Archive for the ‘yoga products’ Category

OM, OM, OM (sutra 1.27 & 1.28)

Yesterday morning after my 20 minute pranayama & meditation practice I picked up The Yoga Sutras and thought “I will open them and whatever sutra my finger lands on I will write about that sutra this week.”  My first attempt I landed on sutra 2.7 (attachment) which I recently wrote about.  My second attempt I landed on sutra 1.27The expression of Ishwara is the mystic sound of OM.  (Note OM is God’s name as well as form).

Two thoughts crossed my mind 1) Oh no, I’m not going to get into the God discussion.  2)  Didn’t I already write a post about OM (see Why OM? crafted Sept 2008).  Though as the day wore on a few things confirmed that this is the sutra for the week.   My private yoga client asked at the end of her session “why do we OM?”  Then I was sad to read last night that OM Yoga Center in NYC is closing the end of June.  And after wearing my Juil sandals (known for their energy grounding benefits) all day yesterday I realized OM was definitely the sutra for me.

I’m adding sutra 1.28 to this posting since I believe for each of us OM represents something different (sutra 1.28 To repeat it in a meditative way reveals its meaning.) especially once we begin to chant it on a regular basis.  During my Dharma Mittra yoga teacher training last Fall, I chanted OM for 10 minutes every morning for 30 days.  For me, it had a very internal cleansing effect.  It’s really hard to describe but I felt as if some negative vibes were being scrubbed out of me.

At the beginning and end of every class I teach, we OM as a group.  I tell my students we do it as a way to connect with one another.  For some it has a calming effect.  For others it gets them comfortable with their voices.  Chanting OM is also a way to feel the aliveness throughout every cell in the body.

Sutra 1.27 states OM is God’s name as well as form.  Again, not that I want to get into the God discussion here but God to me represents your highest, best Self.  This is the meaning that has been revealed to me.  Some also say divine Self.  I like to think of OM as a way of connecting to our highest thoughts, words and actions as well as a way of grounding us in the moment.

Speaking of grounding, this is where the mention of Juil sandals comes into play.  I received a pair of Juil’s “hera” sandals and they’re amazing.  With the early summer weather we’ve had recently here in DC (yes, it was 90 degrees last week) I’ve been able to really take them for a few good test walks.  They are extremely well made, stylish and oh so comfy.  Our feet are our connection to the earth and the foundation of our bodies.  For many of us (and there is plenty of research to support this), we are wearing shoes that cramp our feet and prohibit our connection to the ground below.  When our feet are out of sorts, our body eventually become out of sorts (i.e. knee issues, hip concerns, lower back pain).  If you’re in need of a good-looking shoe that also has the added benefit of making you feel healthy and happy (please see this link for those details), I definitely suggest checking out Juil.

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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.

The Only Constant: Change

“I’m coaching you to dance with the one constant in life:  change.  Do you choose stagnation or the unknown?  Every choice you make can propel you toward change or keep you in the same dulling, suffocating box.  Change is rebirth.  When a caterpillar weaves herself into a chrysalis and undergoes metamorphosis, she emerges as a butterfly, bearing only the merest resemblance to her earlier form.  Transformation can be really exciting, but we have to tolerate an incredible period of vulnerability when we emerge from the chrysalis, unfurling our very wet, very fragile wings.  We discover that none of the old rules apply – not even how we nourish our new selves.  Leaves don’t cut it any more; only nectar will do.

I’ve learned to recognize that with every change, I’m going to end up in new territory -whether I embrace it, shed my chrysalis, and evolve or go down kicking and screaming.  I’ve done it both ways and the choice is clear:  I like to go through my changes with some amount of elegance and balance.”

The above paragraphs are not my words at all.  As it is typed here, these words are straight from Ana Forrest’s book Fierce Medicine  (bottom of page 240).  Since I have felt such a huge connection when I first read the above sentences back in June, and every single time since then, I was inspired to share.  These words truly resonate with where I am in my life now, the journey with Dharma Mittra I’m about to embark on and the way I’ve learned to view life over the last few years.

My life hasn’t always been filled with elegance & balance but I can say today I try to step in that direction every chance I get (& remember!) and help inspire others to do the same.  And every time I read page 240 from Ana’s book, it serves as a huge reminder to me every single second of life offers change.  It’s up to each of us, me and you, to change with it.

Whether you are new to yoga or own 4, 5 or 6 yoga mats, this book will give you many things to ponder, appreciate (I feel even more grateful for my childhood after reading about hers) and take charge of in your life.  Fierce Medicine is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  Even if you’re not a huge yoga fan or Ana Forrest lover, I guarantee something powerful will jump off at least one of the pages for you if you read this book with an open mind .

God

Who is God?  Why is the topic of he/she/shim so complicated and controversial?  Part of my summer “to do” list is to read The Bhagavad Gita again for the 3rd time in 4 years.  I am trying and hoping to finally make some sense of it.  So as I’ve started reading it I can’t help but contemplate this God/Krishna/Allah/Buddha question.

My teacher Dharma Mittra ends all his classes by saying “Be receptive to the grace of God”.  Thoughts of “how, what, why, who is this God” spin through my head.  In writing this post this morning, I discovered God has a website God.com  Who knew he was so tech savvy?

Seriously though, I am confused.  Here’s a little background on me so you get where I’m coming from…First through sixth grade I went to Catholic school.  However since I was baptized in the Episcopal church down the street I couldn’t walk up to the Catholic altar with the other kids in the class.  So several times a week when the school had to go to the adjacent Catholic church for service there were a handful of us sweet kids who had to sit back in the pews and observe from afar the altar process.  Hmmm…as a kid this made little sense.  If God truly loves all, shouldn’t we all be allowed up there?  Does God discriminate?

