Tuesday, August 31, 2010

5 More Things Your Teacher Wants You to Know

Image: www.discoveryyoga.com
1. When your teacher says it's OK to take care of yourself--rest in Child's Pose, modify a difficult pose to make it better suit your body's needs for the day, etc.--she actually means it!

2. While it might be somewhat rude to come into class a few minutes late, it's preferable to not coming at all. You have to practice to get the benefits of yoga and your teacher knows sometimes the traffic doesn't cooperate.

3. It's the ultimate compliment to your teacher when you have an emotional break-through and shed a tear during class. It's OK! It means you released some emotion you were holding in your body!

4. Your teacher is probably not a mind reader. If he does something that makes you feel bad--whether it's an adjustment that pushes you too far or a comment that embarrasses you in front of the class--tell him! He really wants to give you the best experience possible!

5. You know how the perfect yoga class for your mood and energy level makes your entire day? Hearing that the class she led made her students day better will make your yoga teacher's day better. Just as you like to hear positive feedback when your poses are improving, your teacher would probably like to hear feedback about her teaching. (BTW, showing up to class regularly is an excellent way to give this feedback!)

Note: Many of the items on this list came from reader suggestions from an earlier post! For more read, 5 Things Your Yoga Teacher Wants You to Know.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Interview with 27 Things to Know About Yoga Author Victoria Klein

1. Tell me what inspires your yoga practice? Why did you take your first yoga class?

I took my first yoga class when I was still in high school – either in 2000 or 2001. My mum was actually the one who suggested I try it; she had taken a class at the new local fitness center and thought it was really fun. The class was an Anusara/Iyengar-style that focused on alignment and the room wasn’t heated. After just one class, I was hooked. My mind was quiet, my body felt strong and capable; my posture had never been so straight!

Since then, my yoga practice has been a bit inconsistent, but I restarted my regular (at-home) practice a few years after my first class. At the time, I was suffering from crippling depression and anxiety – I was so nervous that I couldn’t leave the house to check the mailbox. My yoga practice helped me to gain inner confidence and overall mental clarity. Over time, my practice has helped me grow in ways I never could have imagined, including moving across the country twice, ceasing my psychological medication, and getting married.

2. What inspired your book? Who did you write it for?

27 Things to Know About Yoga is inspired by all the basic questions that I’ve been asked about yoga. The minute that someone knows that I practice yoga, the questions begin. Don’t get me wrong – I am delighted to talk about yoga, but folks usually ask about things that I thought were common knowledge. After working at a San Francisco yoga studio for a year, it quickly became clear that yoga knowledge is not common. My goal is to change that.

The book is for anyone and everyone. I know that sounds a bit hokey, but it’s true. It's for men, women, young, old, tall, short, heavy, skinny, or anywhere in between--yoga can help us all in ways we can’t foresee. The key is to get people to just try yoga. I wrote this book to help regular people get an honest, easy-to-understand look at the basics of yoga, including the often-misunderstood spiritual principles.

3. The first sentence of your book says: "Yoga is not a cult, a religion, an overnight sensation, hedonism, self-torture, or magic." To me, sometimes it does feel like self-torture (and sometimes it feels like magic, too). Which pose feels most like torture for you, and what do you do to help yourself through it? What's your favorite pose?

I’m right there with you! Nothing worth doing is easy and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones is a key part of a happy life. A few poses that really tax my body: Revolved Triangle Pose (will my back leg ever be straight!?), Plank Pose (tell my arms to stop shaking), and Crane Pose (face, meet the floor). To get through these poses, I focus on my breath. Yes, they are difficult and I can’t perform them with technical accuracy, but I try – and I keep on trying because I won’t get better without practice.

My all-time favorite pose is Tree Pose, closely followed by Triangle Pose and Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. My personality is naturally a bit flighty, and Tree Pose helps me calm my mind and stay focused, grounded. Triangle Pose and Half Lord of the Fishes Pose both feature a personal favorite: twisting! Nothing makes my back feel happier.

