You’ve got your brightly painted yoga mat, snazzy leggings, tank top with a witty saying, and cucumber lavender water. Your diffuser is pumping out the perfect blend and the Yoga Girl Playlist of the Month playing at just the right volume in the background. This is your sweet spot, and you are ready to quiet your mind, focus on yourself, and stretch! Today though, you’ve also brought your mala.
This is might be the newest tool in your yoga/wellness/meditation arsenal, and it can arguably be the hardest one to incorporate in your practice. True, it is the perfect physical reminder of your daily intentions, and it looks aaaamazing on… but it doesn’t exactly work for your sun salutations.
Mala beads are designed for use in Japa Meditation, the idea being the wearer runs their fingers along all 108 beads while repeating their mantra. This allows them to focus a wandering mind on a physical action, keeping them grounded and centered.
Obviously, we don’t have our hands free in a lot of poses, and we don’t always hold poses long enough to complete a full japa meditation, but here are 5 poses that you can incorporate your mala.
Sit cross legged on your mat, perhaps on a pillow or blanket for comfort. Bring your hands to heart center with your mala. Repeat your mantra along each bead, being careful not to use your index finger (a big no no in the mala world because it represents your ego)
Garland Pose (Yoga Squat)
Squat with your feet as close together as you can, heels on the floor if possible (if not, feel free to support them). Open your thighs a little wider than your torso and lean forward, snuggling in between your thighs. Bring your palms together with your mala, pressing your elbows against your inner knees, using your mala for your japa meditation. Your hips will thank you!
This one is my favorite, if I could work in pigeon pose I would! I like to rest my forehead all the way down on the ground, with my mala in hands stretching my arms out in front of me to complete my meditation. It is the sweetest stretch, and I always feel so amazing afterwards!
A great pose for balance and concentration, tree pose is also perfect for Japa meditation. I like to keep my mala wrapped around my wrist until I am feeling really rooted in my tree. Then, once I am settled, I complete my japa meditation. Practicing holding my Tree for as long as it takes to complete my 108 mantras has done amazing things for my ankles, that I rolled way too many times when I was kid.
Finish your yoga practice on your mat with a juicy savasana. I almost always choose to end with another round of Japa Meditation bringing my practice full circle.
Figuring out a way to use my mala during yoga took a minute or two, but it has brought me to a whole new level of Zen. My practice has become so much more fulfilling, and that hour I dedicate to myself (most) every day has been integral to my mental and spiritual health!
What about you? Any other poses you recommend for Japa meditation?