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December 10th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Sheri

Meet Sheri.

She was used to being great at things. Running, swimming, water polo – Sheri was tough to beat. But yoga was another story. When Sheri tried it, she wasn't good at it, so she didn't like it. Funny how things change.

A bridge that many competitive athletes have to cross is how to treat their bodies after an injury. Yoga can be a beautiful tool for recovery. Sheri turned to yoga to soothe her aching joints and bruised muscles. And it did soothe her body. Then it changed her perspective about it. She went from using diet and exercise to tell her body what to do, to listening to it and giving her body what it needs for holistic balance. If her body needs to go for a run, she does, but if it’s asking for some ice cream, then she does that too.

Sheri's not "perfect," and she accepts that. But she's happy, and able to be of service and kindness to others. And that's perfect. That's Sheri-perfect.

We loved getting to know Sheri. And we’d love to get to know you, too! Tell us about yourself on our You Series page, at Manduka.com/You.

We can’t wait to meet you!

November 29th, 2012

Healthy Eating For The Holiday Season

By Manduka Ambassador Rosie Acosta

With all the holiday happenings like shopping, sending cards, planning parties and eating…one can get easily frazzled and overwhelmed. These are the moments to which overeating and overindulgence sadly takes feat. It is unfortunate that this time of year usually results in an extra pound or two. It is so easy to fall prey to all the delicious and rich holiday treats that surround us this time of year. There are many things that we can do to keep it together during this time. Below are some ways I’ve found helpful to keep it healthy during the holidays.

1. The Reality Of It All: Now is NOT the best time to try and “diet”:
That’s the truth, you know...and I know it. So instead of creating a world of anxiety for yourself just try to be conscientious about where you currently are, and where you want to be in regard to your health. Enjoy yourself; don’t fret if you decide to indulge here and there. Stay present with it all, instead of telling yourself “Ugh, I shouldn’t have eaten that…” don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead try this, “I ate it, I enjoyed it” be kind to yourself. Every moment is a new moment to try and do better next time.

2. Relieve Holiday Stress:
We all know that now is prime time for some yoga. A little stillness and a little mind silence can work wonders this time of year. If you have a regular practice or exercise regimen try to keep it up during the holidays. This is a great way to prevent any extra lbs. and perhaps work off some of that delicious pumpkin pie.

3. Don’t Focus on the Food:
Rather than focusing on the plethora of holiday treats, turn the focus on an activity. It is a great time for family, friends and community. Perhaps play a board game, make wreaths, or even a gingerbread house. These are fantastic ways to enjoy what the holidays are actually about: spending time with people who you love.

4. Overeating Quick-fix:
If you happen to overeat during a meal, go light on the next one. It takes 3,500 calories to gain a pound, and unless you ate dinner at Paula Dean’s house…one piece of pie is not going to make you gain weight. Don’t worry, but refrain from eating the entire pie.

5. Check The Menu Beforehand:
If you show up to a dinner party hungry, it is inevitable that you’re going to fill your plate to its circumferential capacity. It’s like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry, which is never a good idea. Before you begin to fill your plate, check out what is being served. Include veggies and fruits to keep your plate balanced and avoid foods that aren’t necessarily your favorite.

The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the holidays. This is one of the few times of the year when you can really enjoy all the sweet treats without feeling like you’ve fallen off the wagon. If you happen to over-indulge, be honest and loving with yourself and treat yourself with compassion . We are all entitled to live a little. Remember that a healthy lifestyle means nourishing your body and your mind with everything it needs when it needs it.

Keepin’ it Light: Organic Mexican Girl Favorite Holiday Recipe

Here is one of my favorite salads for the holidays. My Granny used to make it every year.

Ensalada De Nochebuena (Christmas Eve Salad)

*Vegan, *Gluten-Free, *Vegetarian and 100% Delicious!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons organic orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 bag of mixed green salad
1 cup of spinach
2 apples, peeled and sliced
2 oranges, peeled and segmented
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh pineapple cubes (or canned)
2 beets, cooked and cut
1/2 cup raw almonds sliced

Directions:

1. To make dressing, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, vinegar, salt, and cilantro in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Arrange the mixed greens on the bottom of a glass bowl and layer fruit and beets over it.

To learn more about Rosie , and for more delicious recipes, go to: www.organicmexicangirl.com

November 26th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Bobbie

Meet Bobbie.

Yoga was her 50th birthday present to herself. And it's been an amazing gift. Even after that very first yoga class, she knew her world was going to feel different.

Her practice is "the best thing ever," having eased her joints, given her infinite encouragement and a tranquil home anywhere she chooses – especially the yoga studio. While rock climbing will always be her "first love," yoga is her partner, helping her climb more than mountains. Recently, she climbed the wall, kicking up into her first headstand with the help of her teacher – she couldn’t stop smiling knowing that yoga had both literally and figuratively turned her world around.

“Yoga has been a huge help with my whole life. I love the energy I have after a good hard class. I love the serenity that comes a little later and how all my joints feel fresh and ready to take on the world. I spent some time away from the mat. The day I went back to class I couldn't believe the relief I felt. While I was just resting in easy posture I started crying and didn't stop until half way through. Life is good with an active yoga practice.”

