Archive for the ‘eco-friendly’ Category

What’s your story?

We all have a story, aka biography.  In fact we write it every moment by the actions we take.

Our current actions define our current story as well as how future stories will be shaped.  Some parts of our stories are creative and inspiring.  Others are unpleasant and maybe a bit painful in parts.

Don’t like your current story?  Change your story starting now by scribing with a different tool.  Why use the same pen day after day?  It’s usually out of habit that we do.  Habit is also the main culprit behind a lot of our daily actions.

Take charge.  Change your pen color.  Use a paint brush.  Or maybe write it on eco-friendly elephant dung paper.  Inspire your story and be the inspiration for others to take charge of their stories too.

Lip Balm Panic

Life is all about change, right?  And yoga teaches us how to be agile (and oh so graceful) as we surf the flow of change -whether we are in an asana class, literally surfing the Pacific (go Michelle!) or just trying to get through life.  In other words, yoga shows us how to be with change and ride it verses resist it and run.

I believe this concept so much that I talked about riding change and its challenges on Monday morning during the yoga class I taught to the City of Alexandria Fire Department recruits.  Then it hit me on my drive home from class that morning…just mere hours the night before I totally was NOT practicing what I had just preached.

Life is all about change.  And it’s good…until you find out your favorite lip tinted balm has been discontinued!  On Sunday night while tackling my weekly grocery list at MOM’s, I decided to grab a couple sticks of Burt’s Bees Toffee Lip Shimmer (just in case).  They had a fresh, well-stocked display of all the colors -except my favorite shade.  There wasn’t even a slot for the toffee.

When I visited my online supplier ( later that night, I discovered they were also “out of stock”.  Google searches led me to various online beauty shops around the country but they were all out of stock of the little $5 stick I desired.  Looking back to Sunday night, I think I went into panic mode.  This would never have happened to me a few years ago.  I use to always have a huge stash of my favorite lip staples – just in case.  Yet in the last couple of years, I’ve been doing my best to practice the yogic principle Aparigraha.  Aparigraha is translated as non-attachment (letting go) or not hoarding.  Through this practice we learn that by letting go we begin to trust the flow of life.  Trust that the universe will take care of us, right?

Well, the universe took care of me!  After an exhaustive (panicky) search online, I found a feed & grain store in Alaska that still had the Burt’s Bees Toffee Lip Shimmer in stock.  I ordered 10 sticks, disregarding the crazy fact that the shipping cost is the same price as the product (I cross my fingers my husband isn’t reading this post).

I admit I won’t be totally relieved until my stash is replenished when those 10 sticks arrive.  And when they do, I will cherish each application knowing that we only have few precious moments left (maybe about a year in truth).  This will enable me to handle the change, gradually, at my own speed.   Yes I know not all change can or should be handled in this manner.  Though I’ve decided when it comes to lip stick/balm (my only beauty product), change is good with a little notice 🙂

Malas for Haiti

The beauty of Fall is finally arriving here in Washington, DC.  Though I prefer sunny days and outdoor yoga over cold temps and snow, the reality is the chill and thrill of the holidays will be here before we know it.  Heck, the December date & hosts for my Arlington, VA neighborhood holiday progressive dinner party (that’s a mouthful!) has been set for weeks already.  So really, the “season of giving” will be here shortly.

With that in mind, I’ve decided I’m scaling back on holiday gifts and cards this year.  And what I plan to give will more than likely be related to one or a combo of the following:  gifts from local sources,  gifts promoting health & wellness or donation-based gifts.

It just so happens one of the local sources, To Haiti With Love DC, I’m purchasing gifts from is also a huge fundraising effort to help raise money for Haitian-based organizations so they can implement sustainable solutions on the ground in Haiti.  Things like community infrastructure projects to micro-credit and education programs are top priority.  These projects are designed to enable and empower the Haitian people to recover, rebuild, and create better lives for themselves and their communities.

As part of To Haiti With Love DC’s fundraising efforts, donation-based yoga classes are being offered, film-screenings are happening and beautiful malas are being sold.  Malas for Haiti is a line of gorgeous yoga-inspired jewelry featuring hand-knotted mala beads and mala-inspired bracelets.  Malas are prayer beads used traditionally in yogic meditation practices to count 108 sacred repetitions of a mantra (a spiritual sound, word, or phrase).  Each and every mala is lovingly strung and knotted (by hand!) by Kristin Adair, a dedicated yogini/yoga teacher in the Washington, DC area.

Each Mala for Haiti is made with creamy natural calcite beads (for healing energy and stress reduction) and intense red garnet beads (for vitality, strength, and courage) and features a To Haiti With Love bird charm to symbolize peace and the promise of this incredible nation.  I’ve been wearing one for the last couple of months and I’ve felt inspirational energy radiate from it whenever I see it on my wrist (obviously, I have the bracelet version).

