Even on the beautiful Gulf Coast, inner peace can sometimes be hard to come by. So Jessica DiLorenzo Oatman of Trikona Designs is helping Sarasotans center themselves through yoga, art, and her handmade Malas--necklaces and bracelets that serve as talismans for empowerment and well-being.
DiLorenzo Oatman creates her Mala necklaces and bracelets out of eclectic materials. All of the elements are meant to inspire the wearer in different ways. Gems such as rose quartz encourage self-love and acceptance, hematite is grounding, and labradorite is for intuition and magic. Everything DiLorenzo Oatman creates is meant to bring out the power that she believes already lives inside each one of us.
DiLorenzo Oatman is a busy woman. In addition to running Trikona Designs, she works with Any Given Child, an initiative started by the Kennedy Center that works to allow children, regardless of their socioeconomic background, to participate in the arts programs in their communities. DiLorenzo Oatman is an art integration specialist.
“I am right in there classrooms,” DiLorenzo Oatman said. “I coach them on how to use different art methods to teach math, science, and language arts.”
DiLorenzo Oatman works with four Title I schools and about 16 teachers a year.
“We use drama, dance, and obviously yoga,” DiLorenzo Oatman said. “Last week, we made Mandalas to learn math and symmetry.”
On top of that, she teaches yoga classes at Wild Ginger Apothecary Studio Lounge in Gulf Gate. She strives to make her classes accessible for everyone.
She describes Mala beads as an embodiment of yoga practice.
“Part of yoga is the Asana practice, the physical practice,” DiLorenzo Oatman said. “But beyond that there is the meditation practice, the mantra practice, and the breath practice.”
She began making Mala beads so she could continue her meditation after her first Rose Quartz mala broke while she was working on a farm.
“I started to string my own Mala beads,” DiLorenzo Oatman said. “It was fun, because I could make them any shape or color I wanted to using any stones or seeds I liked.”
DiLorenzo Oatman named her designs Trikona, after her favorite yoga pose. It means "triangle" in sanskrit.
“It symbolizes the balance of feminine and masculine energy and moon and sun energy,” she says. “I choose that name because it really spoke to me.”
She purchases the stones at local gem shows, and she imports the seed beads--Rudraksha or Tears of Shiva--from India.
Her friends complimented her work, so she began making them as gifts, and then started selling her Mala bead jewelry on Etsy.
Last year, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and wanted to spend more time on the meditation side of yoga than the physical aspect.
“It was really trying,” DiLorenzo Oatman says of her diagnosis. “It took me out of my Asana practice. It really forced me to focus on the other aspects of yoga: meditation, mantra, and breath work.”
She is now healthy and back into physical yoga, but, while she was ill, she was able to grow in her meditative yoga and now helps others with their own mantras and inner practices.
“Throughout this entire year, making these beads has really been a sacred practice for me. It has allowed me to to tap into other aspects of yoga," she explains. “Now, I can help people discover mantras for themselves.”
The Mala beads can serve as a fashion piece, but they can also be used to do deep relaxation yoga.
“Mala beads are actually used to practice a Japa mantra,” DiLorenzo Oatman said. “You come up with a mantra or affirmation that you repeat to yourself or out loud 108 times.” The beads are a constant reminder of the positive mantra.
If you're interested in making your own Mala, DiLorenzo Oatman leads Mala-making workshops at Wild Ginger, and there's one coming up on January 30. All necessary materials are provided and each person leaves with their own unique Mala bead creation, which also serves as a talisman. Information on these classes can be found on Wild Ginger’s Facebook page and website.
And if you prefer to purchase your Malas, DiLorenzo Oatman’s own creations are available at the workshops and are also for sale on her website. Some are also for sale at LeLu coffee on Siesta Key. Prices vary from $35 to $100; DiLorenzo Oatman can also be commissioned to make custom Mala bead designs.
“I've been able to connect with a lot of people through making my jewelry,” DiLorenzo Oatman says. “Ultimately, yoga is a heart offering for me.”