We loved learning about what yoga means to Bobbie. And we’d love to learn what it means for you! Tell us your story at Manduka.com/You.

November 22nd, 2012

Grace And Gratitude

By Manduka Ambassador Dana Damara

The words grace and gratitude get used so often; I often wonder if people really know what it means. To feel gratitude for your family, your friends, your job, your home, your financial success, your material possessions, your health…all those things is really easy.

But what about feeling gratitude for the things in your life that aren’t so frilly? Like your computer breaking down? At the same time that your girlfriend decides to leave you. Or how about when you lose something that is important to you like say, your favorite Manduka mat? What about your job ending? You get into a car wreck. You file for bankruptcy. How about feeling gratitude for those individuals who talk behind your back or worse, seemingly get under your skin every, single time you see them.

Can you find gratitude in those situations?

Because honestly, that’s the yoga we speak of when we talk about embodiment. It’s not about the perfect posture…it’s about embodying that grace and gratitude in times of adversity.

Life is not a sedentary event that we can plan out or remain rigid to while navigating through it. It is always changing, ever expanding and infinitely growing. And although we do create our lives in conjunction with our thoughts, we must also allow for Universal order to do its thing. It’s co-creating... all the time.

And when we stumble, or when life seemingly pushes us into our shit, grace reminds us that it’s pushing us there for a reason. And if the s@#t stinks, most likely that means that the reason is beyond our knowledge or understanding. Grace holds space for gratitude beyond our understanding. We breathe it in and allow it to just BE what it IS in THAT moment.

As we trod through those difficult times, we can do so kicking and screaming, slinging shit and mud, blaming others and playing the victim role or we can feel gratitude and allow grace to step up and bring it all in. When we truly embody grace and gratitude it’s like the Red Sea parts… that breath makes way for clarity, vision and an acceptance of what is… truly what is. Not what WE THINK it should be.

The next time you find yourself facing adversity, breathe it in. What can you learn right then? Where is the light? That one breath in time will bring grace rushing to you.

November 15th, 2012

What Brings You To The Mat..

By Manduka Ambassador Jessica Lesley

After a recent "yoga rebellion", where my frustration with the extreme focus on asana kept me out of classes for a few months, I developed a renewed commitment to the other seven limbs of the practice.

This rebellion came at a time where I was seeing blog posts and articles detailing the potential injuries involved with asana, and reading the comments from angry yoga practitioners - and teachers. Most of the postures in question were inversions and arm balances, the ones that make for awesome photo shoots, "oooh and ahhh" worthy magazine covers, and a boat load of "likes" on instagram. While I do not feel that the magazines or websites with yogis in pretzel like states of inversions have ill intentions, it made me wonder why are these poses are so important to us in the first place?

I took my first yoga class in a desperate attempt to end my daily panic attacks, to have some quiet time during a time of loss in my family, and also to make peace with my body image issues. In those early classes, I was not this honest with myself let alone anyone else. It was easy to say, "I'm going to yoga to be more flexible". I could avoid the reaction to speaking my truth and saying "I'm going to yoga because I am terrified of my own thoughts and am in need of peace".

To be honest, at one point in my practice, I bought into the idea that an "advanced" practice consisted of jumping back to chaturunga or effortlessly floating up into handstand in the center of the room. These movements require much focus and strength, but wasn't I already demonstrating those qualities in chair pose or by sticking to my mediation practice twice a day? The feeling of wanting to recreate postures I’d seen on magazine covers came to an end upon learning that many of my favorite cover yogis had regular chiropractic appointments or were nursing injured shoulders and bulging discs.. It was not a moment of judgement but more of a wake up call that there is more to this practice than posing.

After my initial 200 teacher training (which primarily covered asana with a bit of philosopy and chakra talk thrown in), I went on to study with Jill Miller of Yoga Tune Up®. My training with Jill focused on how to "live better in your own body". We broke down postures step by step to truly understand what goes into proper alignment and more importantly safely doing a pose. There was also a significant amount of time spent on how the nervous system functions, and on how the way we breathe can impact stress and anxiety. This has made it very difficult to focus on the poses I once loved or aspired to "perfect" and allowed me to let go of certain postures that are not meant for my body (non-attachment or Vairagya is a wonderful addition to any practice).

A recent post by Glenn Black put what I have been feeling into words.

"It’s not that Black doesn’t believe in the power of asana (for those few whose bodies have been properly prepared). Rather, he’s revolted by the way asana has been adulterated and overtaken the meaning of yoga today. “If you want to really develop in yoga, you’ve got to get past the insignificance of asana and really develop the mind.”

I too believe in the power of asana. I also know that asana alone is not what stopped the anxiety, or helped me move past old hurt and insecurities. This practice can have profound changes in the lives of many people, but our fascination with asana masquerading as yoga can be intimidating. Yoga helped me to slow down, to honor the body I have today, not the one I will have after a few more years of practice and working out. Taking my studies beyond asana helped to dive deeper into personal traumas and find peace. This inner awareness both on an anatomical and emotional level is why I ended the rebellion and got back on my mat.

Jessica is a Los Angeles based Yoga and Yoga Tune Up® . Yoga Tune Up® Instructor. You can find out more about her on her website www.jessicalesley.com.