Keep in mind when you purchase a Malas for Haiti piece of jewelry, you’re getting (or giving in the case of a gift) beauty and love.  At the same time, you’re supporting a great local cause that is working to send love and support to those in need in Haiti.  Every single penny from Malas for Haiti sold are going to the projects mentioned above.  Just buying one can make a huge difference and send more love than you know.

Spring Clean Your Life

Part of the fun of being a small business owner is every single day is different.  Of course, I primarily teach yoga Mon-Fri but I also do things like writing documents (i.e. contracts, proposals, handouts), attending networking events in the Arlington area and running to the bank to make deposits.  I love the variety each day offers including what’s on tomorrow’s agenda:  abellaYoga is exhibiting at the City of Alexandria Health Fair. 

One of my booth giveaways is a handout I created on with simple Spring cleaning tips for the body, mind and soul.  I cut & pasted the tips below hoping  you might find something here useful for your life this Spring.  If you have other ideas, please share.

Do Yoga – Wring out the toxins in your body with a simple twist every morning.  Try this:  Lie on your back & hug your knees into your chest.  Open arms wide and drop your knees to left, look right.  Take 5 long inhales and exhales.  Switch. 

Stop Catalogs – Clutter in our homes mentally weighs us down.  Visit to stop getting junk mail you don’t want or need.  Online banking & billing is another great way to lighten your mailbox and keep your counters/desk clean.

Eat Greens – Don’t just go green, eat green!  Swiss chard, kale, arugula and mustard greens are high in cancer-fighting nutrients.  They will put pep in your step, sharpen your brain and boost your immune and circulatory systems.

Get Outside – Nature is powerful medicine.  Rain or shine, get outside and move daily.  Try working up a sweat –walk, run, bike, dance or do whatever you love– to get your heart pumping and rid your body of toxins & waste.  Bonus:  20 minutes outside without sunscreen will also give you a healthy, natural dose of vitamin D.  21 minutes and beyond?  Be wise and use sunscreen.

Water, Water, Water – The healthiest thing you can drink.  No calories, carbs, sugar or fat.  It fills you up.  Keeps your skin glowing.  Bored by the taste?  Add a lemon, lime or orange to give it a hint of natural flavor.

Vision Board Comes to Life

As some of you know I spent a few days last week at a meditation/writing retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, CO.  It was a serene three days of meditating and writing, without cell/internet/tv/radio service and 600 acres of land to explore at my leisure.

One of the unexpected highlights of my trip was spending time outside, in and around The Great Stupa.  I had read about it online prior to my trip but the online pics paled in comparison to seeing it live with my own eyes.  Nestled up in the mountains, about a 15 minute walk from where I slept each night, it is a spectacular sight from the outside in the midst of what seems like nowhere.  Even more stunning is the interior.  I spent a good 30 minutes inside each day meditating in this magnificent space in the presence of a 20′ gold Buddha statue.

On my second day there, I was getting up from my quiet time with the Buddha and a voice from behind asked if I would remain seated just a few more minutes.  Of course, I listened and complied.  Marvin Ross, an international photographer, was setting up shop.  After a few additional minutes of sitting, I was free to get up.

little me inside The Great Stupa

A couple days later, Marv kindly emailed me the shot.  It is beautiful and I think you’ll agree.  It is way more captivating than I expected.

Even more fascinating is it is almost a match of the central image on my 2011 Vision Board.  It’s as if when I selected the Buddha pic for my VB (a page I randomly ripped out of a magazine), and added the words “are you listening” that I was predicting something like The Stupa shot would happen.

Is it coincidence?

Was I simply in the right place at the right time?

Or did the energy from my Vision Board travel with me?

I wonder but continue to believe the universe works in mysterious & supportive ways.

Have Mat, Will Travel

Over the last few years I’ve shared info on my fav yoga mat by Manduka.  See Spoiled by Manduka and Can You Recommend a Yoga Mat?

The words I wrote back then still hold true today.  Even so much that when I went to Vail, CO last week (to do more spa-ing than skiing), I had my trusty (very thin) prana mat in tow.  For me, it’s a multipurpose mat.  Of course, I use it to practice yoga & meditate when on the road but I have another key use for it.

Have you ever noticed that the seat backs on airplanes are designed with a concave arche?  Huh?!?  When you sit back in the seat, your lower back has to round & your head jets forward?   Does that sound comfortable?  If you haven’t noticed, I’m sorry to say you’ve probably just gotten use to sitting poorly in what I believe is a very non ergonomic design.  My solution —use my 10 year-old rolled up prana mat to assist me in sitting tall.  I stand it up against the seat back and sit with my back on it.  It is perfect for keeping me comfy, or should I say as comfy as one can be on an airplane.

Unfortunately, since my mat is so old I don’t think the very thin version of it is still available.  Plus prana, like Manduka, are thankfully now offering more eco-friendly mats which tend to be a bit thicker than the one I have.  For another opinion on yoga travel mats, check out the Road Warriorette‘s product review.

