A post about *Yoga Mats*

A post about *Yoga Mats*

A commonly asked question I get as an instructor is, "what kind of yoga mat do you recommend?"  Not all mats are created equal when it comes to stickiness, durability, quality of material.  This post will take a look at some popular yoga mats and hopefully be a helpful guide in your future mat purchases!

  • Manduka Yoga Mats (manduka.com)
    • Yoga Bliss uses the Manduka ProLite Yoga Mat ($82) for students to borrow.  This mat has moderate stickiness, 4.7 mm in thickness, comes in standard and extra long lengths, made of PVC (non-toxic/emissions-free).  I personally own 2 Prolite yoga mats and 1 Manduka Pro mat ($110) (6 mm thickness and 7.5 lbs) and am pretty happy with them!  They also have a lifetime guarantee.
    • Manduka Eko Yoga Mat ($88)  - made of rubber.  5 mm in thickness and stickiness.  Only negative is that after practicing on this mat you may smell like rubber and it's heavier to haul around!
  • Jade Yoga Mat (jadeyoga.com)
    • Harmony Mat ($75) - Made of rubber.  3/16" in thickness.  I own one of these mats as well, my only issue with Jade mats is that they wear down pretty quickly and the rubber mat is more porous than the Manduka one.  The mat is very sticky and has a nice feel/texture to it!  Also, don't leave it in the car or sun, because that will break down the mat quickly and dry it out.
  • Lululemon "Reversible Mat" $68 (lululemon.com)
    • Although I do not own this mat, I have seen many students use this mat in class.  Initially there is a "strong" smell that requires it to be aired out, however, this mat is VERY sticky.  If you have an issue with sweaty palms and feet, I recommend you check this mat out at the lululemon store!  
  • Lifeforme Mat
    • to be continued. . . . :) 

Musings on Ashtanga Primary Series

When our dear Yoga Bliss instructor Cynthia let me know her friend who studied extensively in India and teaches Ashtanga is interested in teaching at Yoga Bliss, I was ecstatic!  I have longed to formally study ashtanga/primary series under a teacher and it just hadn't happened due to timing, work, and location.  While I have been fortunate to have been steeped in various adaptations of ashtanga in what we call modern day vinyasa flow-- to study the traditional Ashtanga Primary series, and be led by a teacher who can help you develop was so exciting!  Enter in Braja Kishori!  If you haven't taken class with her yet, I highly recommend it!  Braja sings beautifully, holds a steady strong space for practice, challenges you, encourages you to take the next step, and helps you develop as a student!  

I have been creating space each week to take Braja's Wednesday morning, 9:30 AM Ashtanga Primary Series.  The traditional practice is no joke-- it is a journey into strength-- the amount of chaturanga dandasanas, jump throughs, and challenging and SCARY postures (headstand, chakrasana (backwards somersault)) yet it is attainable, with steadiness, patience, and faith that you can do it.  I have realized it doesn't matter how it looks from the outside-- I just have to show up on my mat and keep putting in the work with patience, and with time I have seen growth in my practice!  Baby steps. . and it's coming along!  

The Ashtanga Primary Series translates to "Yoga Therapy" and is meant to cleanse the digestive system, strengthen your mental endurance, and transform any mind chatter and doubt into a steady peacefulness and inner faith.  The practitioner takes on different shapes seen in nature. . such as tortoise and fish.  As I have been practicing, I realize a new world is opening in my body and mind. 

If you're interested in Ashtanga Primary Series, come check out Braja's led class offered on Wednesdays at 9:30 AM and select Saturdays at 2:00 PM.  

See you on the mat! :)

Rocket Yoga . . time for take off!

