For yoga enthusiasts, the word mala is probably as familiar as their own name. For the rest of us, however, it might well be the first tangible taste of the mysterious, transcendent discipline that is yoga.
According to model, TV host, and active yogini Teresa Herrera, the mala is a string of 108 beads used for meditation and prayer. Similar in form to the Catholic rosary and used by Hindus, Buddhists, and Yogis alike, the mala acts as a counting check when one chants through a mantra—each bead is touched to mark a specific verse. The mala is central to the practice of yoga, as is the number 108—so much so, in fact, that an international day of celebration has been appointed on their behalf.
The Global Mala Project (GMP) is an internationally coordinated event that aims to gather the global community of yoga fans and devotees in order to raise funds for key environmental causes. The event, now in its third year in Manila, also takes place in major cities around the globe, including New York, Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
The GMP seeks to form a virtual “mala around the earth.” The idea is to get 108 cities involved, as Herrera explains: “Every city involved in the Global Mala Project represents 1 bead, and as we celebrate and practice all together, since it will be happening simultaneously in different parts of the world, we form a mala, uniting us all.”
Aligned with the UN International Day of Peace, the September 19-scheduled event seeks to unite the yoga collective in addressing some immediate concerns of our present-day environment. All donations gathered from the Manila chapter of the GMP will be earmarked for Trees for the Future (a non-profit organization which promotes tree planting-programs around the world) and Tubbataha Reef (the Philippines’ sole existing marine national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site).
The venture is open to all, and the message is simple: regardless of one’s experience with yoga, each person bears the responsibility of conserving and protecting the world we all share. “My philosophy is that if you can breathe, you can do yoga,” notes Herrera—and if you at least try yoga, in this case, you will be affecting so much more beyond your own body.
Planned as a full day event, the Global Mala Project will take place this coming Saturday at Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street from 11AM to 11PM. An extensive variety of activities will be headed by practicing experts and celebrity guests. Top male model Corey Willis will handle a session of Hatha Yoga at 3:00PM, while Herrera herself will lead 108 minutes of Yoga Trance Dance at 7:30PM. Participants can also look forward to 108 rounds of mantra, Surya Namaskar Tribal Drumming, and Fire Dancing.
If you're psyched by the idea of a yoga extravaganza or just want to do your part for nature, bring your mat, comfy clothes, and your monetary donations (the suggested donation for the whole day is P600) to the Global Mala Project this weekend. It might prove to be an uplifting experience!
For schedules and more information on the GMP and its beneficiaries, please visit www.globalmalaproject.multiply.com.