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November 9th, 2010

Each One, Teach One...

By Garth Hewitt

In the beginning of October, I recently started co-leading a 200hr Teacher Training program for Pure Yoga Studio with another Los Angeles based Yoga Teacher, Ashley Turner. The Pure Yoga Teacher Training program was created by Alanna Kaivalya.

Pure Yoga is a large studio that originated in Asia. It has now expanded to America with two locations in New York and plans to expand Nationwide. Pure Yoga has partnered with Equinox Fitness Club and this Teacher Training program is being hosted at Equinox Fitness Club in Century City and South Bay, California, as well as in several other regions around the country.

We are 4 weeks into the 10 week program, and it has been an incredible journey so far. We meet with the 17 Trainees on Friday evenings and most of Saturday and Sunday. We have a really amazing group. We have a few Teachers who are assisting us in the program and we've brought in guest Teacher Trainers from New York as well.

This past weekend our Anatomy Module was led by Maura Barclay from fellow Manduka Ambassador, Jill Miller's, Yoga Tune Up program. It was a pretty great weekend! I've been in a lot of Anatomy Training's in
the past and this was one of the best I've ever seen. So far the Training has been very intense. This is my first time leading a Teacher Training program and it definitely requires more of you than leading public classes or working with private clients. The time and energy commitments are huge, but well worth it.

On Sunday nights, after the Training is finished I am usually pretty exhausted, but it's so inspiring though. The work is very fulfilling and I like the challenge. I like being pushed out of my circle of comfort. It's been wonderful to see the students in the program grow and to work with them at such a deep level has been great.

They are having breakthroughs that probably wouldn't be happening if they were just attending regular public classes. The program is designed to really push them and challenge them. They are really being forced to move out of their own comfort zones and we are doing our best to hold the space for them. They are learning so much about themselves and this experience will probably change their lives, whether they go on to become yoga teachers or not. That's the amazing thing about yoga. It has an impact on every area of your life. It's not just what you are doing on your yoga mat. Maybe it starts out that way for a lot of people but eventually the practice really starts to transform who you are, or who you thought you were.

This is a really well-rounded Training program. Pure Yoga's intention is to honor all different styles of yoga. This 200hr program draws mainly from the Iyengar and Ashtanga traditions but is all about inclusion instead of exclusion. One of the things that attracted me to the program is the amount of teaching the Trainees actually get to do. It's incredible. We have them teaching to each other right from the first day of the program and that's exciting. Pretty much everything they learn from us we then ask them to teach to each other.

This is to prepare them to stand in front of a class and connect with their students, especially if they decide to go on to become teachers. We(the trainers) had all been involved in other Teacher Training Programs in the past that we felt didn't offer the students many opportunities to teach, and this was something we wanted to do differently with this program. After four weeks of training with them teaching something new every day, I'm convinced this is essential to a program of this kind.

In order to teach something you really have to understand it. You have to know what you are talking about to effectively communicate to your students. There's no better way for us to help our Trainees see their blindspots than to have them get on their feet and teach what they have just learned and then to receive feedback from each other. I think it's been an incredible journey for Ashley and I as well as for the Trainees. I
think we are being challenged as much as they are to dig a little deeper into our own practice and into our own ability to communicate what we know. It's been a pretty incredible experience, and I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks of the program. After that, I will probably be looking forward to a week off!

November 1st, 2010

#Practice Giving: 10% To Charity: Water

We all know the importance of drinking water before, during and after a yoga session to stay hydrated. But what if there was no clean water available to drink--not only for your practice, but for your daily routine? Unfortunately, for almost a billion people on the planet, this is a reality. Unsafe water and a lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all disease and kill more people than all forms of violence, including war.

Fortunately, we can do something to help. In the spirit of #Practice Giving we are encouraging our community to unite together to raise funds to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations through the charity: water organization. Just $20 can give one person clean drinking water for 20 years. Our goal? To raise enough funds to hydrate a whole village.

Use the PROMO code: WATER upon checkout and receive 10% off your purchase, plus 10% of your proceeds will go directly to charity: water. You can also donate directly through our fundraising page at: www.mycharitywater.org/manduka

Join us in giving back this holiday season! Every drop counts...

October 12th, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

We’ve all been touched by it, so in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Manduka is giving something special back to the global community. During the month of October, buy an Orchid PROlite and we will donate 20% of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help further breast cancer research in hopes of finding a cure. Help us #practice awareness this month. Namaste, friends...

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.