“Marulamala Yoga” is a wordplay fusion of my passion for yoga in all it physical and spiritual forms and my love for Africa, Asia and all their unceasing natural wonders. My wanderlust led me to a joyful period travelling, living and working in countries as diverse as they are many. Along the way I have learned that cultural experience and the people you meet and befriend provide the fundamental means of learning about yourself and your potential purpose. I’ve discovered home is most definitely not attached to bricks and mortar – it’s where your heart lies and that doesn’t have to be one particular location. My heart draws me to a few special places on this earth time and time again. Once beautifully described to me as being on your song line – the places that are meant to be in your life will be clear – the various elements of life’s symphony as it plays out I guess. South Africa and its bushland is a very deep un-mistakeable base note on my song line and has become my primary home. Asia and particularly Japan also remain a constant chime, never far from my attention. Travel and the learning will continue of course – familiar notes need to be played out within a recurring chorus – but with new crescendos providing the opportunity to maybe add another new note or two here and there.
My blog is an outlet for me to share my passions and experiences with anyone who is like-minded or interested.
The teaching schedule at the studio and other local and international locations from time to time will be published here as well as that of all the wonderful teachers that have come together under Marulamala Yoga. Please also see our Facebook page. Class descriptions and teacher bios give more detail on teaching style, influences and experience.
Please also feel free to add your thoughts and comments if you would like to share them on any of the Marulamala Yoga media resources.
The history of the Marula tree goes back thousands of years. Often known as the tree that drives elephants mad – they love the fruit of the Marula which is often in a lightly fermented state when it drops to the ground! Archaeological evidence shows the Marula tree was a source of nutrition as long as ago as 10,000 years B.C. Marula, Scelerocarya birrea, and is one of Africa’s botanical treasures. The fruit and also the nut, are rich in minerals and vitamins. Legends about Marula abound – from its use as a food source and its magical qualities as a healing ingredient, to its virility/fertility properties, and the many uses of its bark, leaves, fruit, nut and kernels.
In the Buddhist tradition, mala beads are prayer beads used for meditation. Traditional malas have 108 strung beads. The number 108 is said to represent the number of days the Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree before he became enlightened.
Mala in Sanskrit means garland and a japa mala is used for keeping count while reciting, chanting or mentally repeating mantra or the name of a deity – japa in Sanskrit is the description of this practice.
Yoga Mala, was written by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, (Guruji) the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and first published in India in 1962, although only available in an English language translation since 1999. As I mentioned above, ‘mala’ means garland in Sanskrit (as in Malasana or garland pose). The garland here refers to the gathering of the teachings and wisdom and essentially the advice of Guruji – here relating to Ashtanga yoga. Likewise it was my intention to use ‘mala’ partly as a reference to a drawing together of thoughts experiences advice and teachings relative to the practice of yoga and life experience (not necessarily limited to the practice of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga). My own yoga practice and the prelude to my teaching life was heavily influenced by the practice of Ashtanga yoga in its traditional form. It is natural for me to reference it and the practice still shapes my own personal practice but is also not limited to it. I met and studied with Guruji and his grandson Sharath in my early days. The impact and the dissemination and interpretation of his teachings via the lineage or handing down method through many respected teachers after him of course remains within me.
The book Yoga Mala is divided into two parts. In part 1 Guruji explains the theory and philosophy behind Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. This includes the eight limbs of Ashtanga yoga which is the order of the spiritual path where the asana or physical element of practice is just one element (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and Samadhi). In Part 2 each pose of the Primary series is illustrated and explained. However, they are not presented well and it is not easy to follow as a flowing sequence even if you are familiar with the practice! Guruji had cautioned against learning yoga from books and here this begins to make sense: Yoga Mala is therefore most useful as an explanation of Guruji’s history and philosophy and insightful advice rather than a practical guide to the Ashtanga vinyasa method.
Picking up on that thread and intention, I hope you find the yoga and philosophy extracts, links and discussions posted here from time to time to be not so much a guide to practice but more a gathering up and collection of helpful advice and tips. If there are also burning questions – please post creating a forum for interested readers (and me) to offer opinions or advice.