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Mindfulness

Mindfulness, My Favorite Things, The MALA Shop

The Meaning of 108

Malas have 108 stones. Why?

Here is an excerpt from Yoga Journal on the meaning of 108:

“The number’s significance is open to interpretation. But 108 has long been considered a sacred number in Hinduism and yoga. Traditionally, malas, or garlands of prayer beads, come as a string of 108 beads (plus one for the “guru bead,” around which the other 108 beads turn like the planets around the sun). A mala is used for counting as you repeat a mantra—much like the Catholic rosary. Renowned mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. This number also connects the Sun, Moon, and Earth: The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. Such phenomena have given rise to many examples of ritual significance. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.”

When choosing a mala, I think it’s best to go with whichever one is calling to you. The stones all have different vibrations and meanings, but what matters most is the mala’s meaning to you. The true meaning of 108 is what it means to you.

Design Inspiration

Inspiration for my shop came from my Mom, she is an incredible jewelry designer and has always encouraged me creatively. Each piece I create is one of a kind and made with love. My design process sometimes lasts for days before I even start tying a piece together. Intention is infused into each piece. I knot between each stone using organic materials and semi precious stones.

Follow me on Instagram @lorenashleyyoga #theMALAshop to see all the latest!

Visit my Events page to see when my next trunk show is happening!

Go to The MALA Shop on Etsy.

Lifestyle, Meditation, Mindfulness, Yoga

How to Be Happy

I was recently asked to consider the question, “Who are you?”

I thought, “Damn, that’s a loaded question.” And a real good journal prompt, so I took the pen to paper…

My immediate reaction was to associate who I am with what I do, so I thought, “I’m a yoga teacher, web designer… blah blah, etc.” But that’s not who I am. That’s what I do.

So I sat with it for a few more moments and eventually words started appearing on the page before me…

I am simply a human on this journey called life trying to figure it all out and share my experience as I go. As a passionate yoga teacher, web designer, artist, and lover of humanity, I desire to help others find happiness through becoming fully present with life. To reconnect with the wisdom of our bodies, step into our power, and create a joyful life doing what we love.

When we are connected to our body we become present with life. Life happens through us – starting with our breath, our bodies are this incredible vehicle for the miracle of Life.

The question is, how curious, loving, and open can we be to this wisdom in our guts and our hearts? Is it possible that this can fully guide us into living the fullest expression of our lives possible?

The answer is a big, fat, juicy YES.

How? We have to train ourselves to be present with life. It doesn’t happen automatically – we are conditioned otherwise. We live mostly in our heads, in the past and in the future. We are constantly bombarded with messages telling us how to live, how to love, how to look, eat, speak, and be.

The truth is, happiness and joy are not in any of those things. They exist in the small moments happening right now.

I like to think of life as a collection of moments. Why is it that we remember certain things? Isn’t it interesting how specific moments stand out to us? We may even recall sounds, smells, tiny little details of these events. Why? Because we were fully present in those moments.

THE UNIVERSE WANTS US TO BE PRESENT WITH LIFE. It wants us to be happy and feel that joy deep in our core.

So, with our awareness bouncing all over the place 24/7, how are we supposed to be present?

The key is to be connected to your body. In yoga we speak of prana, which in Hindu philosophy represents our vital life force energy. This flows through us at all times and we connect to it using our breath – we refer to breathwork in yoga as pranayama – control of our vital life force energy.

We have to train our awareness by shifting the way we pay attention. This is a practice. You have to look at your awareness like a muscle. Just like you would strengthen any other muscle, you have to strengthen your awareness muscle. The stronger your ability to shift your awareness is, the easier it is to be present with life.

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE that we choose everyday. It is a practice.

MINDFULNESS PRACTICES

Everything starts in your mind. Start paying attention to the effect your thoughts are having on your physiology. For example, a stressful thought comes in… Your heart rate increases… you feel a tightness in your chest, maybe your palms get sweaty. Your stress level rises and your body starts to prepare for battle (fight or flight!). But wait, is this truly a life-threatening situation? Usually the answer is NO.

We live in a world where we are in a constant state of stress most of the time, always prepared for battle. Our sympathetic nervous systems are on OVERLOAD. We need some parasympathetic tone to bring balance. We have to wire in new reactivity patterns in order for anything to change.

MEDITATION & YOGA

Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation have been proven scientifically to actually change the structure of the brain, specifically the middle prefrontal cortex – which houses our ability to relax, calm down, and actually assess whether something should require us to gear up for battle.

When you sit and meditate or practice yoga you simply place your attention on breath or body sensation. When your awareness is on those things you have no room to place any awareness on busy thought or be caught up in the story of your life (which is all in your mind and is the cause of stress). In these moments are you are fully connect to prana, your life force energy… you bring yourself to the present moment.

This is a practice. And it’s not always pretty. Uncomfortable feelings and emotions arise, and we have to be courageous enough to allow ourselves to feel them.

There is nothing more powerful than connecting to the wisdom of your body. Your heart and belly have just as many neural pathways as your brain! YOUR BODY is the most readily available tool to practice mindful awareness and, in turn, experience the joy of life happening right in front of you.

So, breathe and move your body today. Engage all of your senses with whatever you are doing. Be loving and compassionate with yourself when you catch yourself stuck in your head or in the story of your life. It’s ok.

