blog

June 1st, 2011

Sri, Sri, Capri...

Sri is defined as radiance or resplendence. The nature of the world is beautiful, and as we brighten our inner fire, we can see this beauty more clearly, even in those moments that don't necessarily feel so divine.

Here's how our amazing community is finding beauty and paradise in their surrounding world:

Laura Mannino-Gabriel
"My yoga paradise is finding that amazing balance between breath and stillness, where absolutely nothing exists, but I feel the entirety of my body heart and mind filled with exhiliration, peace, warmth, and stillness."

Lucy Reynolds
" My yoga paradise at the moment is sharing yoga practice with my nearly-three year old daughter who likes to 'do yoga like mummy' and tells me Downward Dog is her favourite! I'm far from a perfect yogi and our shared practice never lasts that long but fills my heart with immense joy."

Amanda Huff
"My yoga paradise is when the way I feel about myself and others while I'm on my mat follows me off the mat and I know I'm becoming a better person with each practice."

Christine Harless-Fairbourne
"My yoga paradise is when I see my five year old twins, 11 year old or 21 year old, practicing yoga and knowing they are bringing peace and calmness to their spirits and bodies."

Sondra Bloxam
"My yoga paradise is at my local hot yoga studio, in child's pose leaving my stresses at the corners of my mat, breathing deeply, and living in the moment, ready to take the first vinyasa :D"

Jennifer Aiksnoras
"My yoga paradise is always and everywhere within me."

Tonya Fox
"My yoga paradise is Savasana with my precious little dog lying beside me doing her own Savasana....pure bliss........."

Mary Beth Bender
" Practicing yoga in peru near macchu picchu."

Jessica Sloan
"I recently found my place in the world to practice while in Kenya on a study abroad trip. There is nothing more rewarding then teaching yoga to children who experience little joy in their lives."

Jeff Dawson
"As long as I am with my mat it is always yoga paradise. I am taking my mat to tahoe for wanderlust."

Y is for Yogini
"Paradise is laughter and the ability to find my path, practice, and the humor in anything. ;)"

Ashley Watrous Yost
"At our cottage in Ludington, MI on the beach facing the sand dunes ♥"

Jennifer Cayouette
" My yoga paradise is in my mind. I see pictures of yogis and I'm impressed and intimidated by all those head stands and Pretzel-like poses, and then I swear to myself I will do it one day, but for all the reasons in the world, never got to it. maybe the first of that "one day" is this Friday morning at the community centre's yoga class..."

Britney Call Mellen
"My yoga paradise is my living room floor, first thing in the morning every morning. Even with all the kids' toys scattered around and dust bunnies under the couch, my mat is always a little piece of heaven! (And would be even more heavenly with this gorgeous new mat)!!"

Angel Marie
"Love being surrounded by woods. I hike through Old Stone Fort..do a bit of yoga near the waterfalls..its so peaceful out there. It doesnt get better than that :) The birds, sound of water, even those annoying little cicadas make it enjoyable. The world truly is a beautiful place."

Hayley Bustos
"I practice yoga on the back of my horse. Theres no better feeling than a back bend on the back of your best friend! :)"

Mellissa Lyle
"My yoga paradise would be on a patio overlooking the ocean, somewhere near the equator. Palm trees, waves crashing, Capri-colored water, white sands, and my Manduka mat there to greet me =)"

Ken Wilkens
"My yoga paradise is any time I choose yoga "practice" over "perfection."

Chris Di An
"There is no paradise but yoga."

May 17th, 2011

#Practice Clarity

I recently took a break from my Manduka. It didn't do anything wrong. It didn't treat me badly, or not take me to expensive dinners. I was feeling burnt out, and found it very hard to be on my mat or in a yoga studio.

I remember being in relationships where my partner suggested we take a break. I would kick and scream, hearing that cliche "the break comes before the breakup" resonating in my ear.

Reluctantly, I took a couple of days off of my asana practice(the longest I had been off my mat in years.) I ate pizza, watched movies, and spent time with my loved ones. What I realized was that in several ways I was hiding from myself and my life off my black mat. I was resting in what had always felt comfortable for me, doing what was easy, not taking a risks. But just like in an asana, growth comes from stepping out of our comfort zone and moving towards our edge.