Yoga mat + travel = happy girl.  Namaste!

In with the New, Out with the Old

With the plethora of yoga mats to select from these days –styles, colors, thicknesses, eco-friendly materials, etc. – it’s tempting to buy a new one every couple of years.  And many do, even when they don’t really NEED a new one.

A few times I’ve been asked by students “what can I do with my old mat?”  Usually I suggest donating it to a school or church that offers community yoga classes.    Though I’ve always felt this answer is a little vague since it doesn’t really point someone in a specific direction.  Needless to say, I was happy to recently stumble upon Gaiam’s article “50 Ways to Reuse Your Yoga Mat”.

I will admit a few of the suggestions are extremely creative, but I guarantee at least one of them will appeal to you.  Now you might feel good about buying a new mat even if you don’t really NEED it ☺

Services to Ease your Life in 2009

As a yogi, an easy way to practice the ethical principle of ahimsa (non-violence) towards the environment is to actively cut down your junk mail.  If you’re not sure how to do this start here… CatalogChoice and GreenDimes

I’ve reviewed both services and personally opted to go with Catalog Choice.  Sure it’s a little more work but I get the benefit of proactively managing what comes to my mail slot.  And it doesn’t cost me anything but a few minutes of my time.  Time Magazine recently ran an article on the junk mail topic.  For more, click here.

Realizing that not everyone practices asteya (non-stealing/non-coveting), it’s up to you to protect your credit file and reduce your chances of becoming a fraud victim.  Monthly I pay IdentityGuard to watch my name and credit.  Any accounts that are closed, opened or even peeked at are immediately brought to my attention.  I highly recommend this peace-of-mind service.

Lastly for a mini-break from the daily grind, visit DailyOM for some inspiration when you can’t make it to your yoga mat.  I discovered this site a few years back while working in the corporate office environment.  I use to receive their emails daily to provide me with a little solace in the midst of the office chaos.  Now I just visit the homepage of my website,, to enjoy it.

Spoiled by Manduka

I’ve said before “Manduka yoga mats rock”.  For the last 3 years, the purplelite ™ (Manduka’s 4.5 pound-travel mat) has been my yoga ride.  It’s an awesome mat.  I still highly recommend it.

Recently though, I was brainwashed by the environmentally friendly marketing leprechauns that I needed a new mat.  Frankly, I’ve been a tad curious about all these new eco-friendly yoga mats available.  Functionally, are they as good as what existed before?  Are people trashing their old mats for a hip eco-mat?  If so, that’s not very green.

Since my sturdy purplelite is starting to look slightly worn, I decided to go for the Manduka eKO friendly mat (eKO Lite™).  The sale price offered though The Y Catalog push me over the edge to finally make the purchase. The eKO Lite is nice but it’s not the same experience.

Like the purplelite, the eKO mat is durable and resists bunching.  For those looking for an enviro-friendly mat, it’s a natural rubber mat that apparently will “decompose completely at the end of its useful life without wasting valuable landfill space” (quoted from the Manduka site).  I understand what this means, but can’t we just donate mats when we’re done with them, create other uses for them, etc.?  And how long will it take the mat to decompose?  I’m assuming they don’t just magically puff out like smoke.

Including the fact that I jumped on the green bandwagon, I’m disappointed in my eco-friendly mat purchase/experience.  First, my purplite mat is still in good condition so I didn’t REALLY need to to go “green” to do yoga.  Second, the new eKO mat I bought lacks the comfort/support/cushion that Manduka mats are known for.  The purplelite™ as well as the 7lb. Black Mat ™ (yes, I have this one in my home studio) are luxury yoga mats.  Maybe my joints are getting old – who knows?!!?  The reality is it’s hard to go from comfort and luxury to no-cush, no support.  No offense, but its kind of like going from an S-Class Mercedes to an environmentally friendly car that has zero creature comforts.

Long story short, change is good right?  It’s getting through the first few steps of newness that we often resist.  In trying to practice what I preach, I’m staying open to the change.  When I go to practice in a studio or teach a corporate yoga class, I’m forcing myself to stick with my new eKO Lite.  I’m slowly getting use to have less support and I have been forced to shift my practice slightly.  For instance, in Ustrasana (camel pose) I now have no choice but to double-up my mat to protect my boney knees.  It’s made me realize how spoiled I’ve been by the Manduka purplelite.  It’s also reminded me of what the majority of my students feel when using thin yoga mats – no love from the hard floor below.  On the plus side, toting around one pound less of weight is a nice feature and is better for my spine.

Looking for a yoga mat?  Go with the Manduka purplelite.  In my opinion it is still the king of all yoga mats, including Manduka mats.  As for my purplelite yoga mat, it is currently the mat I use on the back deck of my house.