Mandalas are sacred geometrical images which have the power to focus and elevate our minds. As we draw, paint, or even just gaze at a Mandala, without thinking about it or intending it to happen, we can come into a state of meditation.
Children love to draw and paint with colors, and drawing or coloring Mandalas is one of the best ways to make this favorite past-time into a yogic practice — into a meditation.
What Exactly is a Mandala?
The source of the word Mandala is from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit, and means a circular form with a symbolic meaning. The Mandala represents wholeness and life, and you can find it in many traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Native American traditions, Judaism, and more.
Mandalas are circles. The Mandala symbolizes the essence of our existence because you can find it on all the micro and macro levels of life.
They exist everywhere around us; in the flowers, in sea shells, in fruits, in snow flakes... everywhere! In everything that has a center that radiates inside and out, there is this perfection called Mandala.
Introducing Mandalas to Children
First, explain what Mandalas are. For example: Mandalas are circles. Where do you see Mandalas in the room, or outside of the room? We are all sitting in a circle and therefore we are forming a Mandala; the clock on the wall is a Mandala; the bottom of your water bottle is a Mandala; your earrings; etc.
Ask the children where they see Mandalas on their bodies. In the eye, face, top of the head, belly button? Your whole body is a Mandala. The belly button is the center of it.
I show my students a Mandala in a flower, like a sunflower, or I bring a kiwi and an orange and cut them in half to show them the Mandala inside.
Have Your Kids Color Their Own Mandala
Play pleasant and quiet background music and sit everyone in a circle. I find that the most comfortable pose to color Mandalas in is Child's Pose. Hand out Mandala coloring pages (choose the level of complexity and intricacy to fit the ages of the children in your class), markers, colored pencils, etc.
Guide the children to observe the following rules:
- No talking.
- Don’t look at the Mandalas of your friends (except at the end if they want to show you their creation).
- Don’t rush. Color your Mandala as slowly as possible; try to be the last one to finish. If you didn’t complete coloring your Mandala during the class you’ll be able to continue next time or at home.
It takes about 45-60 minutes to color a Mandala, and I only allow about 10 minutes for it at the end of the class (before or after relaxation or instead of relaxation), so I write their names on the back and bring it back for a few classes until it’s done.
If it’s a summer camp or another situation where I have a class with them every day, we can take a whole hour to focus just on Mandalas, bringing them to completion.
When they have created their own personal Mandala, they can hang it somewhere nice in the yoga classroom or at home, and use it as a tool for meditation or as a way to focus and relax. Tell them to breathe deeply, gaze at the center of the Mandala, and let all thoughts or emotions just pass by without following them. Slowly dive deeper into the center of the Mandala and into the harmony and love it represents.
You can also have all of the children color one big Mandala together, although it’s less focused than doing it by yourself. Have your website address on the bottom of it and hang it at the entrance to the school!
Creating Your Own Mandalas
To create your own personal Mandala from scratch (as opposed to just coloring an existing Mandala) you will need a piece of paper, canvas cloth, or even tree bark, a pencil, and colors. You can use a compass, plates, bowls, cups, or even a pencil connected to a needle with a thread to create different size circles.
Find a place where you feel comfortable and play relaxing music. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Think of all the circular forms that are familiar to you from nature. Allow yourself to feel circular movements in your body and even let yourself move with these circles. Let any thought or emotion that comes up just flow through you.
When you feel ready, sit comfortably with your pencil and paper and draw the symbol or form that will be the center of your Mandala. You can fold the paper in four and reopen it to create four quarters of the circle that can mirror each other for a more harmonious Mandala.
Let yourself play with the different shapes; circles, lines in all directions, spirals, flowers, animals, or anything else that feels right for you. You can create big shapes and then fill them with smaller details. Create your own unique Mandala — play and enjoy!
You can start the practice of Mandala coloring from ages five and up, when they are more likely to have the ability to color within the lines.
Now all that is left is to actually do it!
Have you done a mandala coloring meditation in your Kids yoga class? How did it go? Share with us in the comments below!