“The word “mandala” is from the classical Indian language of Sanskrit. Loosely translated to mean “circle,” a mandala is far more than a simple shape. It represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself–a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite, the world that extends both beyond and within our bodies and minds.” – from What is a Mandala?.
Coloring or creating mandalas or circular patterns is part of quite a few ancient traditions. These circle patterns appear in the Navajo and Aztec traditions, Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Christianity. Why does it resonate so?
Without fail, our students of all ages love coloring mandalas. The activity is relaxing and focusing, and provides a great opportunity for opening up meaningful discussions with older children (they tend to be less self conscious about participating in a discussion while coloring). This recent article on the Huffington Post talks about the physiological benefits of the practice.
“When coloring, we activate different areas of our two cerebral hemispheres," says psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala.
"The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress."
One of the primary things we are teaching in children’s yoga are tools for students to be able to trigger their own relaxation response and calming and focusing their minds and nervous system. Coloring mandalas is only one age-appropriate way to do that, but it’s also one that’s easy for parents to implement at home. Just try it! And, be sure to join in and note your own state of being as you color away.
Also recommended from our blog:
Experiencing Mindfulness Through Mandalas: A Meditative Activity for Children
Jennifer Mueller, MA, E-RYT, RCYT, has been teaching yoga students of all ages since 2008 and directs a children's and family yoga program in Washington DC. In addition to being a trainer for ChildLight Yoga® and Yoga 4 Classrooms®, Jen holds a variety of children’s yoga certifications. She is also a prenatal yoga instructor, childbirth educator, a Certified Educator of Infant Massage (CEIM) through Infant Massage USA, and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Jen completed her adult yoga teacher training at Willow Street Yoga in Takoma Park, MD… read more here.
*The original version of this article published by https://breathingspacedc.co