Product Review Thursday: Manduka and JadeYoga Mats

All opinions are my own. I was not paid to endorse products.

Readers, if you are anything like me, you have bought exercise equipment before. I personally have bought a lot of equipment and products. Whether that be mats, weights, running belts, or anything else you need, there are a million products out there. Today, I will be reviewing Manduka Yoga Mats and Towels and JadeYoga Mats from my experience with the products.

When I first started practicing, I literally bought a yoga mat from Target to just get me started. I always think it is best practice to not spend a lot of money on anything new. When I gradually advanced, and knew yoga was a priority to me, I graduated to the Manduka mat. My Manduka mat was a pretty slick on the surface, and did have a squishy feel to it. Since the surface was slippery, I also needed to purchase a Yogitoe Towel (also by Manduka.) The picture below shows my yoga set up for about three years. Orange Manduka mat, blue Yogitoe towel. (Also featured in the pic is a Lokai bracelet, I love mine!).

.IMG_1201

This yoga set up, in my opinion, is not a cheap one. The mat is around 80 dollars, the Yogitoe towel is about $68, and that’s not including the other towels I purchased to not have to do laundry all the time. Yogis, remember to clean your mats and towels! On a positive note, the products last forever. By covering the Manduka mat, I did not wear out the surface and it is still squishy to this day. Its a great mat for joints as well. The Yogitoe towel is great for travel yoga since traveling with a mat can be cumbersome.

I have since graduated to a JadeYoga mat, and I’m absolutely in love with it. It’s a thinner mat with no slippery surface. The mat itself is sticky enough to keep hands and feet aligned. There is no need for extra towels, unless you need them. It’s also a very light-weight mat, made from all environmentally friendly materials. The picture below shows my current yoga set up.

IMG_1219

Readers, I would love to know what products work for you! You can also find me on Twitter @ScrappyYoga!

Chaturanga Epic Fail

Please focus your attention to my shoulder stretch in the picture. After ten years, this is still how far I can go in this shoulder stretch. I have always had tight shoulders and trapezius muscles.  My shoulders and trapezius muscles are sore a lot of the time, and even get pulled. As you can image, this can make multiple poses hard to achieve even Chaturanga.

As a new yogi, I started to learn Sun Salutations, and always wanted to get the perfect Chaturanga.  I would place my hands perfectly, middle finger facing forward and fingers spread wide. Still, Chaturanga was not happening. I figured it was my tight shoulders and trapezius muscles not allowing me to bend my elbows back. Fast forward ten years later, I learned to modify my practice with Knees-Chin-Chest. Now, I am all for modifying for what the body needs, but I knew that I was strong enough for Chaturanga, but I could never bend my elbows backward into my rib cage. I could never be in the right alignment for Chaturanga.

I had let my expectation go that I would ever achieve Chaturanga. Until one morning class when the yoga instructor stated that my shoulders were falling forward even when I was modifying my Chaturanga. I was crushed. All my hard work was still not paying off. Luckily, it happened to be a special event weekend at the studio, where a 1:1 class with an instructor was offered. I signed up immediately.

I prepared myself for the private lesson mentally. I was going to walk in with no expectations of ever getting Chaturanga correct. We warmed our muscles with Sun Salutations, and the instructor saw right away I was falling forward. Then, the instructor told me to turn my hands outward in order for my elbows to go straight back. I looked at her cautiously, believing that this would never happen. I placed my hands on my mat, outward, and went for the Chaturanga. Miraculously, the hand placement worked! I now can fully practice Chaturanga.

Maybe calling this post “Chaturanga Epic Fall” is a little harsh, but I do laugh at myself for not trying to move my hand position for the last ten years.

Readers, I would love to know your thoughts! Anyone have similar experiences?

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

 

You Will Fall in Yoga

So, Readers, let’s all be honest. We have all watched those yoga videos from yogis trying to stand on their heads and fall over usually scaring the cat half to death . We might have even laughed at it. I will admit it, I have laughed before. Then I went to my usual yoga class and it changed my view.

