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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 3rd, 2013

Yogi Foods For Fall

By Manduka Ambassador Rosie Acosta

I’ve spent the last couple of years writing about food. Something I feel very lucky to be able to do, I write about how to make healthy treats, different ways to transform traditional recipes to vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

I wanted to write this blog about how important it is for us to eat fresh veggies and seasonal fruits during the transitions from summer to Fall and Fall to winter. Instead I felt this forum would be better suited to write about the foods for Fall that tend to fall off the food chain.

I recently relocated from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. I found myself having some serious mal-nourishment and a little over-nourishment {there are way to many great places to eat in Portland…I digress} I felt very overwhelmed and completely ungrounded. My energy was low, I had writers block and I had traded in my sandals for wool socks. Clearly, I was not an image of health. I know that the food we eat is important to how we feel, but there are other food groups that I feel merit a slot on the food pyramid. Here were a few things a yogi should add to the grocery list this fall:

Nourish Your Temple: Fall calls for plenty of root veggies! We can sometimes become severely overwhelmed by the Holiday season approaching, or just life in general. This time of year I notice that some of my students {myself included} become a bit ungrounded. Take this time to stock up on lots of root vegetables like beets, carrots, parsnips and turnips. Eating root vegetables cultivate exactly that…roots. Eat plenty of greens and sprouts and always enjoy foods that come in their most natural state.

Spend Time With You: You are Awesome! In case you didn’t know ☺. It is so important to get some duly deserved “quite-alone-no-social-media-of-any-kind -time”. A friend of mine has a beautiful 2 year old son, when I told her she needed time to herself she rolled her eyes as if I was blind to the little toddler hanging from her neck. She was able to squeeze in some alone time during his newly designated naptime {this has had a 40% success rate, which I think is pretty good}. Giving yourself some alone time to do the things you love is important food for the yogi. Take time for yourself, get cozy and read a book or write in your journal or do 5-10minutes of meditation.

Practice, Breathe, Stretch {Repeat}: Move your body. When seasons begin to change, so do our bodies. What was working for you during the summer, maybe isn’t working so much during the Fall {if it is, carry on}. It is important to stay in motion. This can apply with everything else we do in our lives. I noticed that during the period when I moved I wasn’t practicing yoga, or running or breathing for that matter. It was very easy for me to fall into a rut when I wasn’t tuning into what my body was saying {practice, breathe, stretch and repeat}.

Go There: Go on an Adventure! Go on that camping trip or a road trip you’ve always wanted to go on. Chose a long weekend, or a day and do something out of the norm. A day trip to your local wild life reserve, park, or beach. Its important for us to see and FEEL other environments, this can help inspire and cultivate motion in our lives and get us in touch with Mother Earth.

I Can See The Future: Practice positive thinking. Let negative thoughts and negative people in your life take a back seat. I would say in terms of food, this would definitely be a Super Food. Let yourself think big, and visualize the things/people that make you happy. {Insert Positive Thought}

A yogi knows that practice brings magic. This applies to the food we eat {practicing healthy eating habits} relationships in our lives {having positive people in your life}, our career {doing what you love}. The most important vessel to feed is you, love and nourish your temple, you only get one.

Love, Rosie

October 1st, 2013

It's Good To Share

By Patti Carr Cocciolo

Most of the time, our practice is very private, and very personal. Even in the most crowded classes at your local studio or gym, our teachers ask us to leave the outside world, come onto our mats, into our bodies and to focus on the breath. All of those cues help us to zero in on what should be a very internal event: our own yoga practice.

But sometimes, the practice moves outward. To a very public place, like Center Field.
This weekend, my family and I were part of Yoga Day at AT&T Ballpark in San Francisco, CA. After the Giants game (a loss, mind you, so most of us were already working through some serious, very recently-inflicted suffering….), about a hundred yogis and yoginis took to the field.

Now, I knew this was right up my alley. There are few things I love more than my family, my yoga, my Giants and my city. To be able to celebrate all of those things at the same time, Wowza.

What my family and I thought, was merely game turned out to be more than that. Hitting the field with mats in hand was just another incredibly generous gesture on behalf of my two exhausted, heartbroken children (did I mention the Giants lost that day?), and my already incredibly supportive, budding-yogi husband.

Here’s where the magic happened: by taking my practice, my very personal, private practice, to the outfield with my family, I went somewhere I’ve never gone before – I truly shared my practice with the people I love the most, and it was heaven... There was laughter, concentration, joy, wicked awful alignment, freedom, and lots of happy tears. In the moment, I found the joy of doing something I love with the people I love. And later, looking at the pictures, I was choked up to see my younger son meditating peacefully (to be fair – this was captured in between yoga-inspired bouts of breakdancing), and my older son, with his head tilted toward me in most every pose, watching, learning, truly making an effort to understand the outward shapes, in order to reach the inward space that his mother talks about all the time.

Do I want to practice every day with a 9-year-old baseball player and a 7-year-old breakdancer? Probably not. But what I learned on Saturday is that there is joy in sharing your most precious practice. That by opening yourself up to share, you rediscover why you do this in the first place. For me, I was reminded that I practice so I can be a better version of myself. That, in turn, makes me a better wife and a better mother. All of this came together on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in San Francisco- deep, deep in Center Field.

September 6th, 2013

Go There: Manduka’S Fall Challenge And Giveaway

This season we’d like to take you away. Out of your comfort zone and into a daring new place. Out of your head and into your body. Away to where real growth happens and your truest self comes out.

We want you to Go There.

We can’t tell you exactly where ‘There’ is - only you can do that. But Manduka will help, as we challenge you to try more, trust more and feel more. Go THERE.

And show us what it’s like.

Let’s Go There using Fall as inspiration to try something new and express yourself entirely. Then comes the bravest part: sharing a photo. Go There to Instagram tagging #LetsGoThere and @MandukaYoga, or upload to the special tab at Manduka’s Facebook page.

Every two weeks, one yogi whose photo helps us all Go There will receive a specially created Manduka gift set. To help guide your journey (and your photos), we will focus on a series of themes inspired by Manduka’s Fall color ways:


Starting today: THRIVE
Open your heart on or off the mat.

Starting September 23: VERVE
Reveal your real power and strength.

Starting October 7: EMBRACE
Go where your emotions flow.

Starting October 21: INDULGE
Treat yourself to the ultimate restoration.


So now get up. Get out. Go There for a chance to be your most you (and win a new + improved eKO Mat, Recycled Foam Block and eQua Towel, all in the season’s new color, THRIVE).


And know that we’re always here to support.

Practice On,
Manduka