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November 5th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Gigi

Meet Gigi.

When she was 3, yoga was a game of copying mommy on the mat. By the time she was 14, she was going to yoga studios for class. As a high schooler, Gigi was competitive – thriving off the stress and desire to perform. By college, the rush of team sports was over and she needed a new outlet for her focus and energy. She revived her yoga practice, and this time it was much more than a physical experience.

Yoga has been the guiding energy in her lifestyle since then. These days you can find Gigi teaching yoga and spreading the love in one of the most notoriously loveless places in the country – the LA Freeway. Her car sports a custom paint job of inspirational mantras to help calm the mind in even the tightest jams. “You’re Too Blessed to Be Stressed,” “Each One Teach One,” “We Are All One,” and “Be the Change” -- they give people a reason to smile, like a moving meditation even when you're not moving so fast. It's also led to some great red light conversations!

Throughout the years, yoga has helped Gigi and her mom stay bonded, and the student has since become the teacher with Gigi sharing the tools of pranayama, meditations, and restoration with the woman who introduced her to yoga in the first place.

We are so grateful to learn more about Gigi Yogini. And we want to learn about you, too! Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You

We can’t wait to hear from you!

October 29th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Theresa

Meet Theresa.

Theresa started yoga 11 years ago to help ease the process of quitting smoking. Little did she know that yoga would also eventually lead her to quit her job.

After spending decades as a reporter covering murder trials, Theresa had quite a hardened shell around her. But the consistent yoga practice she developed had started to chip away at the walls she had built up to reveal a softer, more open side of herself. She slowly started to realize that she wanted a major career change – one where she could help people and truly make a difference. After years of practice and training, she is now a Yoga Therapist in her very own studio. Her life now feels light and happy.

Theresa remembers a moment during her Adaptive Yoga for Disabilities training where she watched her instructor align a paralyzed student into Tadasana on her back on the floor, and actually seeing the student experience the pose, even though she couldn’t feel it in the traditional sense. That moment affirmed for Theresa the power of the inner-body experience of yoga. .

We loved learning about Theresa! And we want to learn about you, too.

Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You

October 22nd, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Camille

Meet Camille.

Doctors told her she would have back pain for the rest of her life. That she would need to attend regular physical therapy sessions and wear a bulky, uncomfortable back brace for always. That's how it was supposed to go.

Camille attended many therapy sessions for her scoliosis, but shortly after each session the pain always came back. She wanted another solution and thought back to the few yoga classes she had tried years before and how they made her feel — relaxed, recharged. She decided to go back to yoga, more seriously now, with more intention. After developing a daily practice, her back and neck spasms completely went away.

While yoga gave Camille relief from her pain, it also taught her how to relax as her most authentic self. Yoga helps her feel the most like who she truly is — and breaks down the walls she puts up around herself keeping her from who she's supposed to be. To do that, Camille says they key is to relax.

“I can’t tell you how much I resisted “final relaxation” when I first started yoga. You have never seen anyone fidget about so much! I was attached to the idea that only action was worthwhile. In the end it finallyclicked that my Type A personality really, really needed to learn to switch off and relax. That relaxing is not 'doing nothing,' it’s actively doing a thing, a very valid thing that our body needs as much as food or water, and that is resting and recharging."

Camille is proud to be a young, African American female in the yoga world and looks forward to welcoming more yogis into an increasingly diverse community. We are all already connected, and this practice reveals and belongs to everyone.

We loved learning about Camille! And we’d love to learn about you, too. Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You

To learn more about Camille, check out her blog: www.cammieyogaom.blogspot.com

October 8th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Carla

Meet Carla.

As a high school teacher, Carla says that nothing gains you street cred as the ‘artsy, hipster’ teacher better than walking through the school quad with a yoga mat on your shoulder.

Carla uses yoga to help teach her students about handling anxiety. One of her favorite memories is when she canceled her 12th grade English class for a day and replaced it with yoga. Her students were in the midst of receiving college acceptance letters, as well as deferral and rejection letters. She could feel the tension and stress in the room – but teaching them some poses and watching them let go, be present, and go for it, really eased the anxiety of everyone in the room. She’ll never forget watching them help each other kick into handstand, and laugh as they wobbled in tree pose.

Teachers have their own favorite teachers, and Carla’s is her grandfather. While he didn’t teach her asana, he did teach her a lot about perspective and patience. His guidance combined with her yoga practice has changed the way Carla approaches work, relationships, and future goals. She admits that before yoga she was “Type-A-all-the-way”. Today she feels less brittle, and more giving – and feels comfortable at what she calls “Type B+”.

"Yoga helps me recognize when I'm inspired to give," Carla shared, "whether that's love, advice, comfort or something more concrete – and reminds me that I have the ability to act on that inspiration."

We loved learning about Carla! And we can’t wait to learn more about you. Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You.

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

October 1st, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Cristina

Meet Cristina.

Sitting behind a desk in a stressful job, Cristina found herself daydreaming about a different life. Her head kept wandering to her yoga practice. Thinking about that sound of sweat hitting the mat got her through those days. Then she saw her uncle lose his battle with cancer, she realized how short this precious life could be, and ultimately found the courage to quit her job and make her daydreams a reality.

Cristina never expected that yoga would inspire her to want to give so much to others. She has lost two aunts and her uncle to cancer, now her mother is currently fighting breast cancer for the second time – this is why Cristina wants to devote her time to running retreats for cancer patients and survivors. She wants to help them heal and realize how strong they are.

Cristina feels lucky that she has been able to have her two favorite companions by her side along the way: Noah and Jack. They come with her on every road trip through Ontario, standing guard during all of her yoga breaks. They are the inspiration behind her downward dog, as Noah and Jack are, in fact, Cristina's dogs.

We LOVED learning about Cristina! And we’d love to learn about you, too. Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You.

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka