Archive for the ‘yoga products’ Category

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 ☺

Change. Hope. Inspire.

Dream. Faith. Transform. These are all meaningful words that have been used repeatedly since Obama was elected in November 2008.  They are also words that require action in order to be realized.

Over the weekend I made a commitment to participate in a “40 Day to Personal Revolution” program. For those familiar with Baron Baptiste, you may know this is one of his programs geared towards self-acceptance, personal growth and transformation. I suspect it will challenge me to create a new way of living, prioritizing and ultimately, a new way of being.

As I think about the 40 day challenge, and much like yoga, I understand it’s a process – a process I will need to engage in fully in order to experience results. It’s not up to anyone else; it’s up to me. By participating and doing the hard work, I am bound to discover changes beyond my imagination.

On the eve of the biggest Presidential Inauguration in history, I think about the similarities in a 40 day program and the promise of transformation the new President offers. President-elect Obama in particular, offers hope, positive change and inspiration for living much like a personal revolution program does. But he can’t do it alone. In order for change to happen, individuals (a.k.a. American citizens) must step up and participate in the process.

I’m sure many feel that by attending the DC events tomorrow they are doing their part to celebrate. Beyond Tuesday 1/20, will people continue to be involved? Will people continue to seek unity vs. living in separation? Will people want to do the work required for real change to happen? And I wonder, what actions will I take to help move America forward?

As Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Why use Yoga Blocks?

Also known as bricks in the yoga world, blocks are tools yoga students can use to make certain asanas (postures) more accessible.  Since every human body is different, poses will look and feel different for each student.  Blocks can assist in improving the feeling of the pose.

The main physical aim of asana practice is to find freedom in the body and the primary path of doing so is by focusing on lengthening the spine. Props such as blocks can aid in keeping yogis not only aligned properly but also assist in honoring the integrity of the spine and length in the sides of the body (from the waistline to the armpits).  Remember, it’s not what the pose looks like in your body, it’s what it feels like.

Pay attention the next time you’re in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) or Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon).  If you feel congested in the spine or collapsed on one side of your body, that’s a sure sign a block can help.  If you have trouble breathing in a standing twist (i.e. Seated Prayer Twist) with the arms open, consider using a block.  The block might just give you the little lift you need to open your chest and ease the flow of breath along the spine.

Blocks come in different shapes, sizes and materials.  In addition to blocks, other props you might consider using are straps, bolsters, blankets and chairs.  Yoga practice should be playful.  Mix it up by using props to explore.  For instance, try doing an entire practice with a block.  You might be surprised what you learn.  More importantly, you might be surprised how much better your body feels.

Things to Check Out

For some reason, my life crazy busy right now…two weddings in the last month, doctors appointments of all types (dentist, chiropractor, GYN, vet), teaching yoga, managing my business, visiting family in DE one weekend, catching up with long-lost friends on facebook (which I’m so behind on), dining with friends locally, staying on top of the house.  The list is endless.

I feel like the one thing keeping me sane is my daily yoga practice.  As crazy busy as I feel, my yoga offers calm.  Unfortunately, my blog has been neglected.  I hope to get back on track post-election day.  Until then, please enjoy the following links…

thePeaceAlliance.org
YogaMomMagazine.com
EvenKeelYoga.com

Writing from the Heart

Even though I never enjoyed writing, I started this yoga blog as a fun way to communicate with my students.  Of course I wondered, would people read it?  What would I write on a regular basis?

Shockingly, a lot of people actually like what I write.  Who knew my yoga off the mat would be interesting or even the least bit inspirational.  Who knew so many people, including my grandparents (Grandmom and Pop-Pop) and yogis from around the world, would be avid readers and comment on things I write.  Lastly, who knew I would be asked to review yoga products and promote them on my little yoga blog.  In fact, I’ve even been offered money to do so multiple times.

I have kept it my policy not to advertise on my blog.  I’ve turned down a few paid offers to post/promote other companies/websites, as I believe it would change the dynamic of this blog.  I like being “homegrown”, small and personal.  Frankly, this is probably a result of working too long in corporate America and being rubbed the wrong way.  Not everything in life is about money.

With that said, two small companies have recently caught my attention.  How?  One was the personal approach taken, and two; I like what they’re offering and the stories behind them.  Lastly, I find them both very creative.  See for yourself.  Visit Tickle My Chi and YogaMatic.