4. What's the most important thing you want people who read your book to learn?

Ninety-nine percent of what you’ve heard about yoga is bull crap. Approach yoga with an open mind and willingness to experiment until you find what style and teacher is just right for you.

5. What's next for you? Are you going to write another book?

I already did! :) My second book, 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living, will be released at the end of October 2010. I’m also in my second year of college, working towards an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. My husband is heading for Marines Corps boot camp on September 13th, so I see a lot of moving in our future.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Puppy Pose

This is what my home practice looks like.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is Yoga Bringing Sexy Back?

Image: www.Yoga.lv

Oh me, oh my... There have been a lot of discussions in yoga blogland lately about sex. Why do businesses use sexy advertising to sell yoga products? Why are most of the images we see of yoga practitioners in the media all people with hot bodies? Why are we so worried about sex, anyway? Isn't one of the Eight Limbs of yoga about NOT having sex (or at least exercising mindfulness about who you have sex with)?

I have a theory. Yoga is incredibly, amazingly, deliciously sexy. How can it not be? Deep audible breathing.. sweaty bodies contorting into all sorts of fascinating positions... hip openers... Ahem... cultivating the strength and control to hoist your entire body weight up on one hand.. Forget it! And that's just the physical part of the practice. How sexy is it to take care of yourself, be healthy, gain confidence, find balance, listen to your intuition, learn discipline, believe in something bigger—heck, believe in anything at all?!? Frankly, I'm getting a little hot and bothered just thinking about it.

I don't care if you're a size 2 or a 22, male or female, black or white--you could be an alien from outer space, for crying out loud, and it wouldn't change a thing. In my book, if you do yoga, you are sexy. You just are.

Is it right to use sexy images to sell yoga stuff? I don't know. I'm not the judge of what's right and wrong. But I certainly understand why advertisers make that connection. Personally, I'm glad people think yoga is kinda sexy. Things we associate with yoga (health, strength, discipline, etc.) is a much more positive view of what sexy is than a lot of other "sexy" things in the media--drinking, drugs, eating disorders, promiscuity, one-night stands... Sheesh.

I also see how sexy yoga advertising could be sending a less-than-positive message about what yoga is. I understand that. Call me an optimist, but maybe (just maybe) these ads will get more people interested enough to try yoga for themselves so they can determine what yoga is for them. Now, that's a radical idea! (And by radical, I mean totally rad!)

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

5 More Things Every Beginning Yoga Student Should Know

Image: Fitsugar.com

1. Everyone gets the left and right sides mixed up sometimes. Don't be embarrassed when this happens. If your teacher corrects you, just smile. There's a good chance she'll say "left" when she means "right" later in the class.

2. It's cool to fall down. The first time I fell on my face while attempting an arm balance, I was mortified. Now, when I get a big red mark on my forehead from diving head-first into my mat, I consider it a badge of honor. It's how you learn. Laugh at yourself and move on!

3. No one cares if you can do a Handstand in the middle of the room, or touch your foot to the back of your head, or some other advanced pose. Just start where you are, and your practice will build over time. You've got the rest of your life to master the poses--for now, just breathe.

4. Your teacher wants you to ask for help. No one understands the temptation to hide in the back row and pretend to be invisible more than I do. But believe me when I say yoga teachers LOVE to answer your questions. Your teacher really wants to help you with your pose, answer your question about philosophy, or explain what that Sanskrit word means. So if you don't understand what's going on, ask!

5. Keep coming back. When your new to anything there will be moments of frustration and discomfort. Despite what you might see on TV commercials, hatha yoga is usually not the same as going to a spa to get pampered. It's hard work. It can be exhausting--physically, mentally, and emotionally. At times you will want to throw up your hands and quit (or at least curse out your teacher for making you hold that pose you hate). Don't. This is where the healing happens. Breathe into it, and come back tomorrow. You'll be glad you did.

