December 9th, 2014
By Peter Sterios, founder of Manduka
Day 1 (actually day 7)
After 6 days of travel by plane, boat, car and bus, we have finally arrived to Aro-Ha, a magical retreat center near Queenstown on the South Island of NZ. And today was my first yoga practice since we left... and so sweet it was, in this special room surrounded by a nature so pristine, raw, and powerful, that profoundly reminded me of what a small existence I live in .
My inner "nature" was so intimately connected to the larger, outer nature found in this breath-giving place. Can we find this connection every time we step onto our mats? It feels so available and accessible here...
This morning was cold, with fresh snow on the hills only a couple hundred feet above the steep rocky path that is my commute to the studio. But I'm appreciating the walk, like a warm-up mentally and physically to prepare myself for my morning practice. I have also begun to notice, after just two days, the effects of the detoxifying diet that is part of the health program at Aro-Ha. My mind feels clearer, my emotions subdued, and my physical body light (no bloated belly after meals) and strong. I'm pleasantly surprised how quickly the effects of being here have come to my attention. Can we live in a "retreat" state of mind as a householder or city dweller, as a parent or partner, as an employee or business owner? Maybe... Or at least we can keep trying, keep returning to that state, even it means going to retreats ‘for practice.’
What has become so very clear here at this unique place in this special country, is when we step out of the routine of our lives, ie work, exercise (or lack thereof), diet, even the communities we live in, we gain a little broader perspective of who we are and what we do with our time. It opens the door for growth and positive change in our lives - physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Seeing and experiencing the natural environment here, one of the obvious changes was the passing clouds. This display of natural beauty would communicate in a way the wonder and mystery of this world, and suggested everything will be ok... that there are forces in this world that operate at a much bigger perspective than our limited understanding, and all is well. This is also appropriate for our yoga practice - finding wonder and mystery in our practice reminds us that all is well on the deepest of levels .
Our last day at this spectacular resort, full of gratitude for Aro-Ha's powerful reminder of the overwhelming beauty found in nature and the earth's infinite ability to amaze. I come away from this retreat feeling a renewed connection to my own inner nature, and the wonder of the body and mind I've been given. I have once again experienced the surprise of how powerful these two aspects of myself are when working together - when I am able to connect deep places in my physical body with the subtle sensations of my breath and the subtle influence of my intuitive or creative mind to produce an opening of sorts, either somatically or neurologically, that gives insight into my existence in a surprising way. It is a joyful experience and one that, as a teacher, and I am called deeply to share...
Thanks to all of the students who showed up to learn (especially Tisha Bremner, above on the left, winner of Manduka’s giveaway trip to this magical place), and to co-founder Damian Chaparro and all the staff at Aro-Ha who have created this magical place and who creatively support their guest's personal transformations in such a powerful way!
October 27th, 2014
Manduka has been humbled to work alongside many inspiring yogis who share their practice with the world. We were touched by Jodi Weiner's passion to support others and commitment to putting her practice into practice. Through Yoga Gangsters Jodi has been sharing yoga with those who might not otherwise have the opportunity. We were deeply inspired by her blog post and wanted to share these heartwarming words with you:
The room is a blank canvas waiting to support the connection and love about to unfold, empty but for a few chairs, books and a bin of yoga mats with a stale odor. The chill in the air is nice on a hot summer day, but short lived when the youth come in and heat it up. It’s bright with natural and florescent light; kill the lights – check. Light the incense – check (no more stinky feet issues), set the music to a recurring simple AUM…Immediate curiosity happens as they begin to trickle in to see their YG’s seated, calm and smiling.
“What is that smell?” – yup, got em now! “Why does it feel so calm in here?”
The youth we serve are beautiful, eager, jaded, cautious and sometimes resistant. But when the trust is given and they look you in the eye and share your heart with them, this is when magic happens. You see a softening, then you feel it in your heart, your belly and then your eyes share it back. That is the magical moment of pure connection. Maybe it takes a few weeks; maybe it occurs the 2nd visit. As a YG volunteer I stay open to the magic that unfolds when the mat unrolls and the sweet lights (youth) step upon their magic carpet. I continue to enjoy the energetic and spontaneous moments of a free form beat box throw down on the mat, keeping it fun, connective, invigorating, interesting and FREE spirited. When we shift to what we think it should be, we lose the essence of service, we lose the visceral experience and stay stuck in our own mind.
We have so many beautiful gifts to share; otherwise we would not have been called to service on this path. Whether we serve anonymously, boldly or somewhere in between, we heard the call, felt the pull and had that gut sensation to share our heart. We continue to serve wholeheartedly and would love to share the indescribable journey service brings to your life.
For our volunteers who have had the courage to step on the mat with youth, thank you. For those still toying with the idea, know what you bring with your heart will win out every time. When we show up completely present, to serve, to play and empower we all connect and walk away smiling, softened, grounded and floating all at the same time…nothing quite like a service high!
October 13th, 2014
It’s been a month of celebration and reflection— we asked what your yoga means to you when it is most raw and true, and you answered. Thousands of you shared, reconnecting us all to the unfiltered root of this transformational practice. It’s been an honor to witness to your strength, warmth, and wisdom, to reflect + connect as a community. This is what yoga is really about. To see your community in action, have a look at what your fellow yogis are sharing using #ThisIsMyYoga on Instagram, Twitter or at Manduka.com/thisismyyoga. Here’s a brief glimpse into the soul of the fourth week of #thisismyyoga.
Courtney Cronis, @tiny_yogini (who, as a thank you for sharing her story, will receive a suite of gear from our new Fall Collection, plus a gift for the yogi she tagged next, Brandi @omyogasana)
#ThisIsMyYoga My yoga is connection. Finding connection and learning about my own body and my own soul and emotions. Connecting to the earth around me, to nature, to all creatures and being able to now see the life and importance of each and every own of them. Connection and appreciation to all of the people in my life, being able to be kinder and more compassionate not only to them, but to everyone I meet. Connecting to music, to good people, to food, to books and wise words, to truth. Connecting to my own open mind and open heart and being able to live my yoga off of my mat so that I not only have a flexible, strong, and balanced body, but an even more flexible, strong, and balanced soul. Yoga is the way that I discovered how to connect to the entire universe around.
Holly Oldroyd Wielechowski, @yoginiwildandfree
Getting to the edge of everything and then letting go... #thisismyyoga
Justin Wolfer, @justinwolferyogi
The beauty of yoga is that message is simple and universal - Practice and be full aware and unattached to what surfaces. Over time you will discover where you've placed the barriers preventing you from discovering that which you are seeking. Want to find love? Then practice being the most attentive unconditional lover you know how to be. Soon you'll start to see your conditions for love.... So what are you seeking? #ThisIsMyYoga
Cristina Michalski, @cristinamichalskig
Healing from the inside out #thisismyyoga
Herna Mohari, @herrrna
When I am on my mat, I am free to be ME. I feel beautiful; not because I have sexy legs nor a bendy body, but because I am able to create and put into shapes and movements, the beautiful person I feel inside. My movements powered by my breath, full of energy; Prana. When I practice, I feel so strong, joyous and free, capable of doing things I never thought I could. Everyday, somebody tells me I look underweight/skinny/sick/anorexic. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. Yoga does not judge nor hate, it is pure love. #thisismyyoga
Jeanie Hay, @jeaniehay
The photos I usually post are genuine expressions of my open heart and my joyful physical practice, and yet I have been holding back from showering certain parts of my practice with that openhearted love. My ego encourages me to post mostly pictures of poses I am "good at." Those headstands and wild things are beautiful, but I am ready to find and show my shadow sides, the places that I keep hidden because I judge them unworthy. Yoga can be intimidating to many people who have never tried it. It's easy to look at a photo of an experienced Yogini in an advanced pose like handstand and think "I can't do that with my body so yoga must not be for me." As a yoga sharer, I want to spread the idea that yoga meets you right where you are and is accessible to everyone. Start where you are, with what you have, a body. Sit and breathe. Move and breathe. Release your harsh self-judgment about what it looks like. Notice how it feels, stay with the sensation, and see what happens. In service of this idea, I will be posting photos of myself practicing the poses that I find challenging. I will use this waning moon cycle to release my ego's need to look accomplished and I will allow my self to be vulnerable. Here we go! This is my full expression of forward fold - I feel strong sensation in my hamstrings, my low back, my upper back and neck here. Today I cannot fold myself all the way over my legs. Today I can make this version of this shape and I can sit with it and I can breathe with it. This is my yoga.
