blog

October 10th, 2010

Thank God For Pregnant Women

By Charlie Samos

I remember only one pose from my first yoga class. Downward facing dog, or in that yoga language, Adho Mukha Svanasana. Seemed simple at first, got ugly in a hurry. My foolishness stacked the deck against me. I was a really fit guy, in what was considered good shape, but with a back injury. My chiropractors words almost verbatim: “Charlie, you can come see me, your doctor, for the rest of your life, and I will always take care of you, or you can do something about your back, see me a lot less and we can be great friends.” I asked him what the “something” was, and the answer was yoga.

Less than 48 hours later, I entered my first class. Of course I picked out the perfect class, a level one, designed for beginners…Yea right. Not a chance. Instead I asked around the local gym for advice on taking up yoga. Being non-competitive compassionate people, they sent me to an advanced flow class. Thanks guys, I love you too. I suffered from heat stroke, sun stroke (as in too many sun salutations), and almost had a stroke, but I will try to recall the story, hoping you can benefit from it, or at least laugh at my expense.

Let’s set the stage: of course I don’t know where the studio is, so I’m late. Zip up the stairs, already sweating, and into the room. First OMG moment. One hundred, I am not exaggerating, or more students in a huge room. Four guys, and 96 women, AND the guys are all skinny. I have an intelligent thought enter my mind: what if, just what if, this yoga thing is hard. I don’t want to look like an idiot, so I better find someone that looks like they just might suck at yoga. I kid you not, I scanned the room for this “suck at yoga student.” Then into the room, a gift from the heavens, a pregnant (8 months 29 days), woman enters. Lays her mat down, lies down, belly nearly touching the ceiling, and closes her eyes. I of course immediately lay my mat next to hers. She seems to be breathing heavy already and her eyes are closed. Poor lady is exhausted. Awesome, I should look great. Me, I sit up, and watch everyone talking, or stretching, waiting for class to begin. In walks the instructor, and an air of silence falls over the room. From this point on everything is a blur.

I’m sure he didn’t start out in down dog, but I can’t remember, or more likely I blanked it out. So let me describe what I remember. Down dog. That is what I remember. I also remember some of my thoughts in down dog. I remember thinking who in their right mind would keep holding this pose, what benefit can it possibly have. I also recall thinking, why the f@ck won’t he stop doing this pose so I can feel my arms again. I am sure we did other stuff, but then I know we did down dog again, and again, and held it for far too many breaths. These yogis breath way too slow, come on folks, speed it up. Did not matter, because we always ended up in down dog anyways.

By now we are 7 minutes into this 90 minute adventure, and I can feel something in my shoulders, and my triceps, and my hamstring, my calves, pretty much the whole back of my body beginning to burn. I guess it was that opening the teacher was talking about. Looking back, it was more likely the blood leaving my extremities in order to save the more vital stuff in my torso. But I forced myself to go on—and why? Well I had to. When I looked to the side, my 8 month, 29 day, heavy breathing, exhausted pregnant lady, was unfazed by this whole down dog thing. The audacity of this woman. Not one break. Not one child’s pose. Not one moan, or groan. Unless she takes a break, I of course can’t. I am a young, fit male, with way more strength than this pregnant lady. No way am I losing to her. By the way, I was not referring to her as a pregnant lady. It was more like, this F@&^%g pregnant chick better put her knees down or I’m gonna…well you get the idea. It was not one of my great yogic moments to say the least.

Seriously, what was the real reason, the real cause of my agony? Well quite a few things. One of the main things was my competitive mind. I had been very competitive prior to this. I had excelled at sports, playing in college and beyond. Competition was all I really knew. Compare, compete, win! That simple. So I did what I trained my mind to do for years. Not give in, compare myself to others, and do my best to win. Well, the pregnant lady won. Hands down.

After taking about a week to recover, I looked back and made a decision. I actually decided I was not going to compete in yoga. Most amazing, I pretty much have stuck to my promise. I have my moments where I wish I could get into some pose that my body is not open enough or strong enough to do, but those moments are short lived. I don’t let my mind get in the way of my practice. I do yoga for me. It is that simple. I take classes and could care less if I use a block, a strap, skip a vinyasa, take a child’s pose, skip an entire sequence, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I do my best. However, I listen to my breath, and let that direct me. I refuse to damage the essence of the practice: mindfulness. Be mindful, and move within. Don’t let your ego lead you into injury. Allow your heart to make some decisions, and put the thinking mind on hold. So next time you see me in class or take one of my classes and I make light of difficult pose, or offer you a chance to take a break, or slow down, remember where I am coming from. I got schooled by a pregnant lady, and she still holds a special place in my heart. Namaste.

