5 Ways That Yoga Taught Me How to Bead

These days, when I'm not beading, thinking about how to bead, or cleaning up and organizing my bead stash, you're most likely to find me on my yoga mat. Next month, I'll be finishing a 6-month 200-hour yoga teacher training program at a local yoga studio where my small class of five budding yoginis has been studying the ancient philosophical literature behind the practice of yoga. And wouldn't you know it, pretty much everything I've learned about yoga can also be applied to learning how to bead!

yoga taught me how to bead
I can do yoga (or bead) just about anywhere, even on the roof of a lean-to on the shores of Osgood Pond in Paul Smiths, N.Y.

I think my yoga practice has definitely made me a better beader. A clearer mind lets my creativity flow more easily, and a stronger body means that I can sit at my beading mat for hours at a time with relatively little physical discomfort. But it was when we dove deep into the classic yoga philosophy like Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita that I realized these teachings can help me become a better beader. How? Here are 5 ways that yoga has taught me how to bead:

1. You have to show up at your mat. Yoga mat or beading mat, it's all the same. If you're not there, you'll never get anything done! I roll out my yoga mat every day. Sometimes I just sit quietly and watch my breath, other times I do a full-on vigorous practice of various yoga poses and breathing techniques. Either way, it's all good.

Just like learning how to do yoga, you learn how to bead by showing up at your mat.

The same applies to your beading. Just show up at your beading mat every day and see what happens. You might just want to sit and do some easy bead stringing, or you might feel motivated to start working on a bead embroidery project or other works-in-progress. But moving towards your beading mat (or yoga mat) with the intention of creating something is a powerful way to get your hands moving.

2. Every day is different, and that's okay. Same thing with yoga — just because I can get into a pose on Tuesday doesn't mean that I'll be able to do it again on Wednesday! And that's okay! There are some days when no matter what you do, the beads just won't cooperate. Don't let it get you down, though. Instead, think about what's going on today. Are you feeling stressed out? Do you have pain anywhere in your body? Then it might be okay to just go easy on yourself today.

When I teach a yoga class, I'm always reminding the participants that they shouldn't be pushing themselves to the point of pain, because that means you're risking injury. The same holds true with beading: if your hands hurt, stop beading for a little while. If your eyes, neck, or back hurt, put the beads down and give yourself a break. It also means that if you're just not feeling inspired when you sit down with your beads on any particular day, that's okay, too. Do something else for a little while and wait until you can really hear those beads calling to you from across the room.

3. Beading (and yoga) are 1% theory and 99% practice. You can read all the books and magazines you want, but unless you actually get to your mat (bead mat or yoga mat!) you'll never be able to do any of the things you read about. I'm a firm believer that the best way to learn how to bead is by actually beading. Use your beading books and magazines to help you master off-loom bead-weaving techniques and find inspiration for new stringing techniques, but you'll never learn how to bead (or how to do yoga) unless you actually DO it.

Heavenly Lotus bead stringing project by Jamie Hogsett, from Create Jewelry: Stones

I'm not suggesting that you give up your favorite beading books and beading magazines. Instead, I would encourage you to work up as many beading projects as you can from your favorite beading publications! You'll gain knowledge, skill, and most of all, add some really gorgeous new pieces of handmade beaded jewelry to your collection.

4. Start from where you are. I see this one a lot in my yoga practice. I see people who say, "Oh, I'll start doing yoga regularly when I can afford a really good yoga mat," or, "I'll start doing yoga when I can afford the good yoga clothes." But really, all you need to get started with yoga is an inexpensive mat and some comfortable clothes. With all the resources available on the internet (like YouTube and Hulu yoga videos), you can even start doing yoga right in your living room when you have just fifteen minutes to spare.

When it comes to beading, though, this is a tough one for me. I'm one of those beaders who thinks, "Oh, I'll get started on that next project when I can order those gumdrops/crystals/seed beads/clasps/ear wires/etc." But if I take a few minutes to really look through my bead stash, I realize that I have more than enough to get started on a new beading project right now! Got some needles? Good beading thread and a thread cutter? A bead mat or a tray? More beads than I'll ever be able to use in this lifetime? Check, check, check, and check. It goes right back to getting to your mat every day — if you sit with your beads, the beaded jewelry design ideas will come!

5. Try not to judge yourself based on what others are doing. When I go to a yoga class, I like to park my mat right up in the front of the room. It's not because I'm a "teacher's pet" or because I want to show off my yoga prowess — I position myself in the part of the room where I am least likely to look and see what everyone else in the room is doing. I love yoga, but I'm not particularly bendy or flexible, so when I see someone who can fold all the way forward and touch their toes without bending their knees, I start beating myself up. And that's the exact opposite of what you should do in yoga.

The same holds true in my beading. It's easy to look around at the elegant, gorgeous bead-weaving that's coming off the needles of my favorite designers and start to beat myself up. "Why can't I come up with ideas like that? What's wrong with me? I must not be very good at beading. Maybe I should give up." I'm not suggesting that you don't look at anyone's beadwork, ever again. But just be kind to yourself. We're all different. We have different abilities, different ideas, and different talents. Let yourself admire the exquisite skill and technique that went into a piece of beautiful handmade beaded jewelry. And use it to inspire yourself back to your beading mat!

Sometimes, finding the right inspiration to get you to your bead mat can be as simple as flipping through the pages of a favorite beading magazine. I was totally inspired by all the gorgeous projects in the Spring 2014 issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine! The colors and textures in these beading projects made me think that if I closed my eyes, I could actually smell spring in the air — even if we are expecting another three inches of snow this weekend. Subscribe to Jewelry Stringing magazine and get four-season inspiration for your beading and jewelry-making projects.

Do you have any lessons learned about how to bead from something else you love to do? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your beady philosophy with us for inspiration!

Bead Happy,


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