remember what pose comes next!
This can help to train your mind to be more present and focused in challenging situations that may arise off the mat.
2# Reduced stress and anxiety
The repetitive motions and the pranayama exercises that often accompany this practice can help you let go of stagnant energy, stress, and anxious feelings.
3# Increased energy and vitality
Boost your energy levels with the flowing movements of this style and use deep breathing to help you increase oxygenation and circulation, increasing the free flow of prana in the body, hence energizing and revitalizing you.
4# Improved flexibility & strength
Mandala yoga can help to improve your flexibility as well as muscle strength.
Poses in this style often foster stability, and the circular sequences are designed to stretch and strengthen all of the major muscle groups in your body.
5# Improved balance
Mandala yoga can help to improve your balance, both physical and mental.
The practice of poses and transitions will require you to use your core muscles to maintain your balance. Over time, this can help you to become more stable and coordinated.
When it comes to mental balance and harmony, this yoga style requires a great degree of concentration, teaching you to be more present in other difficult life situations.
6# Increased self-awareness
Become more aware of your body and your mind as you move through a mandala sequence; you will become more aware of your breath, muscles, and emotions, developing a greater sense of self-awareness.
7# A sense of peace and well-being
The repetitive movements and the focus on your breath can help to calm your mind and release tension in your physical body.
With regular practice, you may experience a greater sense of peace and ease in your daily activities.
How To Create a Mandala Yoga Sequence
In mandala yoga, practitioners move through a series of poses that form a circular pattern on the mat, going around 360 degrees before repeating the sequence on the other side, taking the entire sequence 360 degrees in the opposite direction.
This is a fun way to sequence and practice, and it can take a little trial and error until it works out.
If you’re interested in designing your own mandala sequence, here are some tips to get you started:
1# Choose a theme
Start by choosing a theme for your practice.
This could be something like “cultivating love,” “exploring inner peace,” “tapping into resilience”, “surrendering to the cycle of life”, or “connecting to abundance”, for example, but you can get as creative as you’d like to inspire your mandala sequence and yoga class.
You could also choose a family of yoga postures to focus on and bring them into your mandala flow and class theme.
Perhaps you bring other limbs of yoga into it as well.
2# Choose the postures
When designing your mandala sequence, make sure you choose postures to fit your own needs and abilities as well as to align with the theme and include the use of props.
The most important thing is to choose yoga poses that feel good for you and that will align with the intention of your practice and with your needs, whether you’re the teacher or the practitioner.
3# Arrange the sequence
If you are a beginner (teacher or practitioner), you may want to start with fewer poses and gradually increase the number as you become more comfortable with how to design a Mandala yoga class.
If you have been practicing yoga for a while, perhaps you want to add more postures, intricate transitions, or physically demanding variations to your Mandala sequence in order to challenge your body and mind.
Once you have chosen your poses, arrange them in a circular pattern on your mat, or on a piece of paper. This may take a while!
Start with a pose that feels grounding and centering, such as Mountain Pose or Downward-Facing Dog, or any other symmetrical posture you can return to after finalizing the first circle or side.
Give yourself time to come up with a sequence of postures that accessibly, cohesively, and coherently build up on each other.
Keep in mind that the sequence will continue to move around the mat 360 degrees before switching to the second side.
Finally, end your sequence with a pose that feels calming and peaceful, such as Child’s Pose or Savasana.
4# Practice a few times
After designing your own mandala yoga sequence, it may take a few attempts to tweak the order of the postures and the transitions until it feels smooth and meditative.
With a little practice, you will be able to create a mandala yoga sequence that is perfect for you or your students.
A Mandala Yoga Sequence
Here is a sample sequence for you to try when first starting to explore the Mandala yoga style:
- Begin in Tadasana, mountain pose at the top of your yoga mat.
- Inhale, lift your arms up into Urdhva Hastasana
- Exhale, fold into Uttanasana
- Inhale to Ardha Uttanasana
- Exhale, step your left foot back into Ashta Chandrasana
- Inhale, lift your arms up
- Exhale, open up to Virabhadrasana II
- Inhale stretch to Utthita Tadasana
- Exhale, turn to the long side of your mat and bring your hands to your hips
- Inhale, turn your toes out, heels in
- Exhale, bend your knees for Utkata Konasana
- Inhale, stretch back up to Utthita Tadasana
- Exhale, turn your left toes to the back of your mat, and bend your left knee, Virabhadrasana II.
- Inhale, square your hips to the front, lift your arms up, to Ashta Chandrasana
- Exhale, hands in front of your heart, chest parallel to the ground
- Inhale, propel forward into Virabhadrasana III
- Exhale in the posture
- Inhale, rise up to Tadasana Pavanmuktasana
- Exhale, to Tadasana facing the back of your mat
- Repeat the sequence on the same side
Once you’re back facing the top of your mat, repeat the sequence twice on the other side, this time turning clockwise.
A Mandala Yoga Flow Class
If you’re interested in giving a Mandala sequence a try, check out this fun 40-minute mandala yoga flow:
Mandala yoga sequences and flows are an innovative way to explore the practice of yoga drawing from the principles of Mandala shapes.
Whether you’re a beginner yoga practitioner, you’re a seasoned yogi, or a yoga instructor, exploring the mandala yoga style can spark your creativity and focus, as well as provide you with many physical benefits.
For inspiration on other themes for your yoga class or sequence click here.