Friday, October 29, 2010

Luon the Musical!

Our friends at Lululemon created a musical touting their stretchy fabric, luon.

luon. the musical from Andrew Michael Dolgin on Vimeo.


I'm conflicted on this one. What do you think? Is it funny? Hip? Weird? Cheesy? Or are they trying just a little too hard?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Watch Me Do Yoga

For me, yoga has always been about monkeying around! I just get on my mat, and I play. I think: Can I make this shape? Yes, but not without falling over. Can I stand up if I do this? Nice try! Not today.  I approach my asana practice as an experiment--a game even--and I usually can delight in the outcome. Yes, I know that mindfulness, meditation, philosophy, history, therapeutics, tradition, and so much more is important, too.. but if I'm really being honest with myself, I like to practice the physical yoga because I think it's fun.

It's a childlike approach, and that's what I love about it! (And if you don't like it, just remember: I'm rubber and you're glue. And also, Na-na-na-booboo! So there!)

Children are amazing teachers. They look at the world with awe, and see limitless possibilities everywhere. Personally, that's the attitude I strive for when I get on my mat. I'm working toward finding that attitude in the rest of my life, too.


A couple of weeks ago, I got a children's book that reminded me of all of these things. Watch Me Do Yoga (2010, Rodmell Press) is a darling book illustrated and written by Iyengar teacher Bobby Clennell that beautifully captures the child-like spirit of exploration and joy that practicing yoga can elicit. Children will love it because of the cute illustrations and the many invitations to mimic animals and nature. Parents will love it because it provides a fun and creative way to spend quality time with their children. I loved it because it reminded me to appreciate the little, simple things--something that kids do so naturally.

What's your favorite children's book?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview with Kino MacGregor


Kino Macgregor is one of those teachers that I just watch in awe. She has the amazing ability to make the most incredibly difficult postures look like a piece of cake! And what's even more amazing, she can describe them in a way that they're accessible to people like me--you know, the people whose eyes bug out of their heads when they see a pose that looks impossible? She was the youngest woman to recieve certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Tradition and philosophy are a big part of her teachings. I am a huge fan her teaching style, but I LOVE her authenticity, commitment to being herself, and, of course, her bright and bold fashion sense!

Tell me about your favorite yoga outfit. Why do you love it? How does it make you feel?

I love wearing shorts because it makes me feel like I am getting stronger every time I slip and slide down my arms in challenging arm balances. I also love to feel my legs--and wearing shorts helps me get in touch with my body. Actually I love shorts so much so that I'm thinking about creating a line of yoga shorts! 

I ran across an interview with you where you describe that you once shaved your head because you thought it helped to embody yoga, but later you realized that wasn't who you are. How has yoga helped to you become comfortable with who you are? And what has your practice taught you about beauty?

Beauty is an expression of inner peace and whatever accoutrements worn on the outside will reflect the level of peace within. Beauty to me is the true shining of the human spirit, a brilliant illumination of love

What advice do you have for other people who are trying to find who they are through yoga?

Keep practicing! Even when it gets difficult and you feel doubt and confusion. Have faith that your inner light is brilliant and illuminated with the flame of eternal love. Find a teacher who inspires you and who lives the life you aspire to live. Believe in yourself even in your darkest moments, love yourself even the parts you think are unlovable, and be gentle with yourself even when you feel you don't deserve it.

You have an amazing yoga practice! How long do you practice each day? What drives you to keep practicing?

I practice between one to two hours of asana practice about six days a week. I also do a twenty minute Pranayama practice, a thirty minute meditation practice, and a fifteen minute chanting practice as often as I can. For me the key to maintaining regular practice is a sincere devotion to the spiritual journey of yoga. I practice and teach because every time I get on my mat I feel that I continue the life work of my teacher, the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He inspired me to devote my life to yoga, to delve deeply within myself and discover the inner light hidden within a world of doubt and confusion. When I practice and teach I pay homage to him, and it humbles me to think that I may continue what he steadfastly dedicated his entire to teaching. 

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grow up? Why?

I wanted to be a Supreme Court Justice because I wanted to be a force of justice and social change in the world.

Tell us what inspires you so we can be inspired, too! 

What inspires me? Taking the authentic, healing power of yoga to as many people as possible!

Fun Facts
Favorite Pose? Well, that changes based on the day. Right now I’m loving Shayanasana because this elbow balance is something I thought would never happen and it’s feeling better every day.
Favorite Color? I love them all, but especially bright vibrant colors.
Favorite Book? Too many to choose from because I love to read! I could really give you small library that catalogs my brain, but I'll chose a few that are dear to me.
Fiction – Cloud Atlas was the best book I've read recently, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami is an all-time favorite, The Feast of Love by John Baxter is great too.  Gilead ny Maryline Robinson is beautiful, too. 
Non-fiction – A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield, Peace Love and Healing by Bernie Seigal, Only Love is Real by Dr. Brian Weiss, The Yoga Sutras by Edwin Bryant, When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron, Zen Mind Beginner's Mind by Suzuki Roshi, Ask and It Is Given by Esther & Jerry Hicks
Favorite Movie? Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Slumdog Millionaire
Favorite Vacation Spot? Bali, the Gili Islands or anywhere tropical and Caribbean!

