How to use your Mala in a Yoga Practice

How-To-use-Mala-Japa-Meditation-Yoga

  1. Grounding:
    Inhale, exhale… Grab your mat, blankets, bolster and blocks. Find a comfortable seated position with a straight spine rooting yourself into the mat. Gently close your eyes or soften your gaze allowing yourself to dive inwards.
  2. Choose Your Mantra:
    Take a moment to choose your mantra to guide you through your meditative practice. What brought you to your mat today? What intention did you set this morning when you awoke? What emotion does your mala evoke within you? Your intention is personal to you- it can be a thought, a word, a sentence or song. Once you have chosen your mantra chant it aloud or silently.
  3. Japa Meditation:
    Hold your Mala Beads in your right hand allowing it to drape between the thumb and middle finger. Starting at the Guru Bead or the sacred stone- gently roll each bead while repeating your mantra. Repeat this 108 times, or until you are back at the sacred stone.
  4. Yoga Practice:
    Place your Mala beads at the top of your yoga mat. Allow your mantra and intention to flow through you guiding you through your asanas. If you feel yourself getting lost in the physical practice, use the intention you set with your Mala Beads to bring yourself back to the present.
  5. Savasana:
    Finish your yoga practice on your mat with a juicy savasana. You may choose to end with another round of Japa Meditation bringing your practice full circle.

7 Steps to Adding Intention to your Yoga Practice

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.13.16 PMWe all come to our mats for different reasons. Some of us for just a moment to breathe, some to sweat, some to sit, and sometimes, well sometimes we’re not quite sure how we got here.  While we may find ourselves chanting and flowing mat-to-mat, so close its not clear whether thats your sweat or your neighbors puddling beside you, but the truth is that even in a studio, yoga is still intensely personal. By cultivating intention in our practices we can start to bring the real yoga back into focus.

 1. Set one. You’ve probably heard the often used “set your intention” promptly followed by a few Sun Salutations. On days of, lets say, less than enthusiasm for the physical practice, my own lovely little internal voice has replied with a snarky “to get through this damn class”. It may not sound like a very yogic intention, and it’s certainly not the stuff of Namaste’s, rainbows, and unicorns, but it is authentic. Even if you’re first thought isn’t of gratitude or forgiveness, don’t discount what your body and mind are telling you. Intention doesn’t have to be grandiose and you certainly don’t have to think of your sick grandmother every time you jump back to chaturanga. Try to remember why you stepped on your mat in the first place today. If your find yourself praying just to make it through class, its likely your really trying to tell yourself to listen to your body. That in these moments your intention is to simply be mindful and take only what you need regardless of whats happening around you.

2. Turn off your phone. It feels crazy to even have to say this, but turn off your damn phone. It’s amazing how that little whistle, a soft vibration, even the imagination of one, can completely pull you out of the moment. Your emails will still be there, Instagram won’t flag your account for inactivity, and you brain will thank you for it.

 3. Create a safe space. It may mean exploring every teacher in town until you find the one. It may also mean putting in a little extra effort at home to set up a distraction free zone. Think about those practices you’ve had that have been truly wonderful or transformative. Where have you felt safe and supported? Maybe its the lighting, music or no music, props, or aromatherapy? How can you inject that feeling into your own practice space?

 4. Listen to your body. We simply can’t be mindful if we’re fighting ourselves the whole time. We’ve all been there, quit pushing on that door that clearly says PULL. Set aside what you thought your practice was going to be, what you think it looks like, and start stepping into the reality of what it is. That doesn’t have to mean settle, or don’t work hard. It just means that everyday is different, why would we expect our practices to always be the same?

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 12.15.00 PM5. Remember pranayama. It’s easy to roll out your mat and jump right into a flow. Try slowing down as you start practice and notice your breath. Notice it in down dog, notice it in Tadasansa, notice it in handstand. Counting the breaths can often be very helpful to gently crowd out unrelenting thoughts. Kapalabhati can be powerful heat building breath work to stoke the belly fires and focus the mind early. Let your breath do the focusing for you.

 6. Savor savasana. Five  minutes of Savasana is a gift. Ten minutes is winning the lottery. Allow yourself to revel in this time sans outside stimulation and see where it takes you. If you find yourself making grocery lists or rehearsing imaginary conversations, try not to force it. Just come back to where you started. Soften your muscles, soften your breath and give yourself the gift of ease.

 7. Remember that its a practice. Every time we step onto our mats is a new experience, and a new opportunity. Resist the urge to berate yourself if you find your mind wandering or miss a day of asana. Cultivating intention is just as much of a practice as Surya Namaskar B.

CarlingHarpsheadshotCarling Harps is a yoga doer & teacher, move maker, kick aficionado, sloth & kitten enthusiast who loves helping students build a strong foundation to explore their practice through alignment, self inquiry, and being rooted in the present moment. 

Website: www.patrickandcarling.com

Instagram: @carlingnicole

Facebook: Patrick and Carling 

Finding your yoga pose personality with the Prairie Yoga Girls.

PrairieYogiYMCAThe Prairie Yoga Girls are taking the West by storm with their cheeky, hip, yoga inspired magazine Prairie Yoga Magazine.  These free spirited, imaginative gals know a thing or two about yoga, and they’re here to show us how to get creative through our yoga pose personalities! Check out what they had to share with us below.

To the naked eye, a yoga mat looks like an ordinary rubber workout accessory. But yogi girls know that our yoga mat is a sacred piece with endless potential. No matter where you roll it out, it can be your sanctuary from the daily grind, your journal with whom you share your secrets and fears, and the space you can achieve what you never thought possible.

Being creative gypsy spirits, we cannot help but appreciate how our yoga mats can act as a canvas, a place where personal expression is free, vulnerable, and authentic. The asanas you bring you to your mat, whether through personal practice or from the style of yoga class you choose to attend, are a reflection of who you are and where you are at in this very moment. So, what’s your yoga personality? We’d love to share ours with you!

Our yoga pose personalities are yin and yang, just like we are in business and in life!

Monique (Yin – Passive, Female energy, Moon)

I like to take my time to absorb. Experiences, feelings, people. My favourite kind of mornings are slow ones where I take my time to sip tea, stretch out on my mat and prepare for my day with meditation. My yoga practice definitely reflects my personality where I prefer deep, slow yin expressions. Restorative yoga is where I find I can recharge and connect to my creative, authentic self.

MountainMoniqueFavourite Asanas:
1. Water Fall orLegs Up the Wall Pose
2. Pigeon Pose

3. Savasana

Rachelle (Yang – Active, Male Energy, Sun)

I have a fiery, go-getter personality with a very active mind, full of ideas and opportunities that I actively spend my time chasing. Connecting each breath to movement on my mat acts as a moving meditation that focuses my monkey mind. I like to bring challenging arm balances and flowing mandala sequences to my classes and into my personal practice. By achieving silence through balance and strength on the mat, I am able to take that quiet, calm state off the mat and into my busy life.

Favourite Asanas:
1. Crow/Side Crow
2. Half Moon

3. Full Wheel

There you have it, in yoga (and in life) we are the yang to one another’s yin. Share in the comments below what your yoga pose personality is, we all have one!

Rachelle Taylor and Monique Pantel are the radiating beauties who run Prairie Yogi, an online community that believes in storytelling, creating experiences, and building community in the expansive prairie region and beyond.

 
shantiConnect with their community, including unique events and inspiring art and yoga wear:
Instagram: @PrairieYogi