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October 17th, 2013

Commitment And Dedication

By Manduka Ambassador, Dana Damara

I wrote about this in my book, “OMs from the Mat” and when I re-read it this past week, it made even more sense to me.

I said something like, “If commitment is such a strong word, I wonder why we sometimes use it so loosely.” And then I went on to say, “Even if you have to just pick one thing… pick it and be committed to it! No matter what it is.. .a yoga class, a person, your word, just do it!”

Since moving to California back in November 2012, nothing has rang more true to me in my life. Nothing.

Amidst the most AMAZING opportunities of this big move…(and I mean it… magic occurs every, single day) I have also experienced mass confusion, dead-ends, fearful situations, lonely times and deep pain.

Betcha didn’t know that did you? Well, it’s true.

What I have found through all of this is that I have one strong commitment that’s kept me going. There have been times when I have wanted to give up, run back to Portland and cuddle next to a fire with a friend…claiming “safe”.

That would be easy to do any day of the week, given that I have amazing friends in the Northwest. But I haven’t. I’ve been committed and dedicated to my practice. And I’m not talking about my practice on the mat. I’m not talking about my sequencing or playlists, although they do play an important role.

And oddly, I’m not talking about the commitment I made to my two amazing daughters either. No, that’s not the commitment I am talking about. I am talking about the commitment I made to myself to live my truth. Because I know, as well as you do that truth=freedom=love.

When we make a commitment to ourselves, we may THINK it’s about: making money for our family, showing up our best for our students, helping the planet, serving our employer… but it’s not any of that. It’s about YOU.

The evolution of YOU and how YOU grow and elevate your spiritual being.
It’s super easy to give up just before that breakthrough. You know what I am talking about right? It’s that last straw, that final argument, the repeating dead-end. It’s that moment when you scream and say, “Screw it! I give! That’s it! I’m done!”

Have you ever done that? My suggestion to you from personal experience, having said those words in my life more than I care to admit, is to instead… breathe and keep going. You are almost there.

Now I’m not saying keep on taking what isn’t working. What I am saying is notice. Observe what is happening in as many exchanges as possible.

When you feel that recurring uncomfortable knot in your stomach, or tightness in your throat, breathe. Maybe you just feel “off”. Use the element of the heart and breathe into the belly. Root into your feet and feel it all…if only for 5 breaths. Then ask, what can I do differently in this situation, instead of walking away. What can I commit to right now that will keep me on the path of self-evolution?

Is it patience? Compassion? Trust? Love? Self-love? Knowing what it is that YOU, your soul, is working on to grow is key here. Once you get that, oh my, you will see so many circumstances coming up for you that will assist in your dedication and commitment to moving past it. It might feel like you are getting a bit bombarded to be honest, but you will be okay…once you know it’s all there to help you.

We all have recurring issues or stories. Before you keep telling the same story over and over again, keep quiet and observe. Commit to rolling out your mat, look at yourself and really see what is happening off your mat. Commit to hanging with that challenging pose, that perplexing relationship, that “tough time” and roll through it differently… it’s showing up for a reason.

October 15th, 2013

Going There

By Manduka Ambassador Caleb Asch

I’ve been privileged to be teaching yoga since 1995. I do it because I love it. I love almost everything about it; everything except the numbers. Let’s face it, the numbers game is the bottom line for a yoga studio. If you don’t have the numbers then they get someone who can.

The student base determines a studio’s life. So how do you face your numbers and yet maintain your focus on what you’re teaching? I’ve been engaged in this paradox for a long time. I’ve seen what I thought to be really good teachers have really bad numbers, and give it up. I mean, at a certain point you have to self assess and look out into the world to see if what you’re doing (or being) has value for people. One way to determine that is to look to see who and how many are in your classes. Are the numbers growing? Is the feedback you’re getting positive? What adjustments could you make? All of these criteria are important but what do they mean?

I have wrestled with this for almost 20 years, and the truth for me wasn’t the truth at all! For me, the fewer people I had in my room meant the more I sucked at being a teacher. It didn’t matter that my feedback was brilliant and wonderful. I would get lavish praise, smile and say thank you while thinking; “if you REALLY liked my class then why don’t you come more often and even bring your friends.” The truth for me was that I sucked as a teacher, “I don’t deserve to have a following and I should just give up (what’s become my life’s work) and go back to post-production”.