My yoga instructors usually say it’s fine to fall since it’s just yoga. And I believe this as well, but I never really understood the meaning of “falling in yoga”. One of my favorite instructors explained it in class. She stated,” If you don’t fall, you won’t learn. When you were little and you were learning how to walk, you fell. And you got back up, and fell again. It’s a process.”

That really clicked with me, and I thought about it. I asked myself what sport or activity did I ever master without falling? I can ride a bike, roller blade, ice skate, ski, skateboard and they all have one thing in common: I fell (a lot). I wasn’t afraid to fall as a kid, so why would I care now? I have been practicing for years, but I have lost the child-like quality of falling. Certain poses that I would love to master, I  have been stopping myself.

So, I have decided to let myself fall. I’m strong enough to catch myself, so what’s the worst that can happen? Click on this video to view me trying to achieve Pincha Mayurasana https://youtu.be/ifVNXbBljrI.

Readers, I would love to hear your thoughts!

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

 

Practicing Yoga with your Significant Other

My fiance and I are getting ready for our wedding. Now starts the ceremonial “shredding for the wedding” diets and workouts. My fiance S. had mentioned that he might want to try some yoga. Since I am always willing to have him join in any class, I was excited to show him what yoga was all about.

I brought him to a Saturday class at Just Breathe Yoga at Rivermark. It’s a 75 minute class, and I knew it would be a great introduction. I gave him one of my old mats and a towel, and we positioned ourselves in the back of the class. What I have learned over the years from people is that everyone is different when approached with a community class. I have always been a person not afraid to try classes alone and I usually position myself near the front. S. wanted to be in the back so I joined him.  We sat there giggling for a little while, just enjoying the quiet until class started.

The class started to get into our first Vinyasa sequence, and I knew this class was going to be hard. S. was holding up like an experienced yogi, modifying when he needed and drinking water. We got through the class, sweating together. Even some laughter.

When we walked out of the class, we were both on endorphin rushes. We had enjoyed our time together, and it was a lot of fun to practice with a significant other. As the yoga instructor said,” It’s fun to practice with someone you love”. As I sat in reflection of the class, I was happy that we enjoyed the experience together so much. Being an only child, I always tried classes or anything new by myself. I finally have someone to share my experiences with.

Readers, what are your experiences with community classes?

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

 

 

 

The Quest for the Best Yoga Clothes

All opinions are my own and was not paid to write my content

I have been a work out clothes hoarder for years now. I always felt that to get into a sport or an activity, I needed to look the part. I’m sure I have spent thousands of dollars in that last ten years on running, biking, and yoga clothes. Most of the time, I would buy clothes that weren’t perfect, and I would hate them in a couple of months. This is how I got so much clothing. I have always been searching for the best yoga clothes.

In the last couple of years, I made the conscience decision to cut back and practice yoga in the clothes that I have, not run out to get new apparel all the time. Well, the time came that my yoga clothes started to fall apart, and then I remembered Fabletics.

We have all seen the commercials, and Kate Hudson looks fabulous in all the clothes. I thought is might be just a joke that the clothes were of high quality at affordable prices. So, I thought I would give it a try.

The first thing that happened when I signed up is I received an offer for an outfit for only $25. I was in heaven! I was so excited. I chose the Oceanside Pullover and the Salar Capri Pant. Then, I decided to sign up to be a VIP. Here is the catch, a VIP member receives selections each month to purchase. The VIP member needs to skip the month to not get a charge. As long as you are on top of your account, this shouldn’t be a problem. This time I ordered a whole yoga outfit called the Girabaldi. It consisted of the Aviana Top, Salar Legging and Maya Sports Bra.

Everyday I watched the package tracker online. I was so excited to finally try this brand. The day finally arrived to get my clothes, and guess what? They were amazing! Everything I always wanted in clothes. They are figure flattering, soft and was great in yoga class. I’m very impressed, and cannot stop telling all my yogi friends about them.

What other brands of yoga clothing do you love Readers? I would love to know!

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

The Oakland Athletics (Yoga Edition)

I know what you are thinking Reader. You are saying to yourself, ” Isn’t this a blog about yoga and balance?” Well, it is about yoga and balance, but this Scrappy Yogi also happens to be a huge Oakland A’s fan. And this week opened baseball season, so naturally I have to post about it: in my own Scrappy Yogi way.

