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  • So You Want To Open A Yoga Studio...

    Meet our office hero: Lara Estrada. She's a full-time Manduka employee who opened a yoga studio of her very own last year. Read all about how she turned her dream into reality -- or better yet, visit Yoga Bliss in Los Angeles and see for yourself what a little love and a lot of hard work can make. 

    Lara Estrada at Yoga Bliss Studio

    Can you describe your role at Manduka?

    I’m an International Sales Rep. I work to bring our high-quality Manduka products to yoga studios and retailers all over the world!

    When did you first start practicing yoga?

    I first started practicing yoga in 2007. One of my friends invited me to come to class with her after work, and I fell in love! I grew up taking dance classes and playing softball -- but had never tried yoga. The lyrical flow of vinyasa felt amazing and reminded me of dance.

    When did you realize you wanted to be a studio owner?

    I completed my teacher training in 2009. At that point I knew it was something I wanted to pursue but my career goals have evolved so much since then -- always in an organic way. At first, I thought the ideal situation would be to work an office job part-time and teach yoga part-time. But I quickly realized that I wanted my work life to be fully immersed in yoga.

    I started thinking about opening a yoga studio around 2012 and then came on at Manduka shortly after. I continued teaching yoga at studios and privately. It was amazing for all of my work to revolve around yoga, and to be a part of the best yoga brand in the world, but I still yearned to create a business of my own.

    When my realtor called me and said she found the perfect space for me (literally down the street from my apartment), I knew it was the right opportunity to take a chance on the business of my dreams. Yoga Bliss finally opened in 2015.

    Lara Estrada at Yoga Bliss Studio

    What was the very first step in opening your studio after you decided?

    I put together a very basic outline of a business plan to research the financial side. I considered costs for construction, equipment, retail, and leasing. I thought out everything I could:  class schedules, pricing, pay structures for instructors, marketing strategy, workshops, and events. I would work on all of this for fun, but I took it very seriously. I wrote the majority of my website content, registered my business name, reserved a website domain, and had my brother create a logo for me in 2012. (Yoga Bliss didn’t open until 2015.)

    I wanted all of these things to be taken care of so that there would be as few barriers to entry when I found the right space. I also saved all the money I earned from teaching, and would consistently put away a part of my paycheck for my future business.

    Yoga Bliss has such a bright beautiful vibe. How did you concept the space?

    I love Bali, tropical locations, and the ocean. I wanted to capture the warmth and kindness of the people I’ve met in my life and around the world. My favorite color is bright teal. It’s the color of my phone case, art pieces in my home, and often my nails… So naturally, I wanted the studio to be this color. It’s a calming and peaceful color too, which is perfect for yoga.

    A lot of the small décor pieces – like the baby golden Buddha statue – were things I had in my room. I have a beautiful painting by my friend Rhonna Del Rio in the lobby. All of her artwork is inspired by her own practice, and I knew I wanted her creativity in the studio. When people who know me come for the first time, they always say, “This space is so you!” I just tried to bring in a lot of things I love.

    Lara Estrada at Yoga Bliss Studio

    What were some of the challenges about opening Yoga Bliss?

    The most challenging thing in the beginning was making the decision to sign the lease and go through with my business plans. It was such a huge financial investment and there were a lot of unknowns on how things could turn out as a first-time business owner. I am proud to say that I opened the studio completely on my own. That being said, I had to save a lot of money, run a Kickstarter campaign, and get a small business loan before opening. I had to take a leap of faith that the business I had envisioned would thrive. This was the most daunting part of it all, but my intuition told me I had to do it!

    And what's difficult now that the studio is up and running?

    Now the challenge is in managing my own time and personal energy. I still work full-time at Manduka while teaching many of the classes at my studio and managing every aspect of the business. I am busier than I have ever been!

