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September 22nd, 2014

#Thisismyyoga – A Look At Week 1

It’s time to talk – and the conversation has begun. All week you’ve been sharing what YOUR yoga really means. You cracked the surface, dug in, reflected and connected to something amazing.

This is what happens when we peel back the layers and put our practice into practice. Thousands of us came together to bring #ThisIsMyYoga to life. When we break through the noise that distracts us from what really matters, on and off the mat, this is what it looks like…


Marissa, @learningtobalance

“This is where I come to clear the chaos in my mind. This is where I find my patience as a mother when it just isn't coming naturally. This is where I come to laugh at myself, honor my body, lay down emotion, and shed my tears. It is here that I accept the things I cannot change. This is where I have learned and continue to learn to speak less, listen more, and consider other viewpoints. This is where I learn to breathe. This is where I find my strength AND my weaknesses, and try to find balance between them. This is where I have learned to look at myself in the mirror and feel happiness. This is the coal to my fire. I am a trailblazer in the heavy brush that is life. This may not be a traditional path, or practice, but it is my own. Therefore, this is perfect. This is my yoga.”


Melanie, @melzors

“For me, yoga isn't just a way to see what the body is physically capable of doing on the mat. It's also about taking what I've learned mentally through practice and applying it to everyday life. The heart feels more full yet open, the mind is more aware and accepting and the feelings of gratitude and love are constantly overflowing both to and from others.”


DJ Townsel (from the NFL!), @dade2shelby

"Yoga is a way to tap into a spiritual, physical, and mental deposit that I didn't think was accessible when playing football or weightlifting. Yoga allows me to unify my mind, body, and soul. Mentally focusing on becoming a better person, physically focusing on becoming a moving work of art, and spiritually focusing on becoming a contagious inspirational force of energy that can positively impact the lives of others. A feat that I just knew wasn't possible 2 years ago, I have proven myself and others wrong by breaking the so-called "limitations" of what a man with my background, race, and physical stature is capable of. Yes, a black man from the hood that plays football and lifts weights daily is capable of being a force of spiritual energy that can twist and bend his body with the best of them. It is possible for me, and YES, IT IS POSSIBLE FOR YOU! Just believe in yourself. The body achieves what the mind believes!!!!"


Dee, @deedoby

“Love isn't something you do, it is something you are. Because love is a way of being. It is a way of showing up in each and every moment of your life, present and grateful for being apart of something much bigger than yourself. When you are love, you attract love.”


Nicole, @nsteward_yoga

"I was trying to think of a fancy inversion pose to post, but when I really think about what yoga means to me, it's not a fancy asana. I came to yoga as a way of quieting the vicarious trauma of my work as a social worker & rape crisis counselor. Being on the mat and focusing on my breath allowed my body & brain to heal. The more I moved physically on my mat, the more I learned about myself and how we can transform trauma into energy for the fight against injustice and oppression. This led me to yoga teacher training which has led me back, full circle, to trauma work. Yoga is healing. Yoga is empowerment. Yoga is a radical way of making us whole again; quieting the outside world so we can dive inward, making space for us to connect with our true selves and our community. While I love me a fancy inversion pose, my yoga spans beyond the mat, into the real world to help heal others."


Jesse Roberts @jesseroberts108

“Did you know about 40% of our Navajo Indians on the reservation live without tap or toilet in their homes? The water they do have easy access to is loaded with Uranium. You don't just ignore things to make them go away, you help make people's lives better. I am helping bring easy access to clean water to our Native American Indians. #thisismyyoga @mandukayoga @digdeepwater”


Jessica Biel, @jessicabiel

“To me Yoga means finding balance between taking yourself seriously and not seriously at all!”


Judy Greer, @missjudygreer

“#thisismyyoga hanging with this beast makes me so calm, happy and relaxed. Even when he farts.”


Christy Turlington, @cturlington

“I love asanas & mudras like the ones in this photo by #irvingpenn for #Vogue but to me yoga is about so much more than the physical. Yoga is union with all things, Self, All Other Beings and Nature.”