In yoga, my instructors always talk about how your practice is a journey. Each day your practice can and will be different. You will be able to do handstand one day, but completely fall the next day. As I was practicing yoga on Saturday, I was not able to get into Crow Pose, a pose I have been able to do for a while now. I reflected on the journey my instructors talk about, and then I thought about my Oakland A’s.

A little background if you do not know about the Oakland A’s. They are the small market baseball team in the Bay Area. According to SportTrac, The 2016 Oakland A’s have $76, 278,732 to spend on players this year. Now, compare that to the San Francisco Giants amount of $170,414, 943 and you will see the problem. You can also read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis for more historical context. 

I’m a believer in trying to have fun in life. I hope most people are. Oakland A’s games are so much fun for me. I love going to The Coliseum, and being part of the game. And as an Oakland A’s fan, you are definitely part of the game. Whether it’s witnessing Reddick being Spider-Man, to booing the rival pitcher to throw off their concentration, or Ron Washington throwing foul balls into the stands, you are part of it. And every fan is different. Here is a list of my fandom rituals:

  1. Must attend Fanfest
  2. All non-work attire is some sort of A’s T-Shirt/Sweatshirt
  3. ESPN app is always notifying me with team updates
  4. Must watch the movie Moneyball before season starts
  5. Social media logos are Oakland A’s logos
  6. Watch or attend as many games as humanly possible
  7. Re-tweet @Athletics or players tweets

When I sat in reflection, I started to understand why I am such a big fan of the Oakland A’s. Every season is a new journey. We start in April ready to play, along the way, there will always be bumps in the road. In yoga, some weeks are better than others. Players get hurt, some days you get on base, hit home runs, and your defense is stellar. Sometimes, you fall over in yoga class. It’s a journey, so enjoy it.

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practicing Yoga Daily

Just breathe. Days can be unpredictable and full of frenetic energy.  Within the four corners of my yoga mat, I am free to decompress from my day, rid the energy from my body and finally breathe. I will be honest though. I have never really practiced daily yoga, and I never have been good at home practice. My yoga schedule would usually consist of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, depending on the week. In short, I wasn’t consistent with my schedule. To add, I would have an excuse not to increase my practice more than four times a week. Below are my list of excuses:

  • My day is too busy
  • I’m too sore ( I never risk injury but you can modify in yoga)
  • Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid marathons
  • Video Games-mainly Mario Kart or Bubble Witch Saga
  • Too tired from my day
  • I already practiced 4 days this week, and that’s good enough

Tired of my own excuses and wanting to commit to daily practice, I challenged myself to practice yoga daily. I would go to my yoga studio 6 days out the week and 1 day of home practice. And being a one studio type of yogi, ( I’m a student at Just Breathe Yoga at Rivermark)  practicing six days a week at a studio would be simple. I wanted to find out if I would see any type of difference. It didn’t matter what type, could be spiritual or physical, I just wanted a difference.

The first couple of days of practice were normal for my original routine so I didn’t necessarily see a difference. It was not until Thursday of my week, that I started to feel a change. I felt more connected to my body and mind. My spirit felt lighter and I was generally happier. I was starting to visualize poses I wanted to achieve, and thought about my intentions for each day. I was connecting better to my breath throughout my practice, and brought my breath into my day. I was becoming more balanced, everything I have always wanted in my daily life.

On Friday after yoga class, I made the conscience decision to practice forearm balance. Now, I did clasp my hands for more stability, but don’t hold it against me. I could finally visualize what my body and my mind needed to do in order to achieve this pose. I decided to ask my fiance S. to spot me, and I took my mat against the wall. All of a sudden I found myself upside down in my forearm balance. I released from the wall and took a child’s pose.

I haven’t been able to achieve a true daily yoga practice since, but it is something I’m striving for. It’s important to remember that every week is different and to not beat yourself up if you can’t make each yoga class. It’s more about the journey, and always remember to just breathe.

~Namaste

Scrappy Yogi