Read more about Kino at her website, kinoyoga.com.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Activities That Aren't Yoga, But Sort of Are

Every fall, I go through a phase of winding down and preparing for winter. I begin to incorporate more forward bends into my home yoga practice and take longer Savasanas. But that's just the beginning of it. I find myself naturally gravitating toward the cozier and warmer things in life. And each year, I draw parallels between these things and yoga. There's something about being all warm and cozy that just makes me savor the moment a little more. So even though these things are not exactly yoga, I still feel as though I'm practicing.


1. Making and Eating Soup
Image: FrumpyFoodie.com


2. Baking



3. Knitting


4. Reading a Good Book


5. Jumping in a Big Pile of Leaves! OK, I haven't actually done this one since I was little, but I do enjoy feeling leaves crunch under my feet when I walk... and I remember jumping in a big pile of leaves when I was little. Does that count?
Image: PamperedPuppy.com
What do you do that's not yoga, but reminds you to be present, have fun, and enjoy life just the same?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's So Scary About Yoga?

It's almost Halloweener ... the scariest holiday of all! Mwahahahahaha! 'Tis the season to eat too much candy, carve pumpkins, watch scary movies, and dress your pets up in embarrassing costumes for your amusement (even though they look really melancholy about it).

 What?! I think they are the cutest pumpkins in the whole world!

Anyhoo.. Because I'm feeling festive, I wanted to address the fact that many people are still scared of YOGA! Get ready... I'm going to tell you some SCARY stuff about yoga!

1. Yogis Go To Hell. Recently, some Baptist minister said Christians shouldn't do yoga because, well, he says it best: "Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality." I'm not going to get into the debate here, but I will say that personally, I think the food they serve in those church pot lucks dinners is a WHOLE lot scarier than breathing and stretching. Except for maybe that banana pudding with the vanilla wafers in it...That's good stuff.

2. It Will Turn You Into a Girly Man. I've loved all the recent posts on MindBodyGreen.com about men and yoga. It's a big push to get men more involved in the practice and show them that there's nothing to be afraid of.  But the reality is, a lot of men are scared of yoga. They think they'll look like wimps who wear Speedos, become vegetarians, and have to stop drinking beer. Silly boys!

3. You Will Fall on Your Face. Actually, there's a pretty good chance this one will happen. I'd say that no one else in class will notice or that if they do they would never laugh at you, but the truth is.. I laugh every time I see somebody fall in yoga class. I can't help it. It's funny. But once you've been to a few yoga classes you'll realize it's not a big deal. It's kind of really fun be challenged and then laugh at yourself when you fall on your face.

Yes, yoga is hard core. For some people, it's down right terrifying--like bungee jumping or Freddy Krueger movies. So, here's my suggestion. If you're scared of yoga, don't celebrate Halloween with your usual trip to a haunted house or pumpkin patch...  get to a studio instead. I promise it will be a rush! Just remember that when you start practicing at home, your pets will try to sabotage you by running under your feet during balancing poses. Consider it your pay back for dressing them like a pumpkin and posting their pictures on the Internet. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cultivating Confidence

Image from iyogalife.com
Confidence is on my mind a lot these days because I'm realizing that it makes all the difference in how people perceive you. A confident yoga teacher emits a completely different energy into a class of students than a teacher who isn't sure of herself. Confidence in a job interview can sometimes make up for a lacking in your skill set. And confidence at a dinner party can be the difference between being the life of the party and making others feel uncomfortable and awkward.

One of my favorite yoga workshops I've ever taken was with Iyengar teacher Patricia Walden a few years ago. It was all about poses that help build self confidence -- something I could certainly stand to have more of lately!

She explained that when she started practicing yoga she was shy and introverted, but practicing certain poses gave her the confidence she needed to come out of her shell. (You can see some of the poses here, but the story is so short, it doesn't really do the workshop justice! Plus, I KNOW there was a Handstand and Crow in there somewhere.) Obviously, it worked for her because now she's one of the most respected teachers in the United States, and she speaks in front of thousands (maybe even millions) of people a year. She doesn't even seem nervous.

I can relate to her story because I've noticed that the more I practice, the more confident I feel in my abilities, too. I think this is why I'm such an arm balancing fool! I'm the girl who used to have such lacking upper body strength it was a struggle to overhand serve a volleyball in high school. But now I can balance all of my body weight. And I don't even fall on my face... usually!

