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May 21st, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Sparky

Meet Sparky.

Sparky just got into his first side crow pose. After spending a weekend with Diamond Dallas Page and Arthur Boorman, he was really anxious to try it out. “I had a few minutes of down time in my office today, so I figured what the hell. It took me a couple of attempts, a face plant, a broken pair of glasses and a bloodied eye from said glasses. It was ugly, but I pulled it off. I had to; there was no way the floor and a pair of glasses were stopping me from hitting it!”

Sparky says he started yoga to replace the “deathstyle” he was living with a lifestyle that would heal his body and would last. Before starting DDPYoga, he was a lump on a couch. “You could have called me a father and a husband, but I was just a fat, lazy, uninspired person. Now I am a Daddy to my kid, a Partner to my wife, and someone who wants to see everyone else enjoy the same success in changing their lives that I have had. Everyone deserves to OWN THEIR LIFE!”

Now Sparky is determined to keep moving forward. He knows that it may be tough, it may take several attempts and a new pair of glasses, but he continuously challenges himself and refuses to quit.

We loved learning about Sparky. And we want to learn more about you!

Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page: Manduka.com/You

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

May 16th, 2012

There And Back Again

by Eka Ekong

It’s 1998 for me. I know you’re looking at your calendar scratching your head. Yes, technically it is 2012, but sometimes we have to go backwards to move forward.

In the last 8 months, I’ve lost a parent and a grandparent, and have traveled the world to teach yoga. Though I had received an uppercut to the heart, I felt the need to keep moving, teaching, and exploring the frontiers outside of myself. I’ve been living the life of my dreams while enduring my worst nightmare. Now that I have finally been able to be still for more than 2 weeks in the same place (there really is no place like home), grief came rushing in like a tidal wave. I was swept up in the undertow, and left gasping for breath.

Humbly, I consider myself a dedicated yogi. I can quote the Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. I’ve studied the requisite books (and then some). I’m initiated into a lineage, and have a consistent meditation practice. What a lot of these books don’t tell you is that loss and sadness are isolating. Just as being a yogi can be. People speak in platitudes and clichés, ignore you all together (keeping a safe, emotional distance), or think that because you are a yogi, you must have it all figured out (if they only knew). In this big, beautiful yoga world you will find many a great article on how to open your heart chakra or perfect your inversions, but not much guidance on what to do when your heart is breaking.

I did the only thing I thought I could do, I withdrew. I went into my cave, ignoring my work, my loved ones, my life. My sadness and regrets weighing heavy on my heart, I cried for what felt like a lifetime. I contemplated quitting teaching and moving away. I felt frozen like Arjuna on the battlefield in his chariot. Do I run, or do I stay and fight?

Rather than being swallowed by it, I decided to sit with my shadow, exploring my inner landscape like a new world. The difference now was I couldn’t hop on an airplane to escape. I had to face my past. I had to love myself - warts and all.

Eventually, I unrolled my Manduka. Not solely in my home, as I had been already doing daily, but taking group classes around the city. Just as Arjuna had Krishna, I had my practice (and some really amazing and patient people in my life). Slowly I’ve been coming back into the world, embracing asana like I did in the early years on my mat. I’m remembering the passion I had for my teaching and my work (Yes, Manduka ambassadors, I am back).

I had to face what was behind and within me to begin to move onwards on my path. Sometimes, I still feel the pull to retreat into my cave, but it's walls aren’t as suffocating as before. I know that I will fumble and stumble as I navigate this new terrain, but in meeting my darkness, I am remembering my light once again.


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

May 14th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Diane

This is Diane.

When Diane found out that she may be facing the end of her life, she learned what really mattered. Her family, friends and all the places where love existed. "Ultimately," she shared, "I’m pretty convinced that what matters most for 99% of the population is our relationships."

A cancer diagnosis brought Diane to the mat in new meaningful ways. With cancer comes vulnerability, and for a woman like Diane, who was used to being a source of strength and help for others, that can be the most challenging part. "When you have cancer, you get that opportunity to say, 'Okay, am I going to allow myself to be vulnerable, and let people help me?' But you come to this crossroads. And if you have cancer, you better let people help you! So you have to become vulnerable." She practiced letting go, and her most challenging pose, savansana, started to make sense. Then came the courage.

"It takes a lot of courage to run around without hair on your head. It takes a lot of courage to say, 'I’m scared out of my mind! And I might die.' But if you don’t do that, you’ve missed out." Now open, now accepting love, now healing in more ways than one.

Meeting Diane was a lightbulb moment: we need to meet you too. This is your community, and this is the YOU year. Manduka is on a mission to get to know everyone who makes this yoga community so vibrant, and so real. Because we all have something to learn from you — about how we see ourselves, or approach our practice, or make yoga mats.

Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page: Manduka.com/You

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

May 9th, 2012

Mamaste: Mother's Day Love From Manduka!

Sometimes it seems like a mother's heart couldn't be bigger, even when her support, balance and patience are thin. So we wanted to suggest another kind of gift for Mother's Day: the gift of yoga. Show her your gratitude by sharing the practice that helped you reveal it. After all, support, balance, and patience are much easier to come by on a supportive new mat or restorative bolster.

This month, our famous eQua Towels are also free when you order $150 or more (just use code PICKEDFRESH). You can also check out our Facebook Page for a collection of sharable e-cards that show love to your favorite mamas.

Even though we don't need a special reason to celebrate the amazing women who have shown us endless love and guidance, we'll take one anyway. Happy Mother's Day to all the yoga mamas.

Mamaste ;)

PS: See our Facebook Page for all of our sharable e-cards - a sneak peek below!

May 7th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Kyle

Meet Kyle.

Kyle started yoga when his mother-in-law offered him a scholarship to take as many classes and workshops as he wanted. After his very first savasana at Yoga Circle in Chicago, he had the inkling that his life had changed but didn’t quite know then where this “yoga” thing would take him.

He now takes his practice one breath at a time. Yoga has taught Kyle to be a strong masculine person who is not afraid to surrender to the present moment. He feels that yoga has even made him a better father.

These days, you can find Kyle downward dogging, tree-posing, and half-mooning on the same Black Mat PRO that he’s had for 7 years. When we asked Kyle how yoga had moved him, he simply replied “How has it not?”

We loved learning about Kyle. And we want to learn more about you…

Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page: Manduka.com/You

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka