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The Malas defined:

  • The malas are like impurities. The dust that covers the mirrors of our hearts. It creates confusion and suffering and yoga is then the means to clean the dust , the malas, away and allow the true heart to shine through.

From Amy: In this case mala being a “cloak” or a “veil” rather than mala like the bead.  These veils are like coverings which conceal our true nature, like a film that settles on the mirror of our hearts, obscuring clarity. Like a floor which collects dust bunnies, or tarnish on silver that dulls its shine, the malas collect on our consciousness.  Yet, the silver is still shiny underneath, the mirror at its essence is still reflective, and the floor can be “swiffered”.

Yoga is the swiffer for your heart.

Dust bunnies are going to accumulate just by the very nature of you being alive. Every time we forget how miraculous we actually are, more dust bunnies arrive. Life is just that way, we forget. And shit happens. We get hurt.

We say that the Malas are God-given, for every time we forget our greatness, we get to delight in re-remembering again. You are supposed to forget.  And each time you remember, you grow, you expand, you become even more of yourself.

Anava-mala: feeling of unworthiness, longing, insecurity, feeling of separateness, low self-esteem.

  • located in the heart
  • caused by cloaking of desire (iccha shakti)
  • If our fullness is hidden from us, it becomes desire for fullness (raga), bringing feelings of unworthiness (anava mala)
  • “Impurity of smallness; finitizing principle.” The individualizing veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. It is the source of finitude and ignorance, the most basic of the three bonds (anava, karma, maya) which temporarily limit the soul.”
  • When Iccha ( you also can use the term Sat) gets covered by Anava-mala then our sense of fullness becomes impure. We suddenly feel we are lacking; we feel fragmented.  The natural outcome of anava-mala is to then to increase the water element and increase Kapha which can cause depression.  When Anava-mala is then lifted by polishing the mirror through practice, we feel our natural state of Iccha which is peace. We are full again. From Leanne’s Blog
  • water
  • kalpha
  • when cleared> peace

Mayiya-mala: too much object, only seeing difference, inability to see unity, can’t reveal self/be vulnerable

  • located in the 3rd eye
  • We can learn how to open to and support this current of energy within us, and give it expression in our bodies and our lives. When we believe we can’t know this, we get ignorance (avidya), where we make judgments based on difference, i.e. , “that object is separate from me” (mayiya mala). Even taking steps toward opening to the flow of universal energy within is Alignment.
  • When Jnana ( you can also use Chit) gets covered by Mayiya-mala our sense of connectedness becomes impure. We see difference- we become prejudiced. Mayiya-mala is related to the fire element and when it increases then Pitta increases and we become angry. When Mayiya-mala is lifted we feel love. From Leanne’s Blog
  • fire
  • pitta
  • when cleared> love

Karma-mala: inability to take action, feel powerless

  • located in the pelvis
  • Caused by cloaking of kriya/action
  • When Kriya ( or Ananda) is covered by Karma-mala, then we lose the agency to act- we feel powerless. Kriya is related to Air and when it becomes out of balance then Vata is increased and we experience anxiety. When Karama-mala is lifted we feel joy.From Leanne’s Blog
  • As the great epic the Baghavada Gita advises, “Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” Yoga is about taking action. When the power to act is hidden from us, we feel impotent (kala) and anxious (karma mala). When rediscovered, we remember the immense possibility of even our subtlest action to affect the world in a positive way, and delight in even the smallest action as an expression of the highest good within ourselves. From Jessica’s site
  • air
  • vata
  • when cleared> joy

The malas then in some way help move the spanda back and forth between these states of emotions. The yoga practice helps create longer periods in the higher vibrations of peace, love and joy but we all feel the negative emotions sometimes too. It is very natural. What is really amazing about tantra metaphysics is that they have a method to get from the lower, darker, vibrations to the higher ones. We don’t have to stay angry, we don’t have to stay depressed. We can learn to recognize that as part of the spanda and use techniques to help us get back to a more desirable plane of being. From Leanne’s Blog


“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it.
I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

~Diane Ackerman

“If you want to change the world, then be your own focus for a celebration of life. Really, fundamentally, at the very core of your being, be thankful you are alive, that you’ve got this opportunity, with these molecules, at this moment. Be thankful! Be a celebrant! Be thankful that you are alive and then look around to see who else is at the party!”

Patch Adams ( movie )



Theme: Adding more beauty to the world

HQ: Fullness and Expressiveness

Actions: IBB (SBL, HABB)

Pinnacle: X pose (twisted lunge thigh stretch)

The theme for today’s class is “adding more beauty to the world”. I chose this theme after seeing a few plays this week that got me thinking about art and artistic expression. The plays were dark and political, one of them was kind of disturbing. They were important plays, but difficult to watch. They got me thinking about the way that I choose to express myself, what is important to me in art and what I think will be effective. What I came to in thinking about this was that the way that I choose to express myself in art directly aligns with one of the highest purposes of Anusara Yoga, which is celebrating the Supreme by adding more beauty to the world. It becomes a service to add beauty, to the world, that becomes our worship.

I think this is because beauty inspires me. When I see or create beauty, it builds my appetite, I want to see and create more beauty! So beauty builds on beauty. And this doesn’t just apply to art, it also applies to the way we live our lives. We can live in a way that adds beauty to the world, just in the way we hold our relationships, do our work, cook our food. Our yoga practice can be a way of adding more beauty to the world also- in Anusara, part of the practice is making the pose a full expression of yourself, leaving an energetic imprint on the world.

So today we are going to play with that, making the poses a full expression of ourselves, and adding more beauty to the world.

Meditation: set an intention, where in your life do you want to add more beauty? seal this into your heart.

  • warmups – sun breaths and folding (tadasana to uttanasana)
  • SN – straight leg lunge, full stretch
  • dancing crescent moon (one foot behind)
  • SN – crescent lunge, gentle twist
  • IBB demo     -everyone come into plank, let bum sag down, how does that feel?  Gather around. Today the action is IBB, physical components of that are lengthening from waist to armpits, the heart lifts and the head of the armbones pin back. See the contrast in plank (Demonstrate – sagging, crunching in back vs. inner body lifting, integrity)  Now everyone try that standing, pretend you are in plank, let body sag, now, (instruct actions of IBB) feel the difference.
  • Vira 1 with thumbs hooked, really get experience of IBB
  • Utkatasana > prayer twist > prayer twist lunge
  • Parsvakonasana>Trikonasana
  • Trikonasana with partner (one hand on hip rooting, one hand on top of head, extending out – really focus on action of lengthening out of waist, fullness of torso, extending through head)
  • Natarajasana > Standing Split > Lunge > Side Plank
  • Cobra > Salabhasana > Ardha Bhekasana
  • Anjaneyasana Prep > with thigh stretch
  • X pose (pinnacle)
  • Pigeon Prep
  • Setu Bandha
  • Ardha Matseyendrasana
  • Happy Baby
  • Savasana