    There are days when I’m at the studio at 6:30am, I go through a full day of work at the Manduka office, and head back to the studio until 9:00pm. If I’m not physically at the studio or office, I always have other things to do, like responding to emails and phone calls, planning events, and keeping social media updated. I am literally working all the time! It makes me really value any time I get to spend with family, friends, and loved ones. I also value any time that I get to spend by myself!

    What is your favorite thing about being a studio owner?

    It’s amazing to watch a community grow from something I am so passionate about and worked so hard for. When I see full classes, happy yogis, and connections being made, I know that all the hard work is worth it. The studio recently celebrated its one year anniversary on October 10th. I remember in the beginning, there would be less than a handful of people in each class. It’s amazing that we now have so many regular practitioners, classes and workshops getting full, and we still get new people at the studio every day.

    What advice would you give to yoga teachers thinking about opening up your own studio?

    Talk to other studio owners. This was the most helpful thing for me! When I was getting closer to opening Yoga Bliss, I met with other studio owners that I worked for or had taken classes from. They were all so open, encouraging, and inspiring. They answered any questions I had and told me the things they wished they had known when they first opened their studios. I still reach out to them whenever I have questions and find them to be the greatest source of knowledge.

    And what about some life advice for anyone who wants to make their dream come true?

    If you are consistently working towards your goals and taking your dreams seriously, you can create a business and life from anything that you are passionate about. Things will always work out in their own perfect timing if your heart is in the right place. One of my favorite quotes by Paulo Coelho is “When you want something, all the Universe conspires to make it happen.” There are too many people in this world who say they want to do something and never do it. Don’t be one of those people! Believe in the power of your thoughts and actions to create the life you desire.

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  • 10 Self Care Rituals for New Mamas

    Kaitlin Coghill

    With the birth of your baby came the birth of a new woman. She looks similar to you but more tired. She's a little less carefree. She has the same passions as before, but they have all (temporarily) moved down on the ladder to make room for a tiny human.

    This is where self-care comes in. Really, a woman should be taken care of by her friends and family after giving birth, but society has a long way to go in honoring new mothers. Many women are left to care for their new child and healing body all on their own. If this is your situation, or even if you are lucky enough to have lots of support from your village, read on for some very simple self-care tips to ease your transition into motherhood. After all, baby can't thrive if mama isn't thriving too!

    Kaitlin Coghill

    1. Embrace Essential Oils

    I have found essential oils to be a lifesaver. Diffusing them in our living space after a cranky morning always eases tension, and applying them to my wrists and behind my ears with a roller allows me to breathe in Peace (that’s literally the name of the oil blend) throughout the day. Oils have a variety of healing properties, including antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal, stress-relieving, mood-balancing, etc. My go-tos for the postpartum period include lavender, chamomile, frankincense, ylang-ylang, wild orange, lemon, peppermint and these four doTERRA blends: Balance, Serenity, Elevation, and Peace.

    2. Epsom Salt Foot Soak

    Epsom Salt baths are wonderful ways to eliminate toxins from your body, soothe your soul and up your magnesium levels. A simple alternative to a traditional Epsom salt bath is an Epsom salt foot soak. Simply boil a big pot of water, remove from heat and allow the water to cool until it’s just hot enough to be effective without burning you. While the water is cooling, add three-to-five drops of each of your preferred oils to a ½ cup of Epsom salts. Mix together and add to the pot when the water is at your ideal temperature (be sure to allow enough room for the water to rise when you place your feet in). Soak and breathe in the aromas of the oils for 15 minutes. Allow yourself to truly do nothing more than enjoy the warmth of the water, the feeling of your softening skin, and the peacefulness of the moment.

    3. Read a Book That Isn’t About Motherhood

    A great way to take a “break” when you can’t really take a break is to read a book that isn’t about being a mom or raising a baby because sometimes a mental escape is just as beneficial as physically getting out of the house. I advise doing this instead of attempting to wind down with television or movies. Reading is much more relaxing at the end of a long day.

