blog

December 17th, 2013

The Gift You Give Yourself

By Patti Cocciolo

The holidays are officially here – Thanksgiving and Hanukkah are just behind us, and Christmas and New Year’s are right around the corner.

It’s easy for your yoga practice to lapse this time of year – it’s hard to find time to unroll your mat with so much going on. If you practice in the morning, a warm cozy bed can be hard to leave. If evening practice is your thing, holiday parties, shopping or increased workload often take priority. And if you travel at all over the holidays, all bets are off.

But here’s the thing – now is when you need your practice the most. It’s what will keep you peaceful when Aunt Bernice gives you yet another “hand crafted” macramé snowflake sweater or when your boss dumps a pile of work on you, Scrooge-style, on Christmas Eve. But if you can’t get to class, and a full home practice seems daunting, what’s a yogi to do?

Here’s a suggestion: choose something simple, whenever and wherever you need it. It might not be your whole practice, but it will connect you to your regular practice in a way that can be really powerful. Here are just a few examples to get you through the holidays, and tide you over until everything calms down a bit:

1. Sama Vritti Pranayama: This practice of even breathing (literally translated as “same breathing”) is a great starting point to find balance. The theory being, that if you can find evenness and balance in the breath, the mind will follow. And it’s super simple. In a seated position (at your desk or on a plane, train or automobile) or even standing (in line at the grocery store, or waiting for that plane, train or automobile…), find a long torso and spine. Now, breathe in for a count of five; breathe out for a count of five. Repeat. If counting is not your thing, chose a word or mantra to focus on, just make sure it’s the same on the inhale, as on the exhale. Taking just a few rounds of this breath can bring calm and clarity immediately, and you can literally do it anywhere, for any length of time.

2. Ardha Surya Namaskar: A few Half Sun Salutes can get your blood moving and get you focused again. Here’s the key: allow the breath to initiate each movement as you go through the linked poses. When we’re busy, our breath can get shallow and kind of lost – like it’s chasing after our body, trying to catch up. Give the breath a few minutes to be back in charge, and you’ll find your center again in no time. An added bonus? It takes only slightly more room than Tadasana. If your cubicle is big enough to stand in, it’s big enough for a half sun salute.

3. Prasarita Padottanasana C: In general, forward folds can relieve low back pain and calm the mind. In this version of the wide legged forward fold, the fingers are interlaced behind the back to aid in the opening of the shoulders, and the release of the head and neck. Try this after too many hours hunched over your computer, or standing behind a register at work. It’s also handy if you’ve just run past 10 gates at the airport, pushing a double stroller, with a giant toddler car seat slung over each arm. Just sayin’.

4. Apanasana and Simple Twist: When you finally hit the hay at night, even if it’s hours past your bedtime, give this one a go. Moving slowly, hug your knees into your chest, and let your knees fall to one side. Slowly bring them back up, and then let them fall to the other side. This simple action releases low back tension, aides in digestion, and it just plain ol’ feels good. It you practice Sama Vritti here too, it can ease an agitated mind and get you off to sleep a little faster.

5. Forward Fold: When it all gets to be too much, fold inward. You can pick your favorite: Paschimottanasana, seated, with your legs straight in front of you; Janu Sirsasana, seated, with one leg folded in to the midline; Uttanasana, a standing forward fold. And then there’s always sweet, delicious child’s pose. Whichever asana you choose, lead with your heart and bring your focus inside. This will keep the world at bay, even if just for a moment. Close your eyes to remove visual distractions and bring you even deeper into your center. Sama Vritti is dreamy here, too.

The most important thing to remember is that your yoga practice is exactly that: YOUR yoga practice. Find simple movements, asanas and pranayama to keep you connected to what you value most from your time on the mat. That should be enough to sustain you through the holidays and into the New Year.

Happy holidays, everyone! XO

December 16th, 2013

Featured Retailer: Ebb 'N Flow Yoga



Where being able to breathe, be, let your fear disappear and feeling part of the community are staples. Your practice, your mat and you, become one. Let the sun salutations warm your body let the energy flow and your spirituality awaken.

