blog

February 22nd, 2011

Dear Manduka..

Dear Manduka,

As an active Mysore Ashtangi, I’ve been addicted to my “black mat” for over 7 years. From my studies in New York, to HIV/AIDS awareness work in Ghana, my black mat has stuck by me through good and bad (and is perfect for marble and/or dirt floors!). As a field worker for the Real Medicine Foundation in rural India, my yoga practice has kept me sane. I’m able to process the thousands of children I see dying of acute malnutrition, the faces of the people living with HIV/AIDS, and the bureaucracy that I fight with on a daily basis just to provide tribal people with access to health services.

About a year and a half ago, my Mysore practice needed a little extra sweat protection, and I invested in the eQua towel. Get this. Not only is the eQua towel a savior for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd series, but it has faithfully acted as my loving travel companion, going with me whenever my black mat can’t.

Yesterday, I had to take an emergency case to a hospital 8 hours away by car over bumpy pot-hole ridden roads under the hot Indian sun. The poor little baby was suffering from tubercular meningitis and severe acute malnutrition. As the afternoon heat beat in through the car window, I remembered my Manduka. I grabbed the eQua towel out of my backpack, and stuck it in the window. Cool and shaded, the baby boy was able to rest on the long bumpy journey, his fever remaining at bay until we finally reached the hospital.

Thank you, Manduka, for helping us in ways you never thought possible.

Jaimie

--
Jaimie Shaff, MPA
Program Manager: Health and Nutrition
The Real Medicine Foundation (India)

February 10th, 2011

Featured Retailer: The Yoga Center Of Indiana

In 2007, co-owners of The Yoga Center of Indiana began an unprecedented journey that has led them down a path of unexpected twists and turns with no end in sight.
Karen Fox and Heather Thomas both shared one vision, not just another a yoga studio in Indianapolis, Indiana but to build a community. A sanctuary without dogma, mirrors, or perfect poses. A place you could breathe in...
Heather and Karen spent 12 weeks driving five hours to Detroit, Michigan to train with renowned yoga teacher, Jonny Kest. One week after graduating from teacher training, Karen and Heather opened The Yoga Center of Indiana. TYC seemed to fill a much needed void in the Indianapolis Yoga community. Bringing equal parts of heat, music, flowing vinyasa sequences, and encouraging themes to each class. TYC is a community, open to ONE and all.
In 2010, TYC2 was opened in a near north side of suburb of Indianapolis Carmel. It too is a unique space, located in the heart of Clay Terrace, an outdoor lifestyle center.
Karen and Heather invite you into our space to breathe, sweat and rock your body on the yoga mat! Whether you are looking to start a yoga practice, deepen your existing practice of yoga, or simply to unwind and renew your spirit, you will find The Yoga Center of Indiana a supportive and open minded community that is dedicated to your well-being.

February 4th, 2011

Manduka On & Off The Mat: Santa Cruz To Kenya

By Amy Impellizeri

If anyone had suggested to me I would decide to FUNdraise money for something called the Africa Yoga Project as a commitment I would make to being an Ambassador so that once I reached my goal I would go and be of service in Nairobi Kenya for two weeks using yoga as a vehicle for unity, non-violence and possibility, I would have fallen out of my already “swaying” tree pose.

I write this to let you, the global yoga community know that I am stepping off the mat, here in Santa Cruz, CA and taking my yoga to Kenya to be of Seva/self-less service. I have committed to being an Ambassador to Manduka because my mat is going to last a life time and that is how long I believe I can sustain a personal yoga practice.

I have committed to being an Ambassador for the Africa Yoga Project because I believe in the power of community. I have been doing my practice on and off the mat since I was introduced to the Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series. I followed my practice, after many years, to teacher training with Manju Jois (Summer 1999) when my Manduka Black Mat Pro came under my feet. I have taken it everywhere I have practiced/taught since I began to use it. Including my AcroYoga teaching training in 2008 where I was introduced to the Africa Yoga Project. A combination of yoga practices opened up the possibilities of what the power of Yes can accomplish. And now in 2011, I am committed to being of service in Kenya, on and off the mat, sharing yoga and other skills in a global yoga community. The commitments I continue to make to myself when I step on the mat are the small steps leading from Santa Cruz, CA to Nairobi, Kenya. The flow from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean.

Check out the blog:

www.lovetokenya.org to read the journey, unroll your Manduka mat & Lead the Change!

January 28th, 2011

Handstand Nation: Why Keeping Your Feet On The Ground Is Still Important

By Sarah Ezrin

Since when did yoga become synonymous with handstands? Don’t get me wrong; I am a supporter of handstands. I believe there are innumerable benefits to handstands (or Adho Mukha Vrksasana as we yogis call it), from building upper body strength to increasing blood flow to the brain to helping overcome fear to sometimes just having fun. I regularly build sequences that include handstand to help open us for something deeper, and some days I build sequences that lead directly up to handstand itself. However, like anything in life, I firmly believe that too much of anything is not good and we have become a nation obsessed with more. People who can hardly hold Warrior II for five breaths are jumping up into handstand every moment they get a chance, because of some notion that handstands are more “advanced.” And suddenly the practice has become more about learning to fly instead of learning to ground.

Yoga used to be about sitting in stillness and finding acceptance with the present. Instead we are becoming more fascinated and, frankly, obsessed with going further and pushing harder. Level 1/2 classes are now more closely resembling 2’s; Level 2’s now look like 2/3’s; and 2/3’s like 3/4’s. What happens with this process is that we are getting further and further from our foundation. Yes, the physically advanced postures are sexy and alluring, but many people are jumping (no pun intended) right into learning them, without first establishing the most basic elements of any posture -- alignment and breath. In my practice of Ashtanga, we work on very intense physical postures; however, the process of the practice is that we first learn a number of more “basic” postures that help lay the groundwork for the later more “advanced” poses. Without this foundation, the later poses can be extremely risky and unstable. Like any architectural structure, each earlier posture lays a brick that forms the solid ground upon which we build the next posture. Intelligently sequenced flow classes, such as the YogaWorks method and Annie Carpenter’s Smart Flow style, achieve this same effect.

Now let’s be clear, I am not knocking learning nor teaching handstands, scorpion, or any of these delicious inversions. These are phenomenal postures and hugely integral to the practice of yoga. I am apart of this handstand culture and just as guilty! I am just saying that we need to be careful that we are not supersizing our yoga practices as we have supersized our meals. That we should remind ourselves that spending a few moments with both feet on the ground, in stillness and just breathing, is truly the advanced practice. And I think yoga goddess, Judith Lasater, put it best in a 1980 Yoga Journal, when she began to foresee the "more is more" phenomenon, and said “probably the most difficult ‘asana’ of them all is standing on one’s own feet, questioning and analyzing for oneself the deeper meaning of asana, yoga, and life.”

January 23rd, 2011

# Practice Weekly Inspiration

This week's social media highlights:

Walk in light (a line borrowed from Martin Luther King)
http://www.facebook.com/MandukaYoga/posts/186786798007192

Notable yogis Sting and his wife Trudie thank their daily practice – and look about 30 years younger than they are: http://www.facebook.com/MandukaYoga/posts/157185861000769

An intellectual debate on the ethics of yoga competitions: http://www.facebook.com/MandukaYoga/posts/182615811761992

Congratulations to the first winners in our series of #Practice Reverence giveaways; honoring the teachers and yoga styles that brought us to our path:

Vince Doss, winner of a Round airCore Bolster:
"I suffered a head injury from a fall 2yrs ago and during subsequent neuropsych evaluation, I mentioned my "feeling that there is more out there, a spiritual thing that I could not quantify/qualify", a Clinical Psychologist recommended reading anything by Jon Kabat-Zinn he said that meditation was the only way he made it through medical school. Reading "Full Catastrophe Living" by JKZ lead me to several other titles but one was "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga" by Deepak Chopra which lead to a Google search on Ayurveda in my region which came up with my first Yoga Instructor Michelle Fondin of The Ayurvedic Path. Her Meditation and Hatha Yoga class and gentle kindness has truly helped transform my life."

Hadji Jones, winner of a Black Mat PRO:
"The Prana-Flow(@ShivaRea students) brought me to my path of #Practice. But along the way I found @DoYogaPhilly & she's my guide!"