This blog is about whatever comes to mind and speaks to my heart.  I will continue to write from my heart and not get sidetracked or bribed to do something other than what speaks to me.  If you have started a yoga related business –yoga clothes, mats, jewelry, events – or opened a yoga studio, I’d love to hear from you.  If you’ve written a yoga book or yoga blog from your heart, I want to hear from you.  Let me know what inspired you.  Entrepreneurs all have a story.  I’d love to hear your story!

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.

Discipline

Discipline is practice.  Practice is discipline.  Meditation takes both practice and discipline.

I’m reading Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga for the third time.  What’s different this time is I’ve decided to actually follow-through with the suggested practices at the end of each chapter.  They are practices and discipline is required.

Coincidentally, the first chapter I’m working on (chapter 2) is titled “Discipline”.  For the next month, I have decided to commit to practicing one thing 15 minutes per day.

Picking one thing is tough!  Like many, I have a long list of “to do’s” I want to accomplish.  And again like many, my excuse has been lack of time.  What I’ve realized in just reading Chapter 2 is the truth is I lack commitment and clear intention as to why I want to do these “things”.   Like most things, it’s easy to make the list (i.e. talk about it) and a lot harder to carry it out (i.e. do it).  If your heart and intention aren’t in sync than more than likely you won’t fully accomplish the “to do”.

Discipline is less about what you get and more about what you give.  So for 10-15 minutes a day, I’m giving myself the gift of meditation.  It’s only been 5 days but so far so good.  I’m also not beating myself up if it isn’t the full 10-15 minutes.  The fact that I’m carving out the time, sitting in my space and doing my best to listen within is the practice.

Practice isn’t about being perfect.  Just practicing is perfect and meditation is a perfect discipline.

My Mala Beads Broke

I’m sad to report a thread on my crystal mala beads came loose over the weekend.  The beads are no longer wearable.  I wonder…did I jinx myself by writing my previous posting?

On the flip side, I emailed The Y Catalog (www.theYcatalog.com) to find out what type of return policy they have or if there is a way to repair them.  I received a reply within 24 hours. Like most retailers, they offer a 30-day return/exchange/refund.  I have had my beads slightly more than 30 days so I was pleasantly surprised that they have offered to exchange them.  I am more than happy with the way they handled my request.

If you haven’t ordered from The Y Catalog, check out their site.  They have a great selection of quality yoga items.  Best of all, 10% of everything you spend goes to supporting charitable causes.

Yoga Jewelry vs. Mala Beads

I practice yoga a lot.  I have a lot of “yoga” type clothes.  I have a ton of yoga books, mats, related music, etc.  One thing I’m “anti” is yoga jewelry.  Don’t get me wrong; there are some nice/cute/sexy pieces out there.  For instance, check out www.SatyaJewelry.com or www.theYcatalog.com.  And I love jewelry, but yoga jewelry?

My personal opinion is the yoga accessory category has gone overboard.  I don’t need to wear yoga jewelry to verify my commitment to yoga.  I don’t need to tattoo an OM symbol on my neck to prove to others I’m a yogi.

I know accessories are an expression of who we are but at some point, enough is enough.  True expression comes from the heart –thoughts, words and actions.  Yoga is a way of life.  People can see it from my face, posture and shine.  I don’t need material items to express yoga; it naturally expresses itself through me, out of me.

On the flip side, to keep me focused in my meditation practice I did purchase some jade mala beads last year from The Y Catalog.  I originally just used them for my meditation practice but then I started to wear them.  They felt good to wear.  Next thing I knew, I was receiving compliments on them…multiple compliments.

What happened next?  I ordered the faceted crystal mala beads, and I love them.  I rotate between the crystal and jade beads for meditation and wear them regularly as well.  Funny thing, I continue to receive compliments.  Needless to say, I have mixed feelings now on what I term yoga jewelry.

P.S.  If you’re not sure what mala beads are, check out this link: www.yogajournal.com/practice/2579

Need a Yoga Mat?

If you’re new to yoga, you’re probably overwhelmed by the various styles of yoga. Equally confusing is which type of yoga mat to buy. Cheap, thick, eco-friendly, colorful…so many choices. Where does one start? Read this first: http://www.bclocalnews.com/lifestyles/22728759.html

Also, don’t be shy about asking your local yoga studio for some recommendations. For sanitary reasons, it’s best to have your own mat so do commit to buying one. Get a variety of opinions and then take the plunge.

Keep in mind that if you use your yoga mat a couple times a week you’ll more than likely buy a new one in a year or so. So don’t worry if you don’t’ fall in love with the first mat you buy. It’s practice. It’s part of your yoga experience. It’s trial and error…and isn’t life?

Lastly, keep in mind your old yoga mat can be donated once you’ve had enough of it. Happy mat shopping!