Kirsten McCormick, @eatfoodlovelife
| C L I M B I N G | my way through fear, boundaries and thoughts of impossibility #thisismyyoga (on a rock) #firstclimb
I travel to the Swedish mountains to be soothed, healed and to have my senses put back in order. This is the view from my mat right now. The colors of the sky above. The sound of the river below. I am forever grateful for this beauty of nature all around. Thank you. #ThisIsMyYoga
Allyson Pfeifer, @allypfeif
#thisismyyoga :: remembering that i am here to grow, to love, to heal. that i am peace, gratitude, and love. that i have the strength to remind someone else that they are already whole. that i fall and forget, and that makes me unwaveringly human. that i too am strong, resilient, and whole. forgetting and remembering, over and over again.
little pinch action in front of this awesome wall piece in Wynwood #ThisIsMyYoga
Britta Farr, @brittabearr
Just hanging out with the clouds #ThisIsMyYoga
We often hear yoga referred to as a "soul sport", a hobby enjoyed on so deep a level that even the soul becomes dialed into the movement. Each day we bring a new body to the mat, some areas are stiff, some need strengthening, other bits need lengthening. And each day this ratio of tightness to spaciousness changes so we must bring total awareness to all parts of our being and then "dial in" our practice to meet the needs of the body in that moment. Yoga is my soul sport.
Go to yoga like you mean it! #thisismyyoga
The beauty of this community is that we are here, lifting one another when we are in the midst of regaining our sense of purpose in our practice, and this conversation remains open. We encourage you to keep sharing what your real yoga means on Instagram or Twitter with tag #ThisIsMyYoga.
October 6th, 2014
Let’s talk about yoga. Do you think of bending and stretching and breathing? Do you think of Indian gurus or suburban Californians? Do you think of NFL Quarterbacks and Olympic medalists?
There are 20 Million Americans who regularly practice yoga – and we think you should be one of them. You read Outside Magazine (and even open its sponsor emails), you value physical wellbeing, you like cool gear.
Allow us to introduce ourselves. We’re Manduka, and we’re honored to be the world’s leading creator of eco-conscious yoga gear. This summer, we debuted LiveON – the first ever 100% recyclable, 100% reclaimable yoga mat. Lightweight, versatile and attainably priced, this mat was especially designed for the ‘yoga curious.’
Recently we had a candid conversation with an unexpected yogi: a former professional Ironman triathlete, two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion and the creator of Vega – the leader in clean, plant-based nutrition.
Brendan Brazier – our IronYogi – offered us a window to his yoga:
M: Your athletic performance record is extremely impressive – where does yoga fit in for you?
B: Well for a long time, I felt okay about my training. Just ok. I didn’t think I was recovering as well as I could have, so I wasn’t training as efficiently as I wanted to be. Short races are all about talent, but these longer events are about how hard and well you work. That’s when I started getting into nutrition and thinking more holistically. Thankfully, I lived in Vancouver, BC – yoga was pretty normal there. I saw it as a way to loosen up my hip flexors and hamstrings, upper back and shoulders.
M: But there are lots of things you can do for hips and hams, why yoga?
B: I’m a curious person. I want to know why I feel a certain way, what it’s connected to and how to feel good consistently for life. Yoga is a great bridge for understanding this. Plus, I lived right across from the first lululemon store in the late 90s, so I was face to face with yoga every time I stepped outside. I could just look at these yoga poses and see how they made sense.
M: Was it what you expected?
