How did you choose your mala? Were you drawn to a particular energy or gemstone?
I chose the Prana Mala because it is known for protecting, activating and clearing the heart chakra. As a yoga and meditation instructor, I diligently check in with my own feelings and intentions before I lead a group or interact with students. I pause to think about how I’d like to feel while helping others (I suppose this could be considered a balanced way to be of service in the world while attending to my own needs). I believe it’s important for anyone in a leadership role or in any kind of engagement with others to create healthy boundaries as well as a mindset that is clear and open to receiving and learning.
Also I LOVE the colour green because it reminds me of the grounding forests on the West Coast of BC, where I feel very rooted, refreshed and at home.
When did you start your meditation and yoga practice? What are some of the benefits you have received from your practice?
I began both practices as naïve as ever, very young and unsuspecting! I started yoga as a 19 year old in Whistler, partially because a few women whose children I nannied were doing it and partially because I had nothing better to do, but either way I was CURIOUS. That’s all we seem to need to grow and learn and think outside the box: curiosity rather than judgement or fear.
"That’s all we seem to need to grow, learn and think outside the box: curiosity rather than judgement or fear."
I was introduced to meditation via two different yoga retreats I took within the same year. Being out of one’s normal surroundings already was an effective way to add in another new element and for me learning meditation whilst alone on retreat was perfect…slightly uncomfortable at first, because it was walking meditation as well as a surprise mandatory silence, but perfect.
I can’t begin to express some of the benefits but I’ll give you some key words: confidence, silliness, deep sleeps, clarity with words and thoughts, ability to trust my instincts, appreciation for all living things, improved listening skills, acknowledgement that I will never be perfect and that cycles and emotions will flow up and down as they do.
What is your favorite yoga pose and why?
I am mildly obsessed with side waist stretches and thigh stretches because I have slight scoliosis and these areas of my body feel most imbalanced/pain from it.
I’m not sure what to say because my mind wanders more towards the poses that aggravate me or that I struggle with!
I also love Downward Dog, any type of forward fold and restorative heart openers. Oh and Savasana – duh.
What mantra or intention are you working with currently?
I love to use 2 intentions that continuously speak to my heart and phase in life from a bird’s eye view– “I let go of control” and “Gratitude for my teachers”. No matter how lost I feel or obsessed I become with my problems or unwilling to set an intention for the day, I can come back to these ongoing affirmations. They remind me of what really matters in life- and it’s rarely the constant reel of insecurities and grasping and egocentric thoughts that play out in darker moments.
Recently, in discussion with one of my teachers, she offered up the mantra “Thank you for sharing what is true for you” - this relates to challenging conversations. I’m excited to say these words and mean them…soon. We can’t please everyone in life – I realize this more and more but everyone’s opinion provides an opportunity to learn.
Any tips for someone who is just starting to use mala beads in their meditation practice?
Just use them!!
Also, ask a teacher or someone who prays/meditates to teach you. Ideally, you want to repeat a word or a mantra or a prayer internally or out loud each time your fingers move along the beads.
The internet reveals dozens of do’s/don’ts when using mala beads or prayer beads. I believe that if your intention is pure and you manage to focus on the mantra you’re using then bravo! You can use your mantra with your mala beads at home in a quiet place, or on the bus, or at work on a break, or in yoga class.
Keep it simple and keep trying. Being human assumes that we will make mistakes but we can always come back. If you feel slightly uncomfortable and your heart is racing – you’re probably headed in the right direction.
Carolyn Anne Budgell (BA, ERYT 200) teaches Power Vinyasa yoga in Vancouver at YYoga and Semperviva since 2008. She is now leading Teacher Trainings and mediation intensives around the world.
Yoga initially provided her with agility for snowboarding, skateboarding and trail running. The magic of yoga continues to evolve for her – from the physical to the internal. From the spectacle to the observer. Experiment, heal and remember that everything is okay.