Settling back into home life after a 5 day teacher training intensive in Rocket Yoga w/ David Kyle! What a week!  What is Rocket Yoga?  Why did I decide to do this training?  Well, initially I was TERRIFIED of attending. . I had signed up months ago, and realized I couldn't back out days before the training.  It felt like a HUGE WAVE was coming towards me and I had to start paddling and learning how to surf, otherwise I would drown! What makes Rocket Yoga so unique and fun is that it empowers students to go for postures and variations they may not otherwise incorporate and the freedom and creativity to do so.  To tap into an inner strength so that what seems impossible becomes possible!  And really, once you're able to handstand with ease. . it's no big deal, right?  But the JOURNEY to handstand, the breathing, the focus, the falling, learning how to feel your body in space, the struggle, the ease, it's all apart of the journey and that, to me, is the best part!  In this training, I realized it is a journey of inner strength -- of going for postures that terrify me, where there is grit, and it's not necessarily pretty, there's grunting, there's sweat, there's a feeling of I can't do this, but I will and I can. . and after 75-90 minutes of deep breathing, focus, sweat, you let it go. . and you may notice somethings have shifted. . you're in a new space of awareness, of strength, of peace. . and that's why I was drawn to do something out of my comfort zone.  

In Rocket, there's an ebb and flow of stimulation, of energizing inversions to flush the body with fresh prana and energy with grounding postures such as hip openers and forward bends.  It is rooted in traditional ashtanga methodology of tristana (breath, energetic locks, and gaze point).  This tristana method is the heart of ashtanga vinyasa, of vinyasa flow, and of rocket yoga.   You practice the ujjayi pranayama (breath with sound) to create full, deep, cleansing breaths, engagement of the pelvic floor and navel (called the bandhas), and your gaze point to one steady place to produce a state of inner focus and concentration.  From that space, handstands, presses, and arm balances and deeper forward bends and back bends are possible!  In each class, there's space to explore techniques for handstands, forearm stands, crow posture and variations.  

Stay tuned for more info on a rocket yoga class coming to Yoga Bliss!  We will start with a Rocket 1, and with time incorporate Rocket 2 and 3!  All levels will be welcome!  

Beautiful Quote on Mandala Power from Shiva

"When I first began studying yoga in 1986, the model of a teacher at the head of the room and a square of students following was the strict norm often with masterful, charismatic, authoritarian teachers leading the way. Times are changing. I am inspired by the power of gathering in a circle as a model of inclusiveness. The circle can release hierarchy and often more bring more engagement in the process. And now more than ever we need to come together in a way that honors individuality within the collective pulse. The mandala invites community. The Tantric revolution from which yoga asanas emerged was radical in continuing the inclusive model of equal men, women and all backgrounds. The circle invites embodiment and participation.  Turning towards each other is a vulnerable openness. There is no place to hide and yet all are held by the center point - the hub which is greater than all, the open space. In the flow of yoga, as we begin to breathe and move together while simultaneously finding our own center, the circle becomes natural and free." -Shiva Rea

First Post / Prana Mandala Vinyasa Experience!

First Post / Prana Mandala Vinyasa Experience!

Excited to be sharing my first Yoga Bliss blog post!  Just finished a wonderful 4 day immersion with Shiva Rea in Washington, DC.  I have been studying with Shiva since 2008 and what I love about her style is that her sequencing is intelligent, nourishing, circulating, and so well balanced.  Shiva offers energetic vinyasa with roots in ayurveda, tantra, sacred movement arts, poetry, and more!  For this training/immersion, we practiced in a mandala form/circular form in the beautiful All Souls Unitarian Church.  We began with walking in a huge circle and stopped in each of the four directions (north, south, east, west) and practiced prostrations for peace.  This set the tone for each day's training-- a movement meditation that led to a natural meditation once we settled on our mat.  We explored foundational flows, elemental flows (earth, water, fire, air), and chakra flows.  

Some key ingredients for a great prana flow practice:

  • Bhava - translates as "feeling state" or "feeling mind".  This is the quality you bring to your practice (the way a musician plays their instrument, the way a dancer moves).  The quality of bhava evokes a feeling/ a vibe to your flow (such as devotion, love, peace, strength, compassion, humility).
  • Music - music (typically without lyrics) helps entrain the brain and heart waves and syncopates the class rhythm for the flow of practice.  Deep, rhythmic beats are good for earth and fire practices.  Soft, flute music is great for water and air practices. 

Come to Sabina's classes this week and experience practicing in a mandala form on your mat!