Mala is a Sanskrit term that means garland. In India, there are many different kind of malas. Japamala are made from sacred beads strung on a thread, and are used for counting and keeping focused on the repetition of a mantra. Pushpamala are made from flowers strung together, and are offered in devotion in homes and temples. Pattabhi Jois titled his 1962 book ‘Yoga Mala‘ and Ashtanga Yoga can be thought of as a mala, with each movement like a bead, to be counted and focused on, each asana beautiful like a flower, all strung on the thread of the breath and repeated like a mantra.

This year marks the centenary of the birth of Pattabhi Jois and in the ‘Monthly Primary Series’ classes at Whitespace Yoga & Wellbeing Studio we are celebrating this anniversary.

In our January class we explored the idea of ‘mala’ as a route into the specific vinyasa structure of each asana. Everyone chose an asana and then using a thread, and beads, we all constructed our own unique mala representing the vinyasa movements for the asana posture we had chosen. Each bead is a vinyasa. The continuous loop of thread is the breath, taking us from standing to standing, through the vinyasa. And then we practiced the movements for these asana.

Can you work out which asanas we chose? What do the larger beads represent? What about the extra knots in the thread?

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February’s class is on 14 February 2015 and we’ll be exploring our hearts with Ashtanga Yoga.