I am happily now back on my Manduka. We didn't break up, we just needed some space. Our time apart enabled me to embrace my life and practice with newfound passion and vision. I am more present in my life, and my practice is deeper than it was before. Taking a break isn't necessarily the end, but can be a new beginning. In the space, in those pauses in between, we can see more clearly and move forward powerfully.

My Manduka helps me #practice clarity. What does your Manduka help you #practice?

Here's how some others are powerfully #practicing:

Teamstretchyoga
"I #practice perseverance. I #practice moment to moment. I #practice service. I #practice Love. I #practice on my Manduka!"

Eunice_cu
"@MandukaYoga helps me practice stillness........"

Pinmoneygirl
"I make it a point to #practice poses that scare me."

Lisa Boise
"I laugh on it. I cry on it. I sweat on it. (Boy! Do I sweat on it!) I find peace on it. I work through anger and frustrations on it. On occasions I ignore it. I stretch on it. I pray on it. I jump on it. I use it and abuse it. And every time I step on it, I feel a welcoming energy from it. My soul can be free on my mat."

Stela Balaban
"The space created each time I unfold my Manduka becomes a safe place, a quiet place, a peaceful place, where there's no judgement and no expectations. And then the fun can begin."

EmilySaurette
"Dear Soul Mat, thank you for being so steady when I felt like breaking -you are my bestfriend."

May 9th, 2011

My Soul Mat

9 years.
Some days I drip my insecurity all over it, and it doesn't mind. No judgment. No eye rolling. No pull yourself together looks..

My Soul Mat: My Black Mat PRO.

Have you found yours?

These yogis have found their Soul Mat, and we couldn't be happier:

Stela Balaban
"My friend and yoga teacher has had her Manduka for 7 years. When I tried it for the first time I knew I had to have one."

Melissa Baker Gentile
"I opened this link in my blog reader: http://www.fitsugar.com/What-Best-Yoga-Mat-13852241?page=0%2C0%2C4#4 ... the description sounded perfect for me! I'm an exclusively-at-home yoga practitioner due to mobility issues and was looking for shock absorption. I bought the Black Mat Pro in Black Beauty - a gift from my husband for Valentine's day. His, "Please honey, buy it" was the best V-Day gift ever. He showed me how much my yoga practice mattered to him ♥ He also encouraged me to buy the color version rather than the black ... sometimes I have to struggle through pain and fatigue to make the choice to practice and he knew that the color would make me smile!"

Kim Puente
"It was SO not love at first sight. I had heard how much everyone loved the Manduka Pro, so I decided I would "try one out" to help me advance my practice. Rolled it out, and we had a "lunch date". Short and sweet. Too slippery. Read what I needed to do. So next was a "spa date" or a rub down with sea salt, lots of sea salt. Our love/hate relationship kept up about a week. I knew if I got to know my Manduka I would eventually fall in love. Which of course I did! One magical day all of the quirks worked out and I have seen my practice soar. Now instead of dreading our "dates" I count the time until the next one!"

May 3rd, 2011

#Practice Being Who You Are

I was blessed with the opportunity to see H.H the Dalai Lama in a lecture series this week. He is such a joyful, loving and truthful spirit! Regardless of the energy of the surrounding environment, there was never not a time where he was acting inauthentically or not speaking from his heart, mind and soul.

There wasn't any smoke or mirrors, or words minced. H.H wasn't afraid for others to see who He is, even when situations weren't going smoothly.

When we are willing to show ourselves fully and completely, we not only create a space for others to let down their guards and open their hearts, but we are also able to see ourselves in each other.

We're able to truly see that we are not really that different after all.. Separation lessens, and true fellowship is created.

I am #practicing being myself(warts and all). What does your Manduka help you practice?

Here's how others are #practicing authentically:

Ami Spencer
"Consistency. Finding a way to spend time going inside. Every. Single. Day."

From @MandukaYoga
"Bloom! Shedding the winter layers and finding the color underneath."

From @MandukaYoga
"You help me practice remembrance of my strength and the still space within!"

Patty Shine
"At my house we had a day of no TV, no video games, no radio. We spent time outside helping a neighbor with their garden.Some play time at the park. We did our best to have a relaxing yoga session though my 6 yr old son cannot "relax" for more than a minute so we called it jumping bean yoga. Though I didn't get my normal relaxed feeling from my yoga, I got that inner glow that only quality time enjoying my children can give."