    4. Ignore the Clock

    Going with the ebb and flow of caring for a newborn is much better for your sanity and health than setting timers and staring at clocks. If your baby is hungry, feed them. If your baby is tired, help them sleep. If your baby isn’t tired, don’t force them to sleep. Take advantage of the times they are awake to smile at them, talk to them and read them books. They are never too young for storytelling and love to hear your voice. 

    Kaitlin Coghill

    5. Spend Afternoons Outdoors

    One of the best things you can do to care for yourself is to get outside at least once a day to be a part of the earth you are deeply connected to. Be sure to avoid “smart” electronics and either read or truly immerse yourself within your surroundings. No need to do anything fancy or active unless you want to; focus on just being.

    6. Maintain Simplicity in Your Home

    New parents are often overwhelmed by all of the “things” they have for their baby. Don’t feel pressured to keep everything. Whatever doesn’t you bring you 100% joy or have a very useful purpose, donate or gift to another family. Having only what you need and love in your home makes the biggest difference when trying to lessen the invisible weight of parenthood on your shoulders.

    7. Make Time for Your Yoga Practice

    Having a baby doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you used to do before another person joined the daily routine. After all, newborns are notorious for staying in one place. Set them down near you in a safe space so that you can include them in your yoga practice at home, or sign up for a postpartum yoga class that allows your baby to be with you. In doing so you’ll be showing them what it looks like to love and care for your body - a valuable lesson to learn at any age. The best part, though, is that you will feel like you again, and that’s important to do regularly.

    Kaitlin Coghill

    8. Minimize Screen Time

    Designate a place in your home to set your electronic(s) during the times when your mama role is taking priority. In not overwhelming your mind with all of the information contained in social media, you care for your well-being. In being fully present with your baby, you deepen your bond with them and slowly rid yourself of feelings of doubt. Less screen time also means less time comparing your life to others’. When you actually live your life, you notice all of the things about it that are wonderful and stop thinking about all of the things you wish were different.

    9. Make Soup

    Soup is a deliciously healthy way to care for your body, especially if you take the time to make it yourself. Wear your baby in a carrier as you wash and chop the vegetables. Sing to them as you move about the kitchen, swaying and supporting their tiny head. Pause to kiss them and tell them you love them.

    To discover soups that are perfect for new mamas, read The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother by Heng Ou, Amely Greeven and Marisa Belger. This book is full of wisdom and recipes that cater to new mothers and the restoration of their health after giving birth.

    10. Call Somebody

    During the days that feel a bit lonely, nothing is more helpful than speaking to another adult. Whether it be your partner, your parents, your siblings or your friends, call someone and either ask them to come over or to simply talk to you for a bit. Using your voice to have actual conversations that bring you joy and comfort is another great way of reminding yourself that you’re still a person that others love and care about.

    Remember, motherhood is a gift that you’ve been blessed with for a reason. You are still you, you deserve all that you have and you deserve to be cared for. Do what makes you feel good and helps to maintain your overall health. You and your baby will be all the better for it.

    Kaitlin Coghill & FamilyKaitlin Coghill is the founder of  Be Always Blooming Birth Services, where she works as a CAPPA-certified childbirth educator and doula. She is also mother to two sweet girls, Lorelei and Isla. Kaitlin is currently taking on doula clients in addition to creating online and in-person childbirth and postpartum classes, which will launch in the coming months. Visit her website to sign up for her mama/baby centered email list.

    Connect with Kaitlin:
    Website // Instagram // Facebook // Email

    Portrait Photography by Agostina DiMartino

  • A Bracelet That Gives Back

    This month, we're celebrating women's health! Why? Because we appreciate every chaturanga, downward dog, and savasana as time spent to connect with who we are, the women we came from, and the many things we can accomplish together as a community.

    In that spirit, we introduce our latest collaboration with Mala Collective.

    Manduka + Mala Collective

    The Love & Strength Bracelet reminds us to care for ourselves and trust in our intuition. These bracelets are handmade in Bali with three different kinds of beads:

    Rose Quartz: Opens the heart to love, brings deep inner healing, and promotes self-love.
    White Moonstone: The gemstone for "new beginnings". Increases intuition, brings harmony, and calms emotions.
    Rudraksha: Represents clarity and awareness. Releases negative thoughts.

