“The sea washes away the ills of all mankind.” ~ Euripides (420 BC)
words by Marge & Maite, cover photo by Nabil Ghandi
Have you ever felt hypnotised by the regular motion of the waves? That moment of expansion that feels like eternity…That moment in which you feel you could spend countless hours getting lost in thoughts or meditating in front of the sea, the element that pervades the surface of the Earth with its powerful energy and liquid matter. What we call breeze, is the fascinating breath of the ocean, and observing it naturally induces in a state of calm equal only to intense, focussed Dristhi yoga practice.
On a deeper level, immersing into the ocean also has the ability to systematically push into a gentle state of mind in connection to the elements. This is diving in all its forms; while scuba diving allows to stay longer underwater, freediving is a sort of active meditation in confrontation with ourselves and the immensity of the ocean. Both disciplines have striking similarities to the essence and purpose of yoga practice, that is to connect inward to the timeless, limitless nature of the spirit or the “true self”.
The deeper and longer one dives, the darker the surroundings and the stronger the pressure on the body and on the mind. The same happens during yoga and meditation practice. While Yin or Hatha practice strikes a chord in one’s deepest self, Vipassana meditation confronts with the sounds of the abyss of the soul. Accomplishments on the mat as well as under the water amplify as we tune with our breath and with our deepest nature.
Yoga and diving are associated to motion and change; while the air element is regarded as the point where consciousness takes on a particular direction or goal, while the water element is considered the river upon which life flows, the healing force that unites different entities and that brings about waves of emotion. This is why filling the lungs with the air of the ocean to balance the mind and spirit as we practice makes a massive difference, compared to practicing yoga elsewhere.
Scientific research has shown that sea air is charged with negative ions, which allow our body to absorb more oxygen. This is why practicing yoga in front of the ocean is particularly beneficial. Other factors that add up to a beachfront yoga session are the healing effect the sound and the view of the crashing sea waves have on our mind. Also, the proximity to water, which makes up 60% of our body and covers 70% of the earth surface. We belong to the ocean, the ocean is part of us.
This belief is the driving concept behind the idea of yoga at MandalaBlue. Born in 2014 as a partnership with Blue Marine Resort, a seafront studio in Gili Air, it helps divers and free divers to improve their performance and yogis from across the world to get a better connection with the depths of their souls and spirit. In this way, diving, free diving and yoga influence and feed each other in a very powerful way. Like the much sought after state of mind can be achieved in the water through meditation in kumbhaka (freediving) and in active contemplation (scuba diving).
MandalaBlue Yoga is a wordplay which reflects this combination: “circle” in Sanskrit, mandalas are symbols representing the universe and wholeness and are used as spiritual guidance tools to induce meditation and trance. With their intricate geometrical patterns and interconnected shapes and colours, mandalas are used as a form of deep concentration and meditation aimed at reminding us of our relation with infinity, which exists within and beyond our being. When we meditate concentrating on a mandala, it is common to feel a gradual fall into its colours and patterns and experience intuitive thoughts. A bit like when we dive 20mt with one breath and we observe the water turning into darker and darker shades of blue and our mind gets clearer and clearer as we experience the effects of breath-holding on our mind.
From this perspective, this practice cannot be separated from its surrounding environment and sources much of its energy from it. At the same time, the much sought after Each practice stands by itself and feeds the other with a variety of ways to balance the mind and the body through the breath. The word Blue is a tribute to the ocean, to the Big Blue that covers all and makes all this possible, allowing us to plunge in the Earth’s energy that surrounds us and composes us, even to our deepest chemical and DNA level of our energetic and physical essence. And this manifests as soon as we take a couple of strokes or by taking a long look at the horizon.
MandalaBlue Yoga is currently the only yoga studio on the three Gili islands that is right on the beach. A space where to connect with yourselves and with nature at the same time, MandalaBlue is more a concept than a specific place; it is an approach that focuses on finding rhythm within you while you practice in tune with the motion, changes and unpredictability of the ocean and encourages you to explore the water element within yourself.
Just like in life, waves come and go and you never know in which way the wind will blow again.However, this external aspect in not important; what matters is how open we are to receive the waves when they come and how we hold ourselves in stillness and bliss when there is quietness.