B: The class experience was, but how my body felt was unexpected. I was a professional athlete, but yoga was asking my body to do things that were harder than a lot of my training. I could feel the difference right away, even after that first class I knew something was happening, and it was much bigger impact than I thought it would be.
M: Did you feel comfortable being there?
B: No, not at first, because my body was pretty uncomfortable holding these positions it wasn’t used to being in. But I guess that’s part of yoga – learning to breathe through discomfort. Focusing on the breath and what you can control and letting everything else fall away – I think that even helped me with the mental challenges of racing.
M: So is yoga a physical practice for you, or something else?
B: Physical first, for sure. Those are the benefits I needed and noticed the most. I run and I bike, and those for me are like an active meditation. My mind goes places when I do those things. But in yoga, I do feel focused on it. Right on the edge of what my body can do. Yoga sort of shuts off my wandering mind, which is a helpful skill.
M: What did you notice changing after you started yoga?
B: Immediately I felt like I could take higher quality, deeper breaths. A lot of people don’t really appreciate breathing – it’s just this automatic thing. But when you’re in tune with it, you’re getting a lot more oxygen in your lungs. It’s even helped me sleep better. Then there’s the injury prevention – obviously I can’t say what injuries I didn’t get because of yoga. My Achilles tendons have been tight for a long time, and I know they’d be a lot tighter if I wasn’t practicing. Yoga has been part of my training for 15 years, without it I don’t think I would still be doing this, and still improving.
M: 15 years in, what is your practice like now?
B: A little something every day or every other day. Even just a few minutes of twists and hip opening sequences I’ve been using since my first classes. I travel a lot, so my yoga studio is usually in a hotel room or a friend’s place. I think of myself as a work in progress, the yoga is a way to keep progressing.
M: Why do you think more runners and athletes don’t take up yoga?
B: I’ve heard some people say time. Or not knowing where to start. I think also there might be doubt that it will actually do anything. But I’ve seen it help – with reducing the risk of injury, with speedy recovery, with lengthening my career. You know, a lot of professional athletes are trying hard to squeeze another year or two out of their careers – this should be part of anything you do to be good at a sport.
M: How would you describe yoga to someone who’s never heard of it?
B: That’s a tough question. It’s easier to describe the outcome than the process. Maybe yoga is a process of becoming more aware, able to move more fluently, and think more clearly.
M: Namaste to that.
October 6th, 2014
The movement continues – this collective pause to reflect and connect from the heart, as a community, about what our yoga practice really means. #Thisismyyoga is all about your yoga, beyond the mat and towel, the green tea and leggings. You shared that your yoga is family, service, integrity, being present to ourselves and each other on the mat, on the road, in the kitchen or in a giant pile of autumn leaves. Explore what yoga is to real yogis on Instagram, Twitter or at Manduka.com/thisismyyoga. Here are some of the brave, beautiful portraits of how yoga is happening:
Jess Braccia, @jessbraccia (who, as a thank you for sharing her story, will receive a suite of gear from our new Fall Collection, plus a gift for the yogi she tagged next, Rebecca Schneider @itsbeccc)
This is my yoga. Yoga is knowing upon waking that the day will only be as good as I make it, so I better make it a great one. Yoga is knowing upon waking that there is a reason, a purpose, for having one more day on this earth. Yoga is knowing that it gets better. Yoga teaches me to bend so that I don't break. Yoga has given me a second chance to share the wealth. My yoga is healing; my yoga is self-love; my yoga is teaching others to know their yoga.
Sophia Bush, @sophiabush
…as of late, yoga has meant giving myself a gift. Something just for me. For my health. My wellness. My soul. Learning to listen to my body, and to give it what it needs. Because I'm learning that I'm worth it. I deserve to sweat, strengthen, meditate, and breathe. I deserve to love myself now, in this moment. Not when I become/achieve/do "that thing." Now. #THISisMyYoga
Jenny Reitz, @jenny_reitz
#thisismyyoga Watching the rain storm with my grandpa. This is our yoga today.
