Montana Mala Making

Guest post by Caitlin K., who teaches with me on our B-LUXE Cowgirl Yoga retreats and leads a Montana Mala Making workshop! 

Mala making has become my favorite meditation. Setting up a quiet space with my beads, an intention and a chant takes me immediately to my happy place. Mala means “garland” in Sanskrit. Mala beads, also known as “prayer beads”, traditionally consist of 108 beads or stones strung together and finished with a tassel or a charm, and are used for keeping count as the user chants, or mentally repeats a mantra during meditation. A mala can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. It can be made simply of wooden beads, tied together with a piece of string, or made of semi precious stones with colorful accents, tassels and beautiful thread.   

The first mala necklace I ever made was in a class. I gravitated towards stones that were dark green with flecks of white, brown and other greens. I picked up the beads and chose my “marker beads” - beads that are placed within the mala as a “benchmark” for where you are while meditating. I began to string it, following the instructor’s directions, and after I got the hang of it, everything in the room disappeared. I settled into my own little space, and stringing the mala became rhythmic, meditative and completely relaxing. I asked the instructor at the end of class what kind of stone the green ones I chose were; she said that they were Moss Agate, a stone of new beginnings. Little did I know at that moment, but it was the perfect stone for me. I began to experiment with creating my own malas, using different stones, different materials, and feeling how different my meditation practice was when holding a mala in my hand.

My first mala made of Moss Agate really did represent new beginnings. My mala’s first trip out of Pennsylvania was to Montana in 2013 on a Cowgirl Yoga retreat. Friends started to ask me to make malas for them, then yoga studios, and I feel so blessed to now be able to bring the art of mala making to Montana and share it with you in a class, the very space I began my own mala journey. 

This photo was taken after Caitlin's class last July, after we had tapped into our cowgirl creativity though mala making. I had envisioned a "Montana mala making" workshop as a fun activity that would also result in a unique souvenir. What I didn't envision is the way each of the 108 beads, threaded by our own hands, would further bond us. The above photo made me tear up when I first saw it. It's all of our hands together, wearing the malas made by those same hands. What this image says to me is how powerful our connection as women truly is. We have so much to learn from each other, and so much strength to give one another. When you add the experience of yoga and horses to that, I believe that it adds up to much more than just a fun vacation. It creates a bond and a source of strength that infuses our lives long after everyone has gone home.

Check out Caitlin's Etsy shop, and if you'd like to join us on B-LUXE this summer, we still have a few spots left on the July and August trips. Yeehaw & Namaste.

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