Each instructor brings their own unique quality in their teachings. Born from experience is wisdom.

We wish to promote health and wellness and to inspire peace and bliss for many.

Ebb n’ Flow yoga was an idea brought into practice by a mother daughter team. When understanding the meaning of ebb and flow, consider that the entire cosmos is an ocean, and that all life lives within this sea. This body of water is made up of vibration, tides of energy that ebb and flow in natural cycles the same way the ocean does. As with all tides in life we ebb and flow, our energy, our spirituality even our personality ebbs and flows. It is important to acknowledge in life that there will always be changes, ups and downs, ins and outs, but to remember that their will always be an upcoming tide ready to bring you back to your true self. In our lives family has always played a strong role in staying grounded, and being true. Whenever I ebb too high she is always there to reel my head back out of the clouds, or whenever she flows too low I’m there to pull her back up to the surface. This comfort, strength, and confidence that we find in the ebb and flows of our own family is what we hope to establish here at Ebb n’ Flow yoga. The place for you to come to be grounded, to be well and to find ones true self.

December 15th, 2013

Meaningful Gifts: Manduka Partners With Off The Mat


Give great this season with a Manduka eGift Card. Let the yogis on your list pick their gift + we're sharing the love: 10% of proceeds go directly to Off The Mat Into The World®. Off the Mat, Into the World® (OTM) is a non profit organization, dedicated to bridging yoga and activism. Their mission is to use the tools of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism. OTM helps individuals take the path of yoga “off the mat and into the world," expanding the sphere of change outward to local and global communities. OTM does this by facilitating personal empowerment through leadership trainings, fostering community collaboration, and initiating local and global service projects.

You can support the practice of your loved one and also support communities around the world!

Click here to learn more about Off the Mat, Into the World.

December 12th, 2013

No Rest For The Weary: Ways To Recharge During The Holiday Season

By Dana Damara

As a single momma of two busy young girls, I have had to find ways to recharge daily! Some days I feel like I have entered warp speed time zone and will need an extra slow motion replay in order to see what really happened. The holidays just speed things up a little bit for sure. We can’t slow down time; we can’t manage time; we can’t control what’s happening “out there” but we can manage our energy.

And personally, I like to use “energy management” as opposed to “recharging” because recharging would mean that I am depleted and I try not to ever be completely depleted. It’s nice to catch it before it gets to that point, wouldn’t you agree?

So here goes … a few ideas to manage your energy while the world bustles around you:

1. Get up a little early and meditate. Yes, that is correct. Leave your comfortable bed, wrap yourself in a blanket or robe so there is no complaining, and sit for a bit in the morning. You can breathe, chant, pray, visualize, manifest… whatever you want to do…do it. But claim that morning time for yourself. When you get up early you are empowered and you have said, “I’m in control of my day.” (yes, you can trick the mind with this one.)

2. Eat a healthy breakfast. Mine usually consists of a green juice or a protein shake. And have some tea or warm drink.

3. Do not answer every text, email, Facebook message or tweet as they happen. Listen, this is good advice anyway, at any time of the year but especially during the holidays. A lot of those messages you are getting are scheduled and sent from a computer and is an ad telling you about something you don’t have and need to get this minute. Set up scheduled times when you answer or delete these items and do it only during those times. NO EXCEPTIONS unless it’s important stuff having to do with family members of course.

4. Do something for you at least once a week. Paint your toenails, take a bath, go for a run or a hike, do nothing if you want. And then don’t justify it to anyone. Know what’s important and make a weekly schedule for yourself… make sure you are on it.

5. Read a book or magazine before bed. Do not let the television or the computer be the last thing you look at before you go to bed. Make a “cut-off” time and stick to it. Maybe it’s 10:00pm, maybe it’s 9:00pm. Whatever it is, stick to it and then read, chant, sit with your legs up the wall or cuddle next to your favorite person before drifting off to sleep.

This time of the year can mean different things to different people. For some it brings joy, others sorrow, others anger. Conserve your energy as you head out on a daily basis. You never know who you are going to run into and you want to be awake and alive to it all with grounded feet and an open heart.