My yoga is simple. Sometimes it is strong, sometimes it is soft. Sometimes it is physical but now I am learning that often times it is mindful. My yoga brings me back down to the ground with the sun on my shoulders and the earth between my toes. It releases everything else swirling on around me and brings me back to my center. I'm learning how to use my yoga like a mirror to reflect upon my inner self without judgment. My yoga is my journey.
Sadiya Marie, @Sadiyamarie
#thisismyyoga Trusting everything that life throws at me is for my own benefit. In the end, it all works out exactly how it was supposed to.
Tim Seutter, @yogafirenz
Yoga had opened a whole new world for me and given me FREEDOM! Freedom to be myself, my true self. Yoga helped me gain the confidence to live life for each moment and to take my family and move around the world. My old self would have never dreamt of leaving a stable, well paying job, a nice house and vehicles, a cabin on a lake and leave on a whim to New Zealand. I still don't know why I ended up in NZ but one day the answer will come. Yoga taught me to be ok with the unknown, ok with being myself and ok with giving up all I have known to start a journey of self-discovery and many unknowns. The people I have met, the inspiration that other yogi/yoginis give me every day has been such a blessing. Showing a person that a posture is attainable not through strength alone but belief in oneself has been such a treasure to watch. Thanks to everyone on my yogic journey who have impacted me so much. That is the most memorable part of this all. #ThisIsMyYoga.
My practice is 2.5 years old and I started yoga to ease my back pain, since I have severe scoliosis. Back then I couldn't have even imagined how yoga would change me. Yoga is much more than exercise. It has 8 limbs, but no boundaries. There is a yoga style for everyone. No matter how flexible and bendy and strong you are - there is yoga for you. No matter if you are man or woman - there is yoga for you. Now I realize that I am here to serve. I love and embrace my nature of a woman and I am eager to share it with you. Here I am bringing quotes and photos for you, encouraging you, inspiring you. But, always assume, all that I do, here and there, I do with love. I love you
Kim Stetz, @kimstetz
#ThisIsMyYoga I teach meditation at Rikers prison to women inmates and COs weekly. My yoga is daily and just this breath. [At my studio #savasanastation] I do not charge for mat use - starting in Nov I will ask for $1 donations for mat use so at our year anniversary in April I can donate our gently used mats to the prison program and buy new ones at the studio.
Briohny & Dice Iida-Klein, @BryceYoga
#thisismyyoga ... I am serious about my Yoga practice but my practice doesn't have to be serious. I practice when I can and welcome my kids (and dogs) to join in whenever. If I had it my way, I would practice at home all of the time (I hate being away from my kiddos). But my mom told me that when I'm away, if she tells #babysyd that I'm doing Yoga, he's cool with it.
Rosie Acosta, @rosieacosta
I'm always fascinated by the incredible beauty of Nature. I always say that I find it most powerful & nourishing to be outdoors surrounded by a lush green landscape or close to a body of water. To repeatedly return back to the source of our being and to be able enjoy every magical moment of this planet one breathe at a time. Connecting to nature helps me find the courage to trust the wisdom within my heart…my teacher. #thisismyyoga what's yours?
Melissa Lee, @pocketdwarf
"While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about" I am completely blown away by how much my mini has learnt just be watching what I do. I never would have guessed she would start walking her feet up a wall at the age of Two after watching me do this. My heart is full. It brings me so much joy watching her do yoga and seeing how happy she is when she shows me what she can do. "Look mommy, I do yoga." #thisIsMyYoga ~ sharing my mat with my mini and being totally amazed by her every day. She inspires me to get on my mat everyday.
Jacki Carr, @jackicarr
Hiking in Banff National Park today, I recognized the neon green moss and decided to go ahead and just lay down on it. #thisismyyoga in nature for a beautiful pause to watch the breeze through the trees as the clouds pass and truly allow my body to be held by Earth. And obviously, I call it, moss-vasana. Highly recommended.
Join us! Share your real yoga on Instagram or Twitter with tag #ThisIsMyYoga. Show your community what your practice is really about, and tag another person to share theirs and keep the conversation going. Next week (our last week) we’ll select one yogi 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.
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What does your Manduka help you #practice?
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