How did you choose your mala? Were you drawn to a particular energy or gemstone? 

I love adventure. It's been a big theme in my life and many of the yoga classes I teach are themed around it. Even though I spent forever looking at all the beautiful malas, I knew the I Am Adventurous mala was the right choice for me. 

 

My outdoor endeavours have always been sort of a "moving meditation" and the mala has definitely helped me to rekindle that concept.  

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

I began practicing yoga while competing in collegiate athletics as I was trying to gain an edge over my competition. Not only did I gain physically, but mentally too.

I had also taking a class on the psychology of sport learned about the benefits of meditation and visualization but needed the tools to implement those concepts into my training.

 

"What really keeps me returning to the mat is what it does for me mentally and spiritually.  My knee would have healed on it's own, but my head and my heart may not have."

Developing a yoga practice ignited a whole new level of my athleticism.  I was able to really feel what was going on with my body to add finesse to the execution of technical skills.  I learned how to use pranayama to control my breath which helped me to channel my nerves/stress in competition (and in life) for positive outcomes. I began to see stress as a something that could really benefit me. (LIFE-CHANGER!)  

Since then, my yoga practice has morphed and I'm no longer trying to win any championships. I believe that the benefits of my yoga and meditation practice far exceed my capacity to see and comprehend them. I have recently been on the long road of recovery after tearing some knee ligaments skiing. I struggled for awhile finding joy in pretty "normal" tasks like running and decided to really crank up the yoga. 

Through a strong practice, I've found myself finding freedom once again in those activities that were giving me a little grief. All that being said, while I began practicing for many physical reasons, what really keeps me returning to the mat is what it does for me mentally and spiritually.  My knee would have healed on it's own, but my head and my heart may not have.  

What is your favorite way to take a moment for yourself each day? 

I start each day out with some meditation before I get out of bed. I'm not too different than many folks who like to check in with social media and news BUT I try to do it after I've taken a moment to check in with myself.  

Like in a yoga class when called to set an intention for your practice I like to set an intention for my day and come up with a mantra to go a long with that.  

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

My favorite mantra is "Awesome is a practice." I've used this mantra well over a year now but right around the same time I got my I Am Adventurous mala I attended a workshop with Valerie D'ambrosio and got stuck on the words "Life is a perfect adventure."  I loved it.  

We all face hard times and obstacles but I think viewing life as an adventure brings fresh spirit to challenges. 

"Getting a mala is a wonderful practice for meditation and it serves as a visual reminder when you're wearing it and causes all sorts of inquiry from others, which I promise will help you along with your intention".

Melissa Harms is a yoga teacher and the Colorado Regional Director for the nonprofit organization SheJumps, which strives to increase female participation in outdoor activities by building upon a supportive community that inspires members to reach their highest potential.

You can find Melissa's blog at www.thestokedlife.com.

Watch Melissa's TedxFoCo talk here

June 17, 2014 by Ashley Wray

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