    Mala Collective and Manduka Collaboration

    Ten dollars from each bracelet sold in the month of October 2016 will be donated the Susan G. Komen® Foundation. This year alone, it is estimated that there will be over 40,000 deaths due to breast cancer. The Susan G. Komen® Foundation hopes to reduce this number by half over the next decade. Their work funds research, advocacy and public policy initiatives to find a cure.

    This moment, we're giving it all for her. Give back by getting yours here.

    Follow Manduka on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more stories of women's health this month. 

  • The Art of Competition: Q&A with Junior Bryant

    Football season is back! To celebrate, we met with former NFL defensive lineman Junior Bryant at Sweat Yoga in Santa Monica. After a serious neck injury cut his playing career on the San Francisco 49ers short, he’s transitioned his competitive spirit into the world of finance, and even into his personal yoga practice.


    Junior Bryant at Sweat Yoga - Manduka Blog

    How did you get started in football?

    I started playing football when I was in eighth grade. I was fortunate enough to get a college scholarship to Notre Dame. From there I got a chance to sign with 49ers and spent ten years on their roster. I was on the practice squad first as a free agent and made my way along the path until I became a starter. Unfortunately, I got injured before I was ready to be done. Continue reading

  • Three Block Headstand by Jennifer Elliott

    Yes, getting into headstand can be intimidating. You’re not alone if you’re looking around your yoga class thinking, How will I ever do that? Invert your perception with this exclusive three block headstand sequence from Jennifer Elliott, designed for both beginner and seasoned yogis, to safely support your neck and back as you build your foundation for a rock star headstand:

    I tend to avoid headstands anymore because of neck issues I have resulting from a car accident.As a teacher, I’ve found that most people have trouble setting up the foundation of headstand properly, and put themselves at risk of injury. For those reasons I love this version with 3 blocks and the wall. Personally, I can get into headstand without aggravating my neck, and as a teacher I feel confident that I’m setting up my students for a successful inversion.

    Three Block Headstand Continue reading

  • 10 Minutes to Unwind from the Grind

    A Labor Day Sequence with Rod Stryker

    Rod Stryker

    Let’s be real– you’ve earned this Labor Day. Your hard work deserves an extra day to recharge, get clear and most importantly, relax. Thanks to this exclusive sequence from Rod Stryker, you only need 10 minutes to unwind from the 40-hour workweek grind. Continue reading

  • Mindful Yoga Apparel

    Vote your values with your choices. Ashley Turner speaks her mind on mindful yoga apparel. See intention in action in our new fall collection.

  • 10 Yogi Reads Submitted By You

    Your Ultimate Yoga Reading List

    We asked and you shared! Here are just a few of the highlights from the many wonderful book suggestions you offered to us on Facebook. Together they comprise the ultimate yoga reading list. Feeling extra studious with fall approaching? Download a PDF of the full list of submitted titles here Continue reading

  • An Asana Sequence with Chelsey Korus

    Feelings of doubt, fear or any negative emotion can make us feel shifty and ungrounded. But within you exists a stronger, more powerful presence, represented by the mountain mudra. This sequence is designed to renew your focus and recognize the unshakeable mountain within you, so you can clear the path to become your most authentic self and feel restored to a place of feeling grounded and confident.

    Let’s begin.

    Start in downward facing dog. Take a deep breath in and a full breath out. You can begin to peddle the knees and settle into your stillness.

    Chelsey Korus Continue reading

  • Meet Our Team: Customer Care

    Manduka Employees

    Calling all yogis! Manduka is looking for a customer care associate in our Los Angeles headquarters. No automated phone menus here. Our team helps customers deepen their practice with every call and email. Must love wearing leggings to work, taking plank breaks, and sharing snacks. Meet some of our crew and hear their take on life at Manduka.

    Continue reading