Laura Sykora @laurasykora

"At first yoga was strictly a physical practice or "way to exercise" for me... Also, I'd be lying if I didn't say, it was a way to learn some really cool stuff. As I've moved forward in my yoga practice off the mat, it has also given me strength and confidence that I never knew existed within me. I've developed FAITH in myself where there once was not a lot. Yoga has taken me out of my comfort zone and has molded me into the person I am today... A better person, wife, mother, friend, teacher... It has taught me to let go of a lot of bull that I've held onto over these years. It has taught me to BE ME... And to BE ME PROUDLY! Yoga makes me feel like a super hero everyday... One who can tackle anything in life and come out on top with a smile. #ThisIsMYYoga"


Jessica Glines, @jessicaglinesyoga

"25 years ago today, my sister passed away in an auto-bike accident. The following spring, the middle school we attended planted this tree in her honor. Thanks to a daily yoga and meditation practice this past year, I re-opened parts of my heart that had been closed since that day. I uncovered anger, sadness and grief that had been hidden in those dark corners of my heart. I realized that I had spent most of my life living in a state of fear. It hurt like hell to open my heart and I've felt the physical pain of scar tissue receiving breaths fresh air. I've shed more tears on my mat than I can count. Clearing out those cobwebs made space... I have felt more love and joy than I can remember. I am grateful. For healing. For love. For joy. For my heart. My dear friends, be grateful for your heart. Honor every single emotion you feel. Each one has its purpose."


Rocky Heron, @yogawithrocky

“#thisismyyoga: THE WILLINGNESS TO MAKE THAT WHICH SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE, POSSIBLE... AND HELP OTHERS TO DO THE SAME. This dear woman attended my presentation at the a Mega Event in Japan and seemed in complete disbelief of her ability to practice handstand when I presented the possibility. I came down into the crowd to show her it was possible, and the joy she experienced and the celebration that ensued amongst her community of fellow participants was incredible to witness. This truly is my yoga. I have also dreamed of traveling the world for some time now and finding ways to share and connect with cultures outside of my own, but this too has seemed somewhat impossible without knowing just where to begin and even if I was capable. This year has shown me that this dream is a possibility and that I do have what it takes to be of value to people around the world, and that despite language and cultural differences, the gift of yoga is one that can impact and benefit everyone.”


Bogie T. Bulldog @bogiethebulldog

“@ninitta walked in on me mid #downdog and was like, ‘what are you doing?’ And I was like, ‘dude, Mom, #thisismyyoga.’”


Camacha, @camacha_rees

"#thisismyyoga …When I arrived in Saratoga, the first thing that I did was walk into a yoga studio and it quickly became my temple. I started to breathe my way through my constant anxiety; I started to strengthen parts of my body that had become weak over the years; repair my organs. I started to clear the constant chatter in my head and I started to feel like a whole person again. The practice, the philosophy, and the gift of yoga slowly started to take over my life as I started to replace all my bad habits and negative thinking patterns with new, healthy ones. I started to enjoy taking care of myself and my relationships with others strengthened."


Michelle, @_nahaga_

"Yoga is healing. Through difficult situations I have been able to maintain balance around the center of the emotional spectrum instead of dropping into the extremes because of yoga. By incorporating the practice into my life through asana, breath work, meditation and the idea that yogic principles can be weaved into all aspects of my life, on and off the mat, my head, heart and soul have healed. With asana I find stability, strength and grace that I do not find elsewhere in my life. With pranayama and meditation I find balance, energy and peace that I can incorporate into all aspects of my life. In taking my practice off the mat I find connectedness, love, patience and compassion that have changed me in ways that I never imagined. #thisismyyoga @mandukayoga Thank you, Heidi, for asking me to participate @heidiyogi. Kellie, please share your yoga @doodledog."


Elizabeth, @twingirlsyoga

"#thisismyyoga"


Lauren, @blueyedyogi

"#thisismyyoga – a fun way to work out. "

(and IN, we always say!)

Mchelle, we were so moved by your story that we’d love to gift you with a suite of Manduka gear, as well as send gifts over to Heidi, who tagged you and Kellie, who you tagged next.

Join us! Share your real yoga on Instagram or Twitter with tag #ThisIsMyYoga. Show your community what your practice is really about, and tag one other person to share theirs and keep it going. Let’s open our awareness together and dust off those values we may have forgotten beneath all the tangible and intangible Stuff.

As a thank you for taking this conversation forward, we’ll continue to select one yogi every week to receive a suite of Manduka gear from the new Fall Collection, plus gifts for the yogi who tagged them and the yogi they tagged next. Read more about #thisismyyoga on our last blog.

You can follow the #ThisIsMyYoga thread on our Instagram. Feel free to tag us at @mandukayoga when you share – we’re looking forward to joining you for another week of reflection. Let’s get back to the root, together.

With love,
Manduka

September 14th, 2014

It’S Time To Talk. #Thisismyyoga

It’s time to talk.

Something has been brewing inside many of us for a while. We know you feel it, and so do we. Consider this: if an alien visited Earth to report back on what yoga is, what would they say?