Finally, during a conversation with an old friend, (who goes way back with me to the earlier days of the “EST” consciousness movements) who asked me; “Let me get this straight; who you are as a teacher, with all these 20 years of experience, is TOTALLY dependent on the number of people in your room?”

At this point we both burst into laughter because my answer was a resounding “YES! That is EXACTLY what I’m saying!”

Finally it was funny. Finally, I could see how I had made it all up in my head. I had made up a belief that some outside, physical result determines who I am. That, if I had a certain amount of people show up then I am a winner, if not then I am a loser! They say that awareness is, in itself, curative, and in this case, hilarious. I could finally see and laugh at the corner I had painted myself into.

Since that conversation I have observed in myself an un-attachment to my numbers, and therefore freedom from them. Gone is the stress of measuring up. Gone is the anxiety of new schedules! Gone is the anger and frustration of helpless victimhood to the numbers! Gone is the desperate struggle to control what I have absolutely no control over.

What remains is my love for the work. What remains is the confidence I have in what I do and, and for the first time, the way that I do it! I am back to being in love with what I do, how I do it, and the people who come to share in that with me.

Oh yeah, and my numbers are thriving…

October 10th, 2013

The Abundance Of Nothing

By Manduka Ambassador, Dana Damara


I have the privilege to step on a yoga mat every, single day. Not only that but I GET to lead classes, workshops, trainings and retreats and call that my “job”.

Every time I step on my mat I bow to what an amazing life I have created for myself this time around.

Just this past weekend I took a group of 10 incredible women to Sonoma County for a yoga retreat. I advertised it as a blissful weekend of connection and empowerment. These women didn’t really know each other, in fact most of them were strangers to each other. Some had been attending my classes for a long time, while others had never been to my class but just needed to get away.

I planned nothing for them, that’s right, nothing. I rented a home in the hills of Glen Ellen ( that had remarkable views, infinite quiet space, a pool and hiking trails). I brought a DJ to play live music in class and a friend who does body work, so they could indulge and unwind. We did two yoga classes a day and I made organic, vegan meals.

But in between those yoga classes there was nothing. And I mean, nothing. It was so fun to observe these women as they struggled with the reality that no one needed them, they couldn’t check their email and they had nothing planned or scheduled. Our theme with the New Moon in Libra was to set intentions around balance, justice, love and cooperation.

Every woman there was astounded with the spaciousness of the weekend. They kept saying, “It’s only noon? Really? It’s only 2pm? Really?” Time slowed down, literally! And they didn’t really know how to handle it, at first. But once they warmed up to it, this thing called infinite space and time, the abundance began to flow.

What I witnessed was friendships forming, emotions flowing, naps happening and people connecting. They were given the space to really experience who they were. Beyond the weekly calendar, the kids academics, the work deadlines, the responsibilities of their real life, they remembered who they were.

The land where we stayed was special – you could feel the vibrational pull of peace and oneness once you stepped onto the property. The home itself, adorned with Hindu Dieties and beautiful tapestry, naturally smelled like incense. The sunrise and sunset were spectacular… breathtaking really.

Practice started on Friday, at the New Moon, and we began with an invocation of cooperation and balance, letting go of what was not serving us anymore, allowing space for a creative birth, both within ourselves and in alignment with the planet. On Saturday emotions ran a bit higher when we were pressed into truly making our dreams a reality by empowering ourselves through movement and breath. Saturday night we practiced yoga nidra while the sun set over the hills, manifesting our desires.

I have been on retreats where every minute is filled with something; something to do or explore. And while I do enjoy that aspect, I find that when there is nothing, we find everything. And in that space of nothing we experience emotions that have been waiting to be surfaced. The vision of our life becomes so transparent when we stop moving… especially when we are surrounded by the natural elements God designed.

When we take the time to rejuvenate and really realign, emotions flow, true connection becomes easy because there isn’t all the “stuff” happening around us every second. We aren’t beeping from our phones, reminding us that we are forgetting something. We may even laugh out loud or shed a tear because we have witnessed, again, that familiar place within ourselves that we call home. And that is where true connection begins.

With clarity comes a creative birth of emotions – when was the last time you took a pause in your life? Can you make time today to allow that opportunity to surface? And when it does can you receive it?

Say yes … find yourself a little spot, get on our mat or your cushion and take it in: the abundance of nothing.

October 8th, 2013

Spread Your Toes

By Guest Writer, Annette O'Neil

As I've been slowly rebuilding my practice after my June injury, I've been thinking a lot about mindful grounding. Specifically, I've been thinking about toes. For me, grounding and gratefulness are almost interchangeable -- and it's all about toes.

Let me step back for a moment and tell you where I am. I'm in Switzerland's Lauterbrunnen Valley. It's a verdant idyll of pillowy grass, dollhouse-bright chalets and milk-tea-colored cows, sandwiched fetchingly between opposing two-thousand-foot cliff faces, painted with a background of snowed-over alpine peaks and cotton-candy clouds. It's heart-stoppingly beautiful. It's also -- on account of the cliffs, you see -- one of the world's classic BASE jumping destinations. I'm living here until October, making several BASE jumps per day (when the cotton-candy clouds aren't dumping decidedly unyummy rain, that is). Lucky? Oh heck yes.

As I’ve been jumping so much, I’ve been noticing the tiny details of my process. You might not think they would, but my toes have a surprisingly important place in my unique ritual procedure of getting ready for a BASE jump. Standing near the edge of the cliff, after I wiggle into the harness of my parachute rig and pull the chest strap tight across my high ribs, I always look down for a long moment at my feet. (Don't believe me? There's video. My helmet camera always captures this moment, a fact I find kinda hilarious.)

When I look down at my sneaker-shod toes at a BASE exit point, the thought that runs through my head is always the same: enjoy this grounded moment. 'Cause once I run and jump, I don’t know what variables will come into play or what the outcome may be. The fact is simple: my feet may never be pressed to the ground like this again. I'm profoundly grateful for every moment they've spent in the treading of this wild, strange planet, and I sure hope they keep it up, but there are no guarantees.

On the mat, the thought is quite the same, especially in the first moments of my practice. Peeking down and dialing in to samastitihi, I organize my toes wide. When the cheerful purple of the mat pops up between my painted toenails, so too blossoms a sense of intense gratitude. After all, I am standing. I am not injured or ill or enervated. At the moment, I am standing in one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen. I am standing in a warm, sunny room, protected from the elements. I am standing in a house with a fridge full of food, and a rack full of clothes, and a constant parade of friendly smiles. I am standing downright emphatically -- toes spread, the roots of my energy shooting deep into the earth -- so that I may sing this gratefulness into the world around me with my yoga practice.
I am standing.

And I’m wiggling my spread toes with happiness.

October 4th, 2013

Embrace: Let's Go Where Your Emotions Flow

This Fall, we’re asking the yoga community to Go There. And Go There, you have! We have seen you thrive, and we have seen your verve. Now it’s time to change the pace and embrace the moment.

Two weeks ago we asked you to Go There by showing us how you life a life full of enthusiasm, and how you go beyond your barriers. Here are a few of our favorite photos from our theme, VERVE, including the photo from our winner, @mars_adventure, who will take home our PRO Black Verve, the eQua Towel in Verve, and 2 unBLOKs.

Here is the photo from our winner, @mars_adventure, plus a few of our other favorite #LetsGoThere Instagrams:


By @mars_adventure, who won last week's #LetsGoThere contest.

Here are some of our other favorites!


Ali Burruel


@wood_house


dawn hyde


@elyzzi


@briyogi


@hotdogla


@jessicalopez

Over the next two weeks, we’d love to see you go where your emotions flow and embrace your greatness. Show us the things that help you be your truest self, and how you embrace the now. In two weeks, we’ll select one winner to receive a PROlite in Embrace, an eQua Towel in Embrace, and a Recycled Wool Blanket.

Practice On,
Manduka