Along with my Monday-Friday Catholic schooling, on Sundays I went to the Episcopal church with my parents.  This lasted only until about 8th grade or so.  Suddenly post junior high, we only went to church for special occasions – Easter, Christmas, etc.  Less church was fine by me given I didn’t know many of the kids at the Episcopal church because they all went to different schools.  Plus, I felt I had enough of the church structure embedded in me grades 1-6 by the Nuns and I was honestly very confused by all the God/Jesus speak.

Fast forward to my 20’s…I’m still confused.  I continued to only go to church for special occasions when visiting family in DE over the holidays.  To me these church trips were nice family time spent in a way that honored traditional holidays.  What threw me is certain people in my life started to be come religious/God fanatics.  For example, every letter/card/gift I started receiving from them always had to have some reference to God.  This was enough to push me away from the God idea.  When did God decide to get into marketing & advertising?

At 29 years of age when planning to get married, my confusion continues…I was content with a Justice of the Peace.  I arranged one and a few weeks before our wedding day I hear “Your Grandmother has always said getting married by the JoP doesn’t count”.  So Brian and I scrambled to find a non-JoP to marry us.  We were referred to a Catholic Priest who can no longer practice in the church because he is married.  I think once again…is God discriminating?  Who make s up these rules?  If God is so loving, why was this nice man excluded from doing his work/service in a church?    Anyway, we interviewed the Catholic Priest who can’t practice in a church in the food court at Potomac Mills Mall.  Indeed it was a very odd place to meet the person who is going to marry us but it was what it was.  By the way, our wedding a couple of weeks later was perfect.

The point of all of this is as I meditated this morning for some reason I thought about God – this mysterious aura that surrounds each of us.  I do believe there is something powerful and beyond each of us that supports every step we take and just as easily at times likes to shake us up a bit (i.e. natural disasters) to get us back on track.  I don’t believe that driving around with GOD RULES bumper stickers and going to church every Sunday is the only way to believe in God.  I am not saying I even know what the way is as I am clearly at 39 still confused (if you can’t tell).  Though something tells me I’m not alone on this.  So as I read The Bhagavad Gita, Talks Between the Soul and God I wonder who is God?  Am I God?  Is God in me?  Is God in you?  God help me make sense of this book.  God help us all make sense of you.

PS:  So far this is the best translation (The Bhagavad Gita, Talks Between the Soul and God) of The BG I’ve picked up.  I highly recommend it.  Maybe my confusion will be cleared up.  One/God/I can only hope!

Yoga All the Time

After my sweaty yoga practice yesterday morning at Down Dog, I headed straight to a small business lending workshop in Arlington.  Suits surrounded me and there I stood in my professional yoga teacher uniform – black lululemon groove pants, blue canoe twist top and abellaYoga shirt.  Not the point of this blog post, but I do love how I can go straight from a sweaty yoga outfit into a non-sweaty one and get away with it since it’s my profession 🙂

Anyway as typical for a breakfast event, it started with coffee, bagels/fruit and networking.  After the opening remarks, there was a choice of workshops to attend.  As we split up, I picked a seat where the previous person left an empty coffee cup.  As I dropped my bag down and was picking up the cup to take to the trashcan, I said to myself “sure, I don’t mind cleaning up after you” -sarcastically of course!  Not knowing who had been sitting there I continued to think “didn’t your parents teach you to pick up after yourself?”

Within seconds, I kid you not, a gentleman on crutches came back into the room towards the very seat I had put down my stuff.  In that moment I realized given his circumstances, he was unable to pick up his cup.  As it was he was juggling his TD Bank handouts and crutches with a smile on his face.  My mind quickly quieted.

While walking back from the trashcan, the following Yoga Sutra came to mind:  By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and equanimity toward the nonvirtuous, the mind-stuff retains its undisturbed calmness.  Sutra 1.33, Inside the Yoga Sutras

Can’t get to your yoga mat today?  Carry this Sutra with you and I’m sure you’ll find a few ways throughout your day to practice yoga.  As a Manduka‘s (I think?) current yoga mat print ad reads, practice yoga all the time!

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!

Yoga Sutra Enthusiasm

There are two essential reading requirements for all Yoga Teachers:  Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and The Bhagavad Gita.  For over 7 or 8 years I’ve picked up various copies of the Yoga Sutras and honestly I just didn’t them.  Overwhelming, boring and lost were all adjectives I would use to describe my reading experience and lack of understanding.

During the Summer of 2009 I had a shift.  I discovered Nischala Joy Devi’s “The Secret Power of Yoga” and could actually follow her translation.  Then I had the privilege (thanks to Beloved Yoga in Reston, VA) of attending a 2 day Yoga Sutra workshop with her and that’s when things started to click.  Though this book is written from a feminine voice (which is rare in the Yoga Sutra world), don’t let it fool you.  Yogis (males) and yoginis (females) alike can benefit from Nischala’s thoughtful approach and application of the Sutras in daily life.

Additionally just before Christmas, I ordered “Inside the Yoga Sutras”.  This translation had been recommended to me multiple times, but I was skeptical.  I love it!  I am now completely happy with the Yoga Sutra books I own – well I love two of the four.  Though I figure I must have all of them for some reason -right?

Part of the yoga process is finding what works for you.  In my case, finding Yoga Sutra translations that resonate with me are part of my yoga journey.  Now if I could only fall in love with The Bhagavad Gita.  As the Buddha said “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.