For more, read 5 Things Every Beginning Yoga Student Should Know.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back-to-Studio Shopping: Fall Yoga Fashion Round-Up

The beginning of fall has been my favorite time of year since, oh.. probably about the second grade. It's not just because the leaves will start turning soon, or because it means my birthday is coming up. No, I think I'll always associate this time of year with a new beginning--new notebooks, pencils, organizers, and new school clothes. I distinctly remember the picture my dad took of the 7-year-old me on my first day of second grade. Sure, I was missing some front teeth, but I looked SO COOL in my new outfit: a white shirt with a teddy bear wearing sunglasses on the front and red shorts.

Alas, I am no longer in school, so back-to-school shopping is a distant memory. That doesn't mean I can't still approach this time of year as a new beginning!

I guess yoga clothing companies feel the same way, because many of them came out with their new fall collections this week. With yoga classes in session all year round, going back-to-school shopping might not be necessary, but if you're in the market for new duds, it sure can be fun! Here are a few of the highlights.

Lululemon. Lulu is marketing their new "art hoodie" series, which as far as I can tell is just the black and grey remix hoodie with either a butterfly, rose, or the word "love" printed on it. It's cool, but I wish they had more colors. The art hoodies are $98 and available only online at lululemon.com.


Zobha. Zobha (Zobha.com) has great new colors, prints, and layering pieces perfect for autumn. Zobha always offers sleek, sophisticated designs and the new collection is no exception. I love the dresses (I just ordered one at half-price!) and chic jackets. I adore the Moroccan Blue color! Unfortunately, with the new collection, Zobha also introduced a higher price on signature tanks--$62! Ouch! I guess I'll have to wait for the next clearance.


 Be Present. It looks like Be Present has a new fabric! I haven't tried it (or seen it in person), but from the pictures the new Performance Renew Intention Pant and Performance Renew Lounge Pant looks like quite a departure from the signature "Breathe Weave" fabric Be Present uses for most of its other pants. The new pants look stretchier and more fitted.  The pants are currently available on the website, BePresent.com. I like the new look, and for $63 it's worth a try if you're in the market for a new pair of yoga pants. I also LOVE the Renew Circle Scarf ($29)--what a great, affordable piece to punch up your yoga wardrobe for Fall!


Alo (Air. Land. Ocean.). I think I'm in love with the look of Alo's new Origami Tank in deep purple ($49). I also have to give kudos to Alo for stepping up their social networking game with a new blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages. All of this means better communication and better customer service! Check out the new video of the their Fall Holiday 2010 photoshoot at alosport.com.


 
Lucy. In the spirit of back-to-school shopping, I had to share with you my favorite item from Lucy Activewear! If you always wanted to be a cheerleader, but never got the opportunity Lucy's Long Precision Hoodie ($138) is for you! With its cute, pleated skirt, it reminds me of a grown up, slightly more sophisticated, version of a cheerleader uniform. Lucy.com

Will you be going back-to-studio shopping this fall?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

ENTER TO WIN: Spoiled Yogi Giveaway!


 If you were to run into me on any weekend day, there's about a 50 percent chance I'd be wearing the Kalyani Top (designed by Devi sold at Beebliss.com). It's my absolute favorite T-shirt--soft, comfortable, flattering, and a constant reminder of the goddess yoga teachers me I am. I feel great every time I put it on. I want you to feel great, too! So I contacted my friend at Beebliss to see if she'd like to sponsor the first ever Spoiled Yogi Giveaway... She said yes!!

Yippee!

To enter, all you have to do is help us spread the word!
Here's how:

1. Comment below. Tell us about something that inspires your yoga and makes you feel fabulous!

2. Tweet it! Follow us on Twitter! Then, let all your Twitter followers know about the giveaway! Remember to mention @SpoiledYogi and @Beebliss in your tweet. Something like: I just entered the @Beebliss @SpoiledYogi Giveaway! You should, too! http://bit.ly/a0xIz4

3. Fan Beebliss and SpoiledYogi on Facebook.

4. Join the Beebliss mailing list at Beebliss.com and the Spoiled Yogi mailing list (there's a form in the right-hand column on this page).

We'll announce the winner on September 1!
Good luck!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To Do List

Every day I have a to do list that goes on for miles. I check off things like "Do the laundry," "Edit that story you've been putting off," and "Go to the grocery store." It feels great when everything on my list is checked off, and equally unsettling when I leave an item or two for tomorrow. While the things on my to-do list do benefit my life, I've noticed they don't leave my soul feeling happy and fulfilled. So I've decided to write a different kind of to do list today--a to do list that's JUST for me, with no deadlines, no judgment, no goal other than to make myself feel happier and more content.

 1. Learn to CHILL OUT.
 2. Stop being stressed.
 3. Care less about what people think.
 4. Enjoy life more.
 5. Pay more attention to each breath, the pretty colors, and the warmth of the sun on your skin.
 6. Pay less attention to negativity, jealousy, nerves, and petty emotions.
 7. Take a pottery class.
 8. Get your hands REALLY dirty.
 9. Be less afraid to look stupid.
10. Be more spontaneous.
11. Practice smiling in your liver.
12. Stretch just because it feels good.
13. Run ... like Phoebe on Friends.
14. Sing really LOUDLY every time you take a road trip.
15. Take more road trips.
16. Stay for longer than the weekend.
17. Paint pictures to hang on your walls.
18. Learn to sew handbags.
19. Buy a fancy camera.
20. Learn to use a fancy camera.
21. Get more massages.
22. Laugh at things that aren't funny, just for the heck of it.
23. Go to a park JUST to sit on a bench and take it all in.
24. Read more books.
25. Write a short story.
26. Learn to make jam.
27. Count the stars.
28. Smile at strangers.
29. Send mores letter.
30. Observe more, do less.
31. Eat more delicious food.
32. Sleep in.
33. Swim in the ocean.
34. Make new friends.
35. Get re-acquainted with old friends.
36. Spend more time at the dog park.
37. Listen as much as you talk.
38. Write a poem for your beloved.
39. Write a poem for yourself.
40. Make more whoopy.
41. Plant flowers.
42. Play in the rain.
43. Get lost in the woods--but not too lost.
44. Be thankful.
45. Forgive yourself.
46. Watch the sun rise.
47. Notice what animals the clouds resemble.
48. Be silly.
49. Be fearless.
50. Be unapologetic for being you!

What's on your to do list?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Best Yoga Teacher Jokes

Image: Funny-Potato.com
I happen to think my yoga teachers are pretty funny. And thank goodness for that! When teachers tell jokes in class, it lightens the mood and sometimes puts things into perspective when you're struggling through a pose you find difficult or uncomfortable (or just plain hate!).

Here are a few of my favorite yoga teacher jokes.

1. Sink your front thigh deeper and think to yourself, what if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about.

2. How many Iyengar students does it take to changes a light bulb? Only one, but she'll need four blankets, a chair, six blocks, and two straps.

3. Another Chaturanga? If you insist!

4. Close your eyes. If you can still see me, it could be a sign that your eyes are still open.

5. What does a dyslexic cow say? Oooommmm.

I'd love to hear your favorite yoga teacher jokes, too! Please add them by commenting below!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What Does Your Yoga Mat Say about You?


Trendy Mat. If you use a mat with an extra cushion in the middle for your bum or some other trendy, new mat that just came out it could be a sign that you have a yoga mat addiction. Another sign would be that you have so many mats you choose a mat to go with your outfit.

Mat with Skidless Towel. This is the sign of a hot yoga practitioner. If you sprung to buy an expensive towel to mop up your sweat because if you didn't your mat would turn into a slip-n-slide, you probably don't spend much time in Restorative classes. I'm just sayin'.

