Yoga and Art: Creating 2 Kinds of Bracelets. Sound interesting? Let’s look at a day in my Yoga and Art summer camp for preteen girls. Following a short mindful practice, sun salutations, group discussions, partner poses, and an active pose sequence, our focus turns to art. Today we will be creating 2 kinds of bracelets: zipper bracelets for fun, and mala bead bracelets to complement our meditation practice.
I try to tie the art project to the theme of the yoga class, and add as much bling as possible. To vary skill level and appeal, I chose to explain, and have materials for, Zipper Bracelets and Mala Bead Bracelets. The girls could choose what they wanted to make, or if time allowed, they could do both. Stacked bracelets are everywhere these days!
Mala Bead Bracelets
We began our Mala Bead project with a discussion of what Mala means and how to use Mala Bracelets for meditation:
Malas, strands of 108 beads plus a “guru” bead, are traditional Tibetan prayer beads meant to help focus during periods of meditation and reflection. There are many theories behind the significance of the number 108, which has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism. Malas are typically made with 18, 27, 54 or 108 beads.
How to Use Mala Beads for Meditation
- Sit comfortably with your spine straight and your eyes closed.
- Take a few deep breaths to center and align yourself with your intention.
- If you have one, use a mantra for this practice. I use mine to remind myself to be mindful and to practice loving kindness.
- Hold your mala in your right hand, draped between your middle and index fingers. Starting at the guru bead, use your thumb to count each smaller bead, pulling it toward you as you recite your mantra. Do this 108 times, traveling around the mala, until you reach the guru bead.
- If you want to continue the meditation, instead of passing over the guru bead, simply reverse direction and begin again.
- To count of your 21 bead mala bracelet, chant each mantra counting the beads, using your right thumb and index finger. When you have counted 20 mantras, flip the bracelet over and count again in the other direction, never passing over the guru bead, which signifies stepping over your teacher.
Mantra, literally defined, means “instrument of thought”. We discussed how mantras can help us focus, and could boost our self-esteem. OM is a mantra we chant at the beginning of every yoga class, and there are many tradition Sanskrit mantras. Each girl thought about a mantra that might be most effective for her, one that addresses what she feels. Perhaps an affirmation, as we have previously discussed. These are a few of the mantras the girls came up with for themselves:
- I am brave and strong
- I can totally do this
- Inhale courage, Exhale fear
- I am loved
- I am beautiful
- I can do anything
- I am kind
- I am amazing
- I will not quit
How To Make Mala Bead Bracelets
- Stretchy cording (Stretch magic jewelry cord, comes in clear, black and white; thicker cord is more durable)
- Beads that fit onto your cord – different shapes and sizes, plus a special one for your “Guru” bead
- Tassels (optional)
- Super Glue or Clear Nail Polish
- Start with a piece of cord that is a few inches longer than your final piece will be. You’ll want to leave room for tying knots at the end. (7-8” is average length))
- String your beads, making a pattern with your stones if you desire. Add a guru bead and/or a tassel.
- After stringing the beads, grab both ends of the cord and tie them together with a few knots. Ideally you’ll be able to fit these knots into one of the holes in the beads so they won’t show.
- Put a little dab of super glue or clear nail polish on the knots and slide them into your finishing bead, preferably while the glue is still wet.
You are ready to use your beautiful Mala Bead Bracelet to practice meditation. You can also follow this simple tutorial to make multiple mala bracelets to stack them for a beautiful fashionable look.
These are easy and creative, and fun to share with friends or stack on your own wrist in many bright colors.
- Zippers – with gold or silver chunky teeth. You can get bags of remnant zippers at fabric stores, or order zippers on amazon. As you can see from our bracelets I was not able to get the metal teeth. Some of the girls took the colored zippers off bracelets and slid them on their’s, thus multi-zipper colorful jewelry.
- Aleene’s Fabric Fusion Peel & Stick Tape
- Glue Gun
- Embellishments: ribbon trim (I used some lace seam binding, which was beautiful), many colorful flat gems of different sizes
- Open the zippers, cut them right above the zipper handle. Cut to fit your wrist.
- Use Aleene’s fabric fusion tape to apply ribbon embellishment
- Decorate with crystals. Even if they are adhesive, I used a glue gun to make sure they adhered.
- Place a tiny strip of Velcro at each end so that they overlap. And Voila! Beautiful.
Once are arms were adorned with our lovely creations, we settle in for relaxation. I often read a guided meditation, then massage the girls’ necks while they listen soft music. A favorite, “Magnificence”, by Daphne Tse.