Make the choice to be present with life. With all the little moments. The highs, the lows. Love it all. Embrace exactly where you are at in your process because it’s exactly where you are supposed to be.

Here is a free 10 minute guided meditation I made just for you. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

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Lifestyle, Mindfulness, The MALA Shop

Mindfulness is a Practice

What is mindfulness? To me, it means doing something with full awareness and presence. Yoga is a mindfulness practice as focus is shifted inward to body sensation and breath awareness. Your mind cannot focus on busy thoughts while being forced to put full attention on the direct experience happening on your mat.

Truth is, anything you do can be a mindfulness practice. Feeling textures and smelling aromas of the food you are cooking. Feeling the water run on your hands as you wash dishes. Breathing in a fresh breeze as you run outside. Taking in and appreciating the beauty of nature wherever you go. All you have to do is focus on the direct experience you are having, wherever you are. Let yourself be present.

Making malas and mala bracelets is a way I practice mindfulness. I love how the beads feel in my hands as I get into a calming rhythm of tying knots.

Let your mala be a symbol of mindfulness for you, when you wear it let it remind you to focus on what is happening RIGHT NOW. Because this is your Life. Love it!

Need a mala? Wanna see what’s new?

Click here: The MALA Shop

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Five Ways Yoga Works Off the Mat
Lifestyle, Mindfulness, Yoga

Five Ways Yoga Works Off The Mat

The practice of yoga offers us tools for life that can help us tremendously when we leave the mat. It is our choice whether to apply them as we continue our day. Dripping with sweat, floating from the yoga high, we are already planning our next practice. We are yogis. Here is what keeps us coming back:

1. LET IT GO

As we flow through postures on the mat, the fleeting nature of Life becomes glaringly obvious. All we ever have is RIGHT NOW. Moment to moment, we are forced to let go of each pose as the next one comes. Each pose comes, and then it goes. We feel it, we stretch it, we breathe in ALL the goodness we can, we hold it in, and then, just like that… we breathe. it. ALL. out. We let go of things no longer serving us. We feel lighter. Less resistant. More accepting. We literally learn to go with the flow.

Let Go

2. LEAN INTO DISCOMFORT

Some postures are extremely uncomfortable. We feel a ton of sensation and we want to back out. We may even get angry. For a while we may back out of a pose or even avoid it altogether, but as our practice progresses, we learn to lean INTO these uncomfortable sensations because we notice an incredible release on the other side. It starts by showing itself physically in the form of flexibility or strength. Then we notice more. We become more adventurous. We let our hair down. Our minds open. We get comfortable going out of our comfort zone, on and off the mat, because we know it’s the only way to grow.

Comfort Zone

3. BREATHE DEEPLY

When you spend enough time listening to your breath, stretching it extra long, holding it in, squeezing it out, getting really empty, controlling it with patience, and moving your body with it, it becomes increasingly easy to do the same when you are late for work, get stuck in a traffic jam, feel an argument coming on with your spouse, stub your toe, and the list goes on. Your breath is always there for you. In every single moment that passes, whether you are aware of it or not, your breath is your anchor. Learn to see it as a friend, as nourishment, as comforting, as grounding. We roll out our mats to listen to & move with our breath. To honor it. We put it first. This simple practice of breath awareness leads us to a more automatic tapping into our breath in the moments we need it the most.

Inhale Exhale

4. MINDFULNESS

In the same way we visit a friend, we pay a visit to ourselves. We suit up & check in. We participate in a silent, moving meditation. We get quiet. We listen to our breath. We notice where sensation arises. We don’t have to do anything about it. Just notice it. We choose to step off the roller coaster of thought. We don’t judge what comes up, we just let it be. We notice, accept & embrace exactly where we are. Thoughts come in constantly but we keep choosing our breath. Each pose is just a place to come back to breath – our first priority. The postures become a vehicle to practice mindfulness. To FEEL alive. To JUST BE.

Mindfulness

5. STRONG BODY, STRONG MIND

There will always be a new challenge presenting itself on the mat, whether it be a posture or an injury. Breath and asana are the keys to freedom from self limitation that lives in your mind. There is always somewhere new to go on your mat. Modify, intensify, do what works for you, but remember, the postures you avoid are the ones you need the most. Get real with yourself. Is what you’re doing working? Get out of your comfort zone. FIND YOUR EDGE. In every single pose, find your edge. Sometimes this means backing off a little bit. Listen to your body. Lean into sensation. WELCOME the challenge with open arms. We bend so we don’t break. We go upside down to stay right side up. Our commitment the practice helps us handle life’s challenges with grace. We are true warriors.

Strong Body Strong Mind

ON AND OFF THE MAT

Every single one of these things is a PRACTICE. Everyday we have a choice. The hardest part is suiting up and showing up. Every time I roll out my mat I learn something new about myself. It’s not always pretty and I don’t always want to do it, but I am always in a better mood afterward and it has only gotten better.

With that, to all my amazing yogis and friends out there… PEACE OUT 2015! Thank you for making it so amazing. Happy New Year to ALL OF YOU, let’s make 2016 even more incredible… TOGETHER!

 

Love,

Loren

Yoga is a mindfulness practice. Read more about this in my post Mindfulness is a Practice.