June 18th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Danielle

This is Danielle. We often like to help tell the story of our Yogi of the Week, but we have no words as beautiful as hers. This is her story:

I remember my very first yoga class. I hid in the back because I was afraid the teacher might ask me to leave or tell me that I couldn't do yoga. At home, I practiced with videos with no one around to watch. I came up with my own modifications. In my first class, I didn't know if I should take my prosthetic leg on or off. I didn't even buy a mat because I didn't want to get my hopes up. I didn't think of myself as a person who could practice yoga. Now, when I go into class five times a week, I always remember that first class and the limits I almost set on myself.

Diagnosed with cancer at fifteen, my leg was amputated when I was sixteen. When I returned to cross country and track, the pounding hurt my residual limb and felt too rough on my body. Four lung surgeries and a second round of chemotherapy later, I was overweight and weaker than I had ever been. I kept acting in college and after I graduated but I didn't think I could make a career out of it because of my body. I wrote but felt isolated and alone. Finally, I decided I didn't want to wait around for doctors to determine what kind of life I would be able to live. My mom and husband helped me do research and radically alter my lifestyle. Three years later, I'm still in remission. When I start to worry "what if" about my next scan or the success of my screenplay, I remember to be here in this moment.

Yoga has taught me to live in uncertainty. As a creative person, I used to be devastated by the cycle of acceptance and rejection. I'd put so much of my heart into a project and get so giddy when an agent requested a full manuscript; only to have my hopes dashed by rejection. Yoga helps me find peace now. Peace gives me the strength to keep editing and reapplying. During the highs and lows, I always have my mat. Yoga reminds me that daily practice is more important than end results.

I believe disabled people deserve an opportunity to tell our stories. Mainstream media has such a narrow definition of what is beautiful, healthy, and sexy. In a world where so many people are sick from a lifestyle of fast food and high-stress living, everyone has a million excuses for why they can't change. I aspire to be a role model to people of all abilities. You are never too old, too sick, too broken to begin your journey toward wellness.

We are incredibly inspired by Danielle, and we feel so grateful to be able to share her story. Do you have a story you’d like to tell? Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page:

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.


June 13th, 2012

The Value Of (Dis)Connection

By Eka Ekong

It happened again. While teaching and circulating around the room, I saw the blue afterglow reflecting off the floor. One of my students was texting. I walked over and in a very stern, yet graceful way told them that this was not allowed. I felt like a parent catching a child with a dirty magazine. The response, rather than being apologetic, was indignant. For a moment, I thought a Jedi mind trick was being played on me: “Oh, excuse me, it’s my fault. Please text away. We'll just be over here, practicing yoga...” I quickly came back to reality.

I’m noticing this is not a one-time occurrence. I’ve seen it while in yoga classes as teacher and student, as people walk around the city, faces buried in their phones, bumping into objects like bats, or even two people at dinner, their eyes locked on what’s in their hands rather than each other.

We are becoming more present in our relationship with technology rather than the present moment.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate technology, and enjoy it (as I type away on my i-whatever). I owned an Atari, and typed what seemed like endless jargon in grade school ( Messages were taken via answering machines, and if you were a hipster of those days, you had a beeper AND a car phone the size of your forearm.

I graduated from flip phone to smart phone, PC to Mac. I geek out on TED talks and software upgrades. I tweet, I Facebook... However, there is a time and a place for everything. While I enjoy chocolate in my peanut butter, I don't like texting in my yoga class. Perhaps I’m old school (and not in that Will Ferrell/Luke Wilson kind of way).

There is something to be said for taking time to be completely unavailable to the outside world, and wholeheartedly available to your Self. When we take a break from external technology we can really get down to knowing what makes us tick. We can learn our patterns, our reactions, and the truth of our own soul.

I know being with Self can be scary. There aren’t any status updates, witty hashtags or foursquare check-ins. It can seem like a solo expedition into unknown terrain that you think you have packed inadequately for. You might feel like you're missing out on something in these moments of quiet and self-exploration. In actuality, we’re missing out on the greatest gifts if we don’t. There is a treasure within our hearts that doesn’t require validation from our job, our relationships, our belongings, amount of “likes” or re-tweets. A light beyond all sorrow and insecurity. We need to take a timeout to drop into this deeper understanding. As we drop out to drop back in, we become more aware of our divine nature and cultivate more presence in every situation.

If you think about it, when we were born, most of our mothers were hooked up to a computer. When we pass (although I wish it otherwise), many of us will be hooked up to a computer.

Savor each breath in between, whether it’s on your mat or off. Look up when you’re outside, basking in the greatest science of all, Nature. Treasure each precious moment you spend with your loved ones. Take none of it for granted.

Unplug to tap into your inner wisdom and the Now. This is true connection and far better than any text or app.

My Manduka helps me practice being present.

What does your Manduka help you practice?

June 11th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Sherrie

Meet Sherrie.

Sherrie is a yogi who truly feels inspired to do her best on and off the mat.

Her most memorable moment on the mat is when she successfully performed her very first arm balance – crow pose. She used to come to class unable to get into the pose, and would even tell herself she’d never be able to do it. One day, she was able to hold both of her feet up and prove herself wrong. Since then her mantra has been “never say never”.

Off the mat, Sherrie is a Registered Nurse. During her studies, she had the opportunity to serve lunch to the homeless at The Midnight Mission as well as administer Flu Vaccines at a church in Downtown LA. Sherrie is a believer in Karma yoga – something you can practice every day by doing something for others without receiving anything in return.

Yoga is Sherrie’s sanctuary that brings her peace and enlightenment: “It is such an important part of my life that it flows through my blood. I place my trust in yoga to clear my mind and focus on the present.”

We loved learning about Sherrie. And we want to learn more about you!

Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page:

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.


June 5th, 2012

Practice With Briohny And Dice In Thailand!

Join Manduka Ambassador Briohny Smyth and Dice Iida-Klein for a series of workshop sessions in Bangkok held exclusively with Absolute Yoga Thailand. Dice and Briohny love being upside down in an inversion, playing with arm balances, as well as transitions between the two!
Their classes are fun and rigorous with a focus on body awareness and alignment, in order to help yogis practice in an intelligent ad safe way.

Workshop A: Intro to Flight
Workshop B: Asana Clinic
Workshop C: Backbends-Open your heart deeply and safely

When: July 11-12 & 26-29, 2012
Where: Absolute Yoga Thailand
For more information:

June 4th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Gil

Meet Gil.

Gil is living his dream. For 7 years, he and his wife have wanted to open a community-based yoga center. They recently made that dream a reality by celebrating the Grand Opening of Breathe Yoga Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

As a longtime competitive athlete, Gil knew that there was something more for him than training and pushing his body to the limit. He also needed balance, and something that would be restorative and nourishing. He found that in yoga and has now dedicated his life to serving others through teaching.

Gil believes that we are all connected. He believes that our actions influence the world we live in and we all have the unlimited power to make positive impacts in our communities and this wonderful planet we call home. He is so grateful as to have landed in the supportive community of Norfolk, Virginia, and is excited for the road ahead.

We loved meeting Gil, and we need to meet you too. This is your community, and this is the YOU year. Manduka is on a mission to get to know everyone who makes this yoga community so vibrant, and so real. Because we all have something to learn from you — about how we see ourselves, or approach our practice, or make yoga mats.

Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page:

Every week, we'll share the story of another real yogi. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here, or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.