I have been avidly practicing yoga for approximately 6 years. However, my dad first introduced me to a particular style of yoga known as Bikram yoga when I was about eight years old or so. Bikram is a style of yoga that consists of 24 postures and two breathing exercises, and must be practiced in a room heated to between 110 and 115 degrees F. He would use a little space heater to heat up the room and we used towels as yoga mats. He would giggle at my inability to balance and concentrate as he taught me the postures he learned from Bikram’s book. I didn’t continue practicing, mainly because I was so young and didn’t have the mental capacity yet to understand the benefits of yoga. I returned to yoga when I was 16 in an effort to find some mental clarity, and a form of exercise that was different from working out in a gym. So, I decided to take a hot yoga class. I did not realize however that the hot yoga class I decided to take was actually Bikram yoga.
Needless to say, from that point on I’ve been an avid yogi. I’ve expanded my yoga pallet beyond Bikram by incorporating various forms of yoga including vinyasa, yin yoga, Bhakti yoga, meditation, and even stand up paddle board yoga or SUP flow yoga. When I was 19 I completed my 200hr training, and became a certified yoga instructor. I taught for a little while, but more recently I have been focusing on learning more about the practice, history and reasons behind doing yoga. When I return to teaching, I want to give people everything that I can offer. I want to be knowledgable about yoga, and the body, and nutrition. I don’t just want to say things to clients that sound good. I want to fully understand the benefits behind various postures, and incorporate organic mindfulness. It’s very easy for new yoga teachers to copy other teachers. I’m not saying it is wrong for new yoga teachers to draw inspiration from more developed teachers, but I personally feel that you should always give only what you have to offer. That is the whole key to being yourself and expressing yourself. If I am expressing the thoughts that have formulated in the minds of other people, and if I copy flows that others have taught, I’m not only doing an injustice to my clients because I’m not offering them anything full heartedly, but by doing that I’m also being unfair to myself.
This brings me to my struggle with mala beads. For those of you who are unfamiliar with mala beads, they’re long chained necklaces made of anything from ropes to stones, and often have tassels attached to them. What a mala is composed of coincides with the intention the yogi will set with the beads. The idea is that the beads will continually remind a yogi of a set intention, and when practicing with these particular beads, the mala will help the yogi eventually reach their goal. I did not get a mala until today, and I’ve been practicing for almost 6 years now. I have wanted to set so many intentions throughout my practice, and I have, but I couldn’t make up my mind about what intention was worthy enough of a mala.
Today I went to Rachel Brathen’s yoga studio in Aruba. She has been my biggest inspiration since I returned to yoga, and I owe a lot of the mindfulness I’ve gained through my practice to her. She was selling mala beads at her studio today so I found it fitting to finally get one. I chose to purchase one made of amazonite, which is a gem stone that comes from the amazon river and is believed to help balance emotions. As I hold these beads in my hand I feel their energy circulating through my arm. To some, the idea of mala beads may be incomprehensible. I used to feel indifferent about them to a certain degree as well. Why should I need the mala beads to set an intention? Why can’t I set an intention with something else? Now however, I understand the love for these beads to a certain degree. I don’t necessarily think it is the beads themselves that make one feel a bevy of emotions, but I think its the symbolism behind the beads, and the belief that they can impact your life. I chose to get beads from my favorite yoga teacher. That is why they mean something to me, and that is why I believe in their abilities.
Mala’s can be made from a variety of stones said to have a variety of healing abilities. Whether you believe in it or not, if you’re an avid yogi I suggest you purchase a mala that you hold an emotional attachment to. That way, whether you believe in its healing abilities or not, it will still instigate emotion during your practice.