This practice is both uplifting and humbling at the same time. One minute you're rocking a pose, feeling like you could fly. The next second your balance shifts, and you crash into the floor. In a split second you come back to earth--and back to reality. It's like the practice was designed to show you your strengths, but remind you that you're human and make mistakes, too. It's a balance--a dance--that builds a cool confidence, but with humility and the understanding that we all make mistakes. Without the mistakes, there would be no success. It's a valuable lesson I've taken with me off the mat and into my life.

Have you noticed your confidence increase since you began your yoga practice? Which poses make you feel like you can conquer the world?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Yogi's Guide to Twitter

My relationship with Twitter has been rocky at times. When I first flirted with it, I was quickly turned off by it's incessant chatter. I stopped tweeting, asserting that I could do everything I do on Twitter on Facebook. I re-evaluated my stance when I started this blog. I met lots of new friends that share my interests, and now it's the first place I go when I need input, support, or a good laugh. I get fashion advice, ideas for teaching yoga, and even find sources for stories!

But I realize there are many of you out there who still just don't get the point. Twitter is an amazing resources for yoga students. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

1. Yoga Resource. In a story I wrote recently for Yoga Journal magazine (check out the Media section of the November issue) about online yoga videos, I chatted with the lovely Cora Wen (@CoraYoga). She told me a story about how she posted that she was practicing Scorpion pose on Twitter. When she got a few responses from her Twitter followers asking questions about it, she decided to make a video and posted it on YouTube to answer their questions. I'm not saying this is typical, but if you take the time to grow your Twitter following with people who love yoga (and love sharing yoga), you will get some feedback and answers to your yoga questions. 

2. Blog Teasers. It is nearly impossible for me to read all the quality blogs out there that I'd like to read. If you start by following websites and bloggers that you enjoy, you can get updates every time there's a new blog post. I follow so much interesting stuff, I tend to only read the blogs that hook me in 140 characters!

3. Get Recommendations. There are a few Twitterers who I trust so much, that when they suggest I read an article or check out a video I do it--right away! I know they've only pointed me to interesting, informational articles before so why would this time be any different? It invaluable, and it saves me a LOT of time wading through uninteresting things on the Internet.

4.  Get Reminders. I often log into my Twitter page for a break and see something like, "Take a yoga break!" "Remember, you are perfect just the way you are." or "Don't forget to breathe." I don't know about you, but I need all the reminders to relax and be mindful that I can get! My Twitter friends give me that.

5. Connect Locally and Globally. When I found out I was moving across the country, I posted it to Twitter. Within a few hours I had recommendations for yoga studios, places to live, and great restaurants from a yogi I had connected with who used to live in the city I planned to move to. Score! I've had this experience traveling, too. It's a great feeling to know that you have friends everywhere. I've meet Twitter connections in New York, Colorado, and South Carolina! Of course, you have to be careful meeting people from online in person (don't get out too much personal info, meet in a public place, all that stuff), but my experiences have been all positive so far!

How to Start? Follow your favorite websites, blogs, and yoga studios first! See who pops up in their feeds for more people to follow. Then, post interesting things that relate to the community you're trying to build (yoga, perhaps?). Respond to other Twitterers' tweets (just type @username before your response) and re-tweet the good stuff (like this: "RT @username" before their tweet).

Make sure you share the love on Fridays with the #FF hashtag (that stands for Follow Fridays) and it lets everyone know who's tweets you've been enjoying that week!

Twitter is all about sharing.. so try to give as much feedback as you can! As my mom would say: "You have to be a friend to make a friend!"

Oh, and don't forget to follow me! I'd love to connect with you!

Twitter code for Namanste: _/||\_

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Panty Solution: There IS a Better Way!

This is not my bum.

A while back I blogged about my biggest problem with yoga clothing. The same thing that makes yoga pant flattering--the slimming, elongating, curve-hugging fit--also makes it nearly impossible to mask  panty lines. If you're like me, and a thong feels like a permanent wedgie, there aren't many options. Either you wear your VPL (visible panty line) with pride or you hope no one is looking.

I promised to search high and low, try different brands and styles, and report back with my findings. I'm happy to report that there IS indeed a better way.

Ladies, allow me to introduce you to my new best friend: The Zobha Boyshort Panty.

The whisper-thin, seamless material is invisible under most yoga pants. The fabric is also moisture wicking so you can wear them to a hot, sweaty yoga class and still be cool and comfy where it really matters. And, let's not forget the most important part—no wedgies, thank you very much! I've been wearing these bad boys to yoga class for a few weeks now, and I'm thrilled with the performance, and I'm relieved I've solved my biggest fashion problem!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yoga 101: How to Be Present

Lesson One: Be mindful when you wash the dishes.
My first yoga class ever was when I was a college sophomore. I had enrolled, not because I was curious about yoga, but because I had to fulfill a PE requirement and I thought stretching would be a lot less strenuous than say, power aerobics. I was filled with angst and rebellion, so I greeted every lesson with skepticism. My life changed in that semester because my teacher taught us to turn off our brains and live in the present moment.