September 30th, 2010

Featured Retailer: Mbody Yoga

MBody Yoga is bringing the heat to Jacksonville, Florida. This pair of Baptiste power vinyasa yoga affiliate studios and complimentary retail boutique, The MStore, has quickly become one of the busiest and most respected yoga enterprises in Florida.

MBody has attracted a loyal legion of practitioners to its athletic styling’s of power yoga in a heated room, but kept them coming for the MBody message that the practice can cultivate power from within. The MStore has similarly attracted faithful customers through offering a fresh assortment of high-quality, unique yoga apparel and accessories including Manduka mats.

The real success of MBody Yoga may be in its remarkable ability to cultivate community by engaging its students on multiple fronts including retail, volunteer service, teacher training, retreats, DJ Yoga Parties, mixers and movie nights.

September 12th, 2010

#Practice 365: A Year Of Free Yoga Awaits

What can you make happen in 365 days? Imagine the possibilities that a year of free-flowing asanas could open up. We want to bring more yoga into your every day by giving you a year of free classes and Manduka products.

Enter to win and you could be one of the chosen yogis practicing any time, any where you want, on us.

• 1 golden yogi wins: a free year of yoga at any studio
• 3 charmed yogis win: a month of free yoga at any studio
• 5 lucky yogis win: $100 in Manduka Bucks for our products

A year of free yoga awaits. Click here to enter by 11/15/10.

September 10th, 2010

Mama Om: Shedding Light On Yoga For Mamas

By Latham Thomas

Light pours into a pale green room full of manicured plants and bare walls with the occasional Buddha or stick figure drawing mounted in an ornate picture frame. No sight of the phone, computer, or fax machine. All is silent as the cool breeze moves the sheer curtains and makes a faint whistling sound. I lie back over soft bolster, shut my eyes, and begin to breathe- focusing on opening my ribcage, feeling the expansion in my chest, spreading of my collar bones, and the opening of my heart. I turn my palms face up in Hasta mudra: a hand gesture that in yogic tradition reminds us to stay soft and open so that we can receive. This 15 minutes may be the only time I have for myself...but, hey I'll take it.

As a single mother raising a 7 year old boy in New York City, I often find myself entangled in the hustle and bustle of everyday modern city living. Sounds of buses, police sirens, car alarms, and boisterous pedestrians create a symphony of sounds that weave together in vibration....OM...As a yoga practitioner and teacher I am constantly striving to cut away time for myself in the midst of mama duties and career responsibilities. I recently started a pilot series of Mama Meditation hours- guided meditations for moms.

All you need is 5 minutes, a comfortable area to sit in peace and quiet, a nice scented candle, and you're set. Create the space for yourself to relax and focus intentionally on your breathing. Come to a comfortable seated position whether that is in a chair or on the floor with your legs crossed in sukhasana, elongate your spine so you are sitting tall and firm on your sits bones. On each inhale draw cool breath in through your nose, and exhale and sigh the warm breath out through the mouth. Do this at least 10 times. With each inhale continue to draw breath in through the nose, and on your exhales allow the breath to exit through the nostrils.

Choose serenity, choose peace, on each inhale, and release stress, tension and anxiety on the exhales. Quiet the mind and the ego- that voice that takes you out of the moment. If complete silence is not your thing, then focus on an affirmation- a positive thought that you can silently repeat as you sit; for example- "I choose balance. I am grounded in the present moment".

When you are ready to inhale, reach the arms overhead, and exhale the hands to your heart. Gently remind yourself throughout the day to stay grounded and balanced- remember when you are holding space for serenity, nothing can shake you from your bliss- not even a bowl of cheerios spilled on the floors you just mopped.

For more info on yoga & guided meditations with Latham visit her website and blog at www.tendershootswellness.com

Follow her on Twitter- @TenderShoots

September 2nd, 2010

Featured Retailer: Yo Yo Yogi

Manduka is proud to announce Yo Yo Yogi in Portland, Oregon as this month’s featured retailer!

Imagine visiting 100 studios in just 100 days. Say what?! That’s the adventure Alex and Terri from
Yo Yo Yogi did Summer 2009. Starting in Seattle, they ventured south to San Diego with their Manduka mats in tow and coined the journey "have yoga mat will travel..." Now a bit more settled, Alex and Terri have recently opened the doors to their dream studio with a “come one come all”, playful and happy spirit.

“Slingin’ our ‘never leave home without it’, Black Mat PRO, and armed with the schoolin’ that yoga was a hell of a lot more than just a good sweat... we returned to our chosen land of Portland, Oregon to open our flagship studio. Here, our ‘most excellent adventure’ comes to LIFE!” says Alex.

Yo Yo Yogi...mind-bendin’, body stretchin’, peace-providin’ YOGA!