Youngmee Ahn Hand
"Wash and hang all my laundry outside for the beautiful sun to dry aswell as sanitize my clothes without having to use energy from machines."

Jen Erickson Strating
"Composting all my veggie/fruit scraps, growing as many veggies as I can, biking or walking to do errands, getting my food locally through a wonderful CSA, being mindful and frugal with energy consumption and spending time in nature honoring this beautiful earth!"

January 4th, 2011

New Year, New Sankalpa

By Todd Lavictoire

In the spirit of preparing for the New Year, I have been spending more time in my practice dedicated to self-study (svadyaya). I have heard this process of deepening self-awareness described as a process of making the invisible visible. In other words: “What are my patterns (samskaras)? Which ones are serving me? Which ones do I need to change?” Essentially, I am getting ready to make my New Year’s resolution, or in yoga-speak, I’m looking for my sankalpa for the new year.

I have often been amazed at how the yoga practice has helped me on my life path, and on how many levels my practice has given me insight into my samskaras.

On a purely physical level, those new to the practice come face to face with that which was hidden fairly quickly. The posture (asana) practice has a knack for making us aware of our strengths and weaknesses quite quickly. I often see students who find a strength in their practice and want to work on their strengths every time they practice. Many students also prefer to avoid or neglect working on some of their weaknesses. We also tend to, while avoiding weaknesses, sacrifice proper alignment in order to get “deeper” into a pose. We tend to exploit openings and focus on destinations, usually to the detriment of the quality of our breath and other parts of body that often could use more attention. But many of us, over time, also realize that the recognition of these weaknesses, our acceptance of them, and our willingness to work with them, are at the very heart of a yoga practice that is beginning to gain depth. “Sthiram sukham asanam.”

These physical samskaras are easier to identify and address. Where yoga has a largely hidden value is in addressing the more subtle subconscious patterns. Yoga also helps to make the invisible subconscious patters visible and then provides us with the tools, similar to the asana practice, to reshape and re-pattern these, as well.

As a mindfulness practice, the yoga practice helps us observe our mind’s patterns. First, we begin to recognize our narratives on the mat. Then as our practice expands into our lives, our narratives out in the world become more apparent. At least this has been my experience. Some patterns I had, I had become resigned to. I didn’t know how to address them. I simply thought that that was the way I was. It wasn’t until I was presented with the tools to work with my patterns that I realized that I could change long standing behaviors. My first teacher, Yogi Vishvketu taught me that to change a behavior, we need to foster an opposing behavior. In other words, to get out of your rut, create new ones, more positive ones. If you find yourself in conflict with others put yourself in service to people. If you are stuck in your head, move through your heart. Karma Yoga.

As for changing the way I think, changing behaviors will help shift thought. But to eliminate the kernel of the initial thought, the source of the behavior, yoga offers an even more subtle tool. My guru, Rod Stryker, has taught me that mantra is the means by which we can shift on a deeper, more subtle level, the very seeds of our thoughts. Plant positive seeds so that they may take root and alter the landscape of your mind. There are many kinds of mantras. Some, japa-mantras, are given to us by our teachers, these remain secret and have a particular purpose in our practice. Others are mantras we can choose to help us affect change in areas of our lives where we need a shift.

You see, we all have many mantras already. Many of us say: “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “I hate” or something that puts us into a negative or defeated mindset. Others among us fall into habitual patterns like the need to feel wanted, special or even the need to be against. These are attitudes which keep us invested in or attached to the ego and often focused on difference rather than union.

Whatever your own mantras are, we lay the groundwork for our thoughts and behaviors through these kernels or seeds that grow and infect our days and our lives. Adopting a new positive mantra to help you shift a behavior can serve a purpose in shifting your attitude towards those around you, which can in turn affect those around them. Mantra can help you be the change you wish to see in the world.

The mantra I have decided to begin my day with and share with my classes to spread more happiness and peace for the new year is: “LOKAH(HA) SAMASTA(HA) SUKHINO BHAVANTU” – “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions, of my own life, in some way, contribute to their happiness and freedom.”

My experience with mantra is that, fundamentally, most of them point to the same truth: Through love and understanding for ourselves and others, we come to the realization that we are all divine. Yoga.

Here’s to a successful new year sankalpa!