That it’s moving your body around on a rubbery rectangle until you get sweaty? Or balancing on your forearms with your legs behind your head, going to sleep, rolling over and wiggling your toes? Maybe yoga is a heated discussion about stretchy pants and selfies and green juice.

Is this really what we want to stand for as a global yoga community or is this all we want the world to think yoga is?

It’s time to reflect and connect. What is your yoga? Is it peace under pressure or gratitude over grievances? Is it watching your baby grow up or choosing to love what you see in the mirror? Let’s talk about what yoga is – to all of us.

Share your real yoga on Instagram or Twitter with tag #ThisIsMyYoga. Show your community what your practice is really about, and tag one other person to share theirs and keep it going. Let’s see what it looks like when we stretch into our hearts more than our hamstrings.

As a thank you for taking this conversation forward, we’ll select one yogi every week to receive a suite of Manduka gear from the new Fall Collection, plus gifts for the yogi who tagged them and the yogi they tagged next. All of the season’s new gear is inspired by this very desire to reflect & connect as a global yoga community. The metallic mats that reflect light, the performance towels that grip to what matters, the bags that carry our practice into the world. They all came from this idea of putting our practice into practice.

You can follow the #ThisIsMyYoga thread with Manduka Ambassadors on our Instagram. Feel free to tag us at @mandukayoga when you share – we’re excited to witness what happens next.

December 31st, 2013

What Is Your 2014 “Matifesto”?

Hello to 2014 and 365 wide open, brand new possibilities – a fresh start we can make into whatever we want. We’re setting a New Year’s intention to help us put old lessons into new action, and there is no better place to let an intention come to life than on your yoga mat.

So today we ask you to make a matifesto for 2014 – the declaration you can take to your mat and let guide you through the year. What do you want to manifest in your life? To trust more? Find courage? Be a present parent? We want to support you. So declare it right now. Write it down in permanent ink. Then say it out loud every day. Because this is the year to take your mission into your practice and off the mat. It’s time for all of us to Live what MATters.

All this month, we’re collecting your matifestos here, or on Twitter or Instagram with tag #matifesto. Tell us in a few words or in a photo, and your Manduka is right here to support you.

50 yogis who share their matifesto will receive a hand towel from the new yogitoes We Are One collection that’s launching next week! With your permission, we might also publish your story at Manduka.com, on Facebook or through our media partners.

So get those matifestos flowing, you’ve got yourself (and potentially millions of people) to inspire. We’re here if you have any questions.

Happy New Year,
Manduka

December 26th, 2013

Family

By Manduka Ambassador, Dana Damara

I love the holidays … I love decorating the tree, baking cookies with my daughters, pulling out holiday lights, lighting candles, the smell of pine cones and evergreen, pumpkin pie spice and the quietness at the end of the day that ends so early.

When I was a kid I loved baking with my mother, making decorations with my grandmother, eating homemade everything and running around the house with my cousins. I grew up around the corner from my “Auntie” and about six blocks from my grandmother. The holidays started the weekend before Thanksgiving and didn’t end until after the last football game was over on New Year’s Day.

I think that the holidays were the best part of my childhood. I was raised Catholic Italian in a family that was loud and boisterous. My grandmother’s home always smelled like spaghetti sauce and garlic, and when the holidays began it was a flurry of connecting, cooking and chaos. Actually it was always like that, holidays or not.

In the basement, my grandfather encased sausage and boiled live crab. Upstairs in the kitchen, my grandmother rolled out her homemade pasta, had her sauce going on the stove, basted the turkey in the oven, tended to the ham in the garage and us kids had to set the table and chop vegetables. My mother and my aunts talked and laughed a lot!

I can remember music playing, grown ups dancing, food and lots of wine. My grandmother sipped from the same glass of wine all day that had melting ice cubes in it. She had a house-coat for every meal, Jesus and Mary medallions around her neck, a Kleenex in her bra and her glasses on top of her head.

My family danced together, we laughed together, we teased each other, we fought loudly and we loved fiercely. We didn’t need the holidays to have a great time, the holidays just amplified everything.

There were several of us “little ones” who played pool, jumped on the beds, ran around outside without a coat, and played board games in the quiet of someone’s bedroom until we all fell asleep, usually on top of each other in one big bed.

A lot has happened since those days and times have changed. However, every holiday season comes and I feel the love from that time fill my heart. I can smell my grandmother’s homemade sauce, hear her voice singing in Italian while she worked in the kitchen.

I don’t “do” the holidays like my grandmother did; I wouldn’t even try! She was amazing! And unfortunately, I don’t have the opportunity to see my family over the holidays either. But the love I experienced during that time in my life fills me with such joy and gratitude.