Dana Damara

December 10th, 2013

Top 5 Foods To Indulge In During The Holidays

By Rosie Acosta

The key to indulging during the holidays is to enjoy the most decadent, best-textured most divinely delicious foods, be around your most favorite people and just be totally blissed out. Most of the time when we think about indulging we cringe at the thought of the impending food coma. The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily have to end on a bad note. Here are a few foods that you can indulge in without the baggage:

1. Indulge in Laughter: Being a primary food, laughing will not leave you feeling like you over did it. I mean, I've never heard anyone get up from the dinner table and say “Oh man, I really shouldn’t have laughed at that last joke there at the end.. that really put me over the edge..” I know you can’t “eat” laughter, but let me tell you.. Have you ever tried smiling when you’re not feeling well? Or when you’re not having a good time? Its pretty incredible how a little laughter can change any given situation. Being with family and friends can be very exciting or at times highly stressful, but allowing yourself to have a good time regardless of where your at will never end badly. This I can assure you.

2. Get Your Greens In: If its green, and if it’s a whole food then its fair game. Leafy greens, tasty veggies, cruciferous plants can really just make for a very indulgent meal. Sure they may not be as “fun” as pecan pie or chocolate cake but is that really true? {I digress} Cruciferous veggies {say Cruciferous out loud, it’s the best word ever} are great for detoxifying the body. Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Kale are all antioxidant-rich vegetables that aid your body’s natural detoxification system and reduce inflammation. Broccoli for example neutralizes and eliminates toxins while also delivering a healthy dose of vitamins. Broccoli is a versatile veggie so don’t be afraid to dress it with some tasty seasonings like red pepper flakes, olive oil, ghee or curry powder.

3. Enjoy The Citrus: Our citrus friends like grapefruits, oranges and mandarins pack a Sweet, tangy flavor that is fiber-rich, it helps lower cholesterol, prevent kidney stones and aids the digestive system. Adding them to an appetizer salad or just on their own can be a nice treat. Plus it’s a great way to neutralize odd flavors if you’ve been taste testing for a few minutes.. or a few hours.

4. Make Your Own Cheese: I recently got addicted to making cashew cheese. I don’t normally eat dairy but I do miss my cheese. This is a great replacement for the traditional stuff and it has awesome health benefits. Oleic acid, the same fat found in olive oil, is very high in cashew nuts. Eating around an ounce of cashews per week greatly reduces the possibility of gallstones and because they are dense in energy and high in fiber, cashews make a great weight loss aid.

UpWard Frog Cashew Cheese
• 1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked in water 2-3 hours)
• 1 lemon
• 2-3 T. Nutritional yeast
• 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

Soak the cashews for several hours (or overnight) to soften them, drain the water off and add to a food processor or a blender with a few tablespoons of juice from the lemon. Pulse together, scraping away from the sides occasionally. Add in the yeast, salt and any herbs you would like to add.

5. Go for the Hot Chocolate: I opt for this instead of the Egg Nog. The primary ingredients of this traditional holiday delight are milk, cream, and eggs. Dairy products have been known to cause inflammation and have the potential to pack on the extra calories with or without the liquor. Homemade hot chocolate is a much better viable option, using a dairy substitute will be easier on your digestive system. Here is a yummy hot chocolate recipe you can indulge in without feeling guilty.

GO There Hot Chocolate
• 1 C Coconut Milk (Almond, Rice or Soy work also)
• 1-2 T Cacao (to taste)
• 1 T Agave or liquid sweetener of your choice (or more to taste)
• Sprinkle of Cinnamon.

Combine all ingredients in a blender or with an immersion blender. The blender will thicken it nicely. You can keep it raw by heating it to about 116 degrees. If you want the traditional variation you can heat as desired.

Being able to live a little and indulge a little this time of year is a real treat. This too is part of our practice, to be able to live a little instead of always abiding by rigid rules. It is a great time to be around loved ones, and to be around those who need a little love from us. Indulging in foods that make us feel good is the key. When we eat foods that don’t make us feel good we are more likely to not enjoy this precious time. So be mindful, be present, and enjoy every single second.

Go for the Hot Chocolate