Pink Mat. Girly girl! (Or maybe a breast cancer research supporter.) For the record, I can tell the difference by looking at your pedicure. :)

Super Thick Mat. You probably have bony knees. Or a bony butt. It's cool. I'm not judging—our bodies are all different.

Extra Long Mat. You're tall. Congratulations! You don't have to rub it in!

Shiny and New PVC Mat. When someone unrolls a shiny, new Target PVC mat beside of me in a yoga studio, I want to hug him and say, "Welcome to our club!" I don't, of course, because a new mat doesn't always mean a new student. And if he is a new student, a hug from a weird yoga girl he doesn't know might freak him out a little. In any case, this kind of mat often means someone new to yoga bought the cheapest mat they could find to test the waters so they can decide if yoga is right for them or not.

Smelly, New Eco Mat. After a few years practicing yoga, people often get word that their old PVC mat is harmful to the planet. So, for some reason, they toss it out and get a new "Eco" mat. (Of course, I would argue that this is less friendly to the environment than just sticking with the mat they already have. But the intention is good.) So when I see someone with this kind of mat, I think they're either a new convert or someone who likes to buy new yoga mats.

Worn In Eco Mat. This is the kind of mat yoga enthusiasts most often have. High-quality mats are durable and eco-friendly—so they can last 10 years and still look worn in, not worn out!

Worn OUT Mat. People become pretty attached to their mats, so this could be why someone would want to hold on to theirs even though it's falling apart. In any case, if it takes 10 years to wear out one of these mats, a person who uses a worn out one has done some serious time practicing! Good job.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Poses that Suck

Image: MyYogaOnline.com
Every yoga student I've met has at least one pose that pisses him off--at least a little bit. If you've been reading my blog long you know that I hate—no, detest—maybe even, LOATHE--Parivrtta Trikonasa (Revolved Triangle) and its close relatives Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) and Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana (Revolved Half Moon Pose). Frankly, the only thing I hate more is the teacher who asks me to hold one of these poses for more than three breaths. (Of course, the hate subsides into sincere gratitude when the teacher lets me come out of the pose.)

Yesterday, I was in a yoga class that incorporated my least favorite poses. We held Revolved Triangle. Then, we held Revolved Half Moon. I cursed under my breath and thought, I'm never coming here again! But in the next set of poses, the teacher called out Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose). Finally! A pose I love! Then, it hit me. You see, it wasn't so long ago that I hated Half Moon Pose with as much enthusiasm as I now hate Revolved Triangle. In fact, I remember thinking one of my teachers kept teaching it just to mock me—including it into every class just so he could see me fall over. (Jerk!) But with time, I got better at it. I didn't fall down any more , and eventually I learned to love it. 

Since then, I've been thinking about what makes us hate the poses we hate. Is it because they bring out our physical weaknesses, which irritates our egos? Could it be that they simply make us uncomfortable? When we learn to like a pose we once hated, will we always find another pose to dislike, or is that just me? Does anyone not hate at least one pose?

How has your most hated pose evolved during the time you've practiced?

Friday, August 6, 2010

5 Reasons to Practice in Your Living Room

1. You get to choose your own adventure. Have you ever gone to a yoga class to find the teacher planned to focus on an intense backbend practice when all you have the energy to do is lie over a bolster? Yeah, me too. When I practice in my living room, I can do whatever I want. I like being in charge.

2. Be free from fashion rules. You don't have to worry about panty lines, falling out of your top, or other common wardrobe malfunctions.

3. Be FREE. If you need to swing around like a crazy person in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) to release your neck, you can do it without fear of judgement... No one will think you're a crazy person (even if you are) because no one's watching. Except maybe your husband, but he probably already knows you're a crazy person.

4. Set your own schedule. You don't have to follow someone else's schedule. You can practice any time you feel like it! After years of following studio schedules, it's a liberating feeling.