Below, I'll share those teachings with you..

1. Be Silly. My first yoga class ever went like this. I was sitting on the floor with a group of maybe 50 other college students. My teacher pranced in gypsy-like with flowing pants and long red hair, turned on some worldly music, and instructed us to get up and move. I didn't sign up for this, I thought, but being the good student that I was, I did as she asked. I surprised myself by feeling so incredibly awkward and self-conscious I didn't know what to do with myself. I bobbed my head. We were then instructed to hold hands (I hated touching strangers) and dance in a circle. Mortifying. But something magical happened in the following moments. I remembered what fun it could be to let loose and act silly. When my teacher sat us down to explain what yoga was, I realized I had been in the present moment for the first time in years.

2. Taste It! One evening my lovely teacher told us a story about a monkey... I think... I don't remember the story, but I vividly remember what happened next. She put down a napkin and took out a big container of Sun Maid Raisins and dumped them out on the napkin. "Take one, but don't eat it yet! Just hold it in your hands." I felt the little wrinkles between my fingers. At my teacher's urging, I held it up to my nose to smell it. "Now, mindfully, put it in your mouth. Roll it around on your tongue. Don't chew!" It felt a little waxy. After a few seconds, we got the go-ahead to chew. But were told to do it slowly, with purpose. The flavor exploded in my mouth. Everything enjoyable moment was magnified because I was present.

3. Feel It! If I close my eyes, and really pay attention to what I'm doing something as simple as a sink full of soapy dish water can zap me straight into the present moment. This almost immediately turns something mundane into a pleasant and happy moment right up there with a bubble bath or feeling the sun on your skin after a long, cold winter. "Think back to your first kiss," said my first yoga teacher, "and bring that feeling of awareness into your yoga poses." 

4. Be It. My first experience with meditation happened when I had no idea what meditating even was. Therefore, I had no expectations to quiet my mind or sit up straight. I walked into the yoga room on a cold winter evening to find my yoga teacher sitting at the front of the room with her eyes closed. "What a weirdo," I thought to myself. But I sat down and mimicked her posture. I closed my eyes, became aware of my breath, and went into a trance. It was the coolest thing I'd ever experienced.

5. Absorb It. I think the reason my first yoga experience was so successful is because my teacher didn't push us to do anything we didn't feel comfortable with. "Yoga isn't about doing. It's about being." So if we didn't feel like "doing," we were more than welcome to come into the room, pile up a few blankets, close our eyes, and rest. I was sold on the idea of yoga when one day, the lights were dimmed, and we took Savasana together. As I laid there in the dark, my eyes unexpectedly welled up with tears. Before I could do anything about it, they were streaming down my face into a puddle on the floor. Thank goodness the lights are dim so no one can see this!, I thought, when it occurred to me that I wasn't even sad! Something profound had happened to me that I didn't quite understand, and I knew this yoga thing was LOT more powerful that some simple stretches.

108 Sun Salutions!

On Saturday, I put down my mat in the park with at least 150 other dedicated yogis and I saluted the sun... 108 times! Thanks to all of YOUR generous donations, I was able to raise $300 for two organizations that are doing great things for kids in the community.

My body is STILL a little sore (and it's been 3 days!), but my spirit is soaring.

Here are a few pictures from the day.
Before

Sun Salute 1

Yogis Everywhere!
Have you ever done 108 Sun Salutations for a cause? I want to hear about it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Leaps and Bounds

Image: AshtangaNews.com
There's a fine line between a leap of faith and a stupidly blind jump. I've been doing a lot of leaping and jumping lately, and I'm not sure whether I'm doing it out of faith or stupidity. I know Hanuman, the Monkey God, is known for his giant leap of faith. So I decided to do a little reading about Hanuman to find out if I'm in his good company... or just taking stupid risks.

Hanuman took his great leap to save Rama's brother, Laksmana, who was wounded in battle. Hanuman took on the impossible task of leaping to another continent (the Himalayas) to get an herb to save him. When he got there, he didn't know which herb to collect so he picked up the whole damn mountain and brought it back with him. It might have been a little clumsy, but it worked! It was a selfless expression of his devotion and love for Rama.

We each take little leaps every day--making little sacrifices for the ones we love the most and for a whole host of other reasons. We do the best we can. Sometimes we're so strong we can carry a whole mountain across the ocean ... other times we fall flat on our faces and the mountain clobbers us before we even really get going. The real act of faith is getting up and trying again.