You & Your Mala - Joanna McNeilsHow did you choose your mala? Were you drawn to a particular energy or gemstone?

I am currently wearing the Journey Mala as I in the midst of a career change, to assist me while I go down my life path, during my journey. I was drawn to the Turquoise as it is believed to protect a wearer on a journey.

When did you start your yoga/meditation practice? What are some of the benefits you have received from your practice?

My Yoga journey started at The Himalayan Institute in Buffalo, NY in 1995 where I practiced Hatha Yoga, as well as studied Meditation and Ayurveda, up until about 2005. While attending the University at Buffalo for a Masters Degree in Social Work, I taught Hatha Yoga to undergraduate students at the University's Health Center from 2005-2006. I continued to practice Hatha and Vinyāsa yoga until 2013 when I started practicing Iyengar Yoga. In the fall of 2013 I was trained by the famous Judith Lasater as a Restorative Yoga Instructor. 

I continue to attend Level 4 Iyengar Yoga classes and further yoga trainings through Open Sky Yoga. I am also a Reiki Practitioner, Certified Auricular Acupuncturist, a Licensed Psychotherapist & Certified Holistic Life Coach.

Yoga has helped me holistically in every aspect of my life. It's the basis for how I live, how I love and who I am. It has beautiful way of calming & centering me. It also helps ease back pain and relaxes me during anxious moments.

Do you have a favorite mantra or intention to meditate with?

The first Sanskit mantra I learned in my first yoga class was SoHum सो ऽहम् (aka: Soham, Sohaum). It is a yogic manta that is not only the reflection of sounds of breathe, but it also means, "I am that". "So" (I am) reflects the sound of inhalation and is silently said while inhaling, and "Hum" (that) for exhalation.

This mantra helps achieve deep diaphragmatic breathe, creates a rhythm to your breathe and helps one gain concentration ad it helps connect you to your essential self.

My personal mantra is "Be Still"...reminding my mind to not wander and to help soothe & calm myself. 

Any tips for those are are just starting to use a mala in meditation?

Using a mala can be compared to using a rosary when praying. Saying a mantra when you meditate helps center you and keep your mind from wandering. A mala helps you keep track of how many times you say your mantra.


Join Joanna for the #HAPPYNEWYOGA2 February Instagram Challenge. You can find Joanna on Twitter and Instagram.

January 28, 2014 by Ashley Wray



Jenny said:

So sweet!! Love this article. Joanna is so sweet. Thanks for sharing. :)

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