5. Be your own teacher. I have been notoriously bad about practicing at home--I like to be led by others so I don't have to think--but the times I've practiced alone and followed my intuition has taught me a lot about yoga and a lot about myself.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thank You, Yoga Trailblazers!



I was filled with so much gratitude as I watched this video, I had to share it. Today, there are yoga studios on every block. When we want more info about a pose, we simply type its name into Google and find countless images, articles, and videos. When I started practicing in 2002, it was still kind of an eccentric thing to do where I was living at the time—which, of course, was part of its appeal to my 19-year-old self. But I had a teacher and a class to go to every week. Thankfully, no one called the police to report me. I can't even imagine what it would have been like to have begin practicing yoga 35 years ago. I also know that if there weren't people who did, we wouldn't have access to the teachers, the community, the support, and all the information we have today. I'm grateful for those people who brazed the trail before me, because I'm not sure I could have done what they did.

Say what you will about Yoga Journal (when I worked there, I got the emails, so I've already heard it all!), but you can't deny the huge part that magazine has played in giving us all access to the practice we love (even if they never put a man on the cover!) We're all better off for it.

Eoin Finn's Pure and Simple Yoga DVD

Eoin Finn is one cool yoga dude! And his DVD, Pure and Simple Yoga for Stiffies & People Who Enjoy Slow Flow, does a great job at making yoga accessible--especially for other cool yoga dudes... and stiff people... and over-worked people... OK. There's something for pretty much everyone. The most unique part of the DVD is that it gives you a choice to see the poses modified for people who are a stiffer or new to the practice. I love this idea because I think so many people leave their first yoga classes believing that yoga isn't for them because the teacher caters to more advanced students. With Pure and Simple Yoga, YOU choose your level, and Eoin guides you along the way. (There's even a split screen option that lets you see your option for each pose as you practice. ) If you still need more guidance, check out the DVD's "Deeper Knowledge" section where Eoin breaks down individual poses, shows their benefits, and how to adapt them for different body types.

There's a fun, beachy, surfer vibe to this DVD that makes it both soothing and energizing--and I love the ocean breath track in the background that reminds you to breathe as you practice. Eoin's instructions are clear, simple, and to the point, and his practice is beautiful and inspiring to watch. I would recommend Pure and Simple Yoga to beginners, surfer types, guys who need to see a more masculine side of yoga--or anyone who loves the beach. In fact, it has inspired me to take my mat along for my next beach trip!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bag Schwag: How to Shop Like a Yogi

Being a Spoiled Yogi has its perks, and one of my favorites has to be my collection of reusable shopping bags—you know, the kind you get when you buy yoga clothes? Yoga clothing companies are often committed to being environmentally friendly, and they want their customers to make the commitment, too. And so they provide their customers with environmentally-friendly, reusable shopping bags in hopes that they'll carry them to the grocery store, take them to the beach, or haul the recyclables (and maybe remind others of their brand while they're at it).

Here are my all-time favorite reusable, eco-friendly, yoga fashion-marketing shopping bags:

Best Grocery Shopping Bag: MeSheeky
This bag even looks kind of like the white, plastic bags you get at the grocery stores! But it's bigger, softer, and way cooler! Plus, it fits comfortably over your shoulder. It's way more practical than any other bag I've received from a yoga retailer (and, trust me, I have a large collection)!

Best Beach Bag: Zobha
Whenever I'm heading off for a day at the beach, I grab my mesh Zobha bag. It's the perfect size for beach towels, a few magazines, and Penny's treats and water bowl. Plus, when I get sand in it, all I have to do is give it a few shakes and it's ready for my next adventure!


Best Lunch Bag: Lululemon
There's a reason you see everybody and her sister carrying these petite bags around on busy, city streets. The inspirational Lululemon bag is just big enough for your lunch—and it even reminds you to floss your teeth.

Do you use those reusable bags retailers give you? Which one is your favorite?