Families move, they break up, they break down, they shift and they change. For many years I lived by the credo that “Your family can be one of blood or choice – either way, you have family.” I did this because when my family broke down I rebelled, I moved away, I made my own “family” and I did this to survive the pain I felt when all of that “connection, cooking and chaos” ended.

Now, some twenty odd years later, several thousands of hours on my mat, and at least hundreds of hours in church, I hold my family in my heart… my blood family. The ones that brought me into this world, that can trigger me and that love me unconditionally, even if I didn’t know that for years.

This year, give thanks for your family – the one that holds the reflection of who you were, who you are and maybe even a nugget of who you are becoming. There is nothing like family, nothing. When we deny our family we are denying our greatest gift. You needn’t see them, hang out with them, spend holidays with them – you can just love them.

December 17th, 2013

The Gift You Give Yourself

By Patti Cocciolo

The holidays are officially here – Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are just behind us, and Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner.

It’s easy for your yoga practice to lapse this time of year – it’s hard to find time to unroll your mat with so much going on. If you practice in the morning, a warm cozy bed can be hard to leave. If evening practice is your thing, holiday parties, shopping or increased workload often take priority. And if you travel at all over the holidays, all bets are off.

But here’s the thing – now is when you need your practice the most. It’s what will keep you peaceful when Aunt Bernice gives you yet another “hand crafted” macramé snowflake sweater or when your boss dumps a pile of work on you, Scrooge-style, on Christmas Eve. But if you can’t get to class, and a full home practice seems daunting, what’s a yogi to do?

Here’s a suggestion: choose something simple, whenever and wherever you need it. It might not be your whole practice, but it will connect you to your regular practice in a way that can be really powerful. Here are just a few examples to get you through the holidays, and tide you over until everything calms down a bit:

1. Sama Vritti Pranayama: This practice of even breathing (literally translated as “same breathing”) is a great starting point to find balance. The theory being, that if you can find evenness and balance in the breath, the mind will follow. And it’s super simple. In a seated position (at your desk or on a plane, train or automobile) or even standing (in line at the grocery store, or waiting for that plane, train or automobile…), find a long torso and spine. Now, breathe in for a count of five; breathe out for a count of five. Repeat. If counting is not your thing, chose a word or mantra to focus on, just make sure it’s the same on the inhale, as on the exhale. Taking just a few rounds of this breath can bring calm and clarity immediately, and you can literally do it anywhere, for any length of time.

2. Ardha Surya Namaskar: A few Half Sun Salutes can get your blood moving and get you focused again. Here’s the key: allow the breath to initiate each movement as you go through the linked poses. When we’re busy, our breath can get shallow and kind of lost – like it’s chasing after our body, trying to catch up. Give the breath a few minutes to be back in charge, and you’ll find your center again in no time. An added bonus? It takes only slightly more room than Tadasana. If your cubicle is big enough to stand in, it’s big enough for a half sun salute.

3. Prasarita Padottanasana C: In general, forward folds can relieve low back pain and calm the mind. In this version of the wide legged forward fold, the fingers are interlaced behind the back to aid in the opening of the shoulders, and the release of the head and neck. Try this after too many hours hunched over your computer, or standing behind a register at work. It’s also handy if you’ve just run past 10 gates at the airport, pushing a double stroller, with a giant toddler car seat slung over each arm. Just sayin’.

4. Apanasana and Simple Twist: When you finally hit the hay at night, even if it’s hours past your bedtime, give this one a go. Moving slowly, hug your knees into your chest, and let your knees fall to one side. Slowly bring them back up, and then let them fall to the other side. This simple action releases low back tension, aides in digestion, and it just plain ol’ feels good. It you practice Sama Vritti here too, it can ease an agitated mind and get you off to sleep a little faster.

5. Forward Fold: When it all gets to be too much, fold inward. You can pick your favorite: Paschimottanasana, seated, with your legs straight in front of you; Janu Sirsasana, seated, with one leg folded in to the midline; Uttanasana, a standing forward fold. And then there’s always sweet, delicious child’s pose. Whichever asana you choose, lead with your heart and bring your focus inside. This will keep the world at bay, even if just for a moment. Close your eyes to remove visual distractions and bring you even deeper into your center. Sama Vritti is dreamy here, too.

The most important thing to remember is that your yoga practice is exactly that: YOUR yoga practice. Find simple movements, asanas and pranayama to keep you connected to what you value most from your time on the mat. That should be enough to sustain you through the holidays and into the New Year.

Happy holidays, everyone! XO