Growing up in the 90’s tie dye used to drive me nuts. It was the weird mix of colors that don’t really vibe well together to make this awkwardly loose and/or baggy outfit set with… More
I have been collecting projects with the intent of doing my own mandala artwork on them.
I’ve been holding onto a wooden yoga wheel for almost two years with the image in my head of a hand burned mandala decorating the inside. Or maybe a colorful mandala made with skinny sharpies.
Well, I’ve tried practicing on paper to make a stencil for these items (cork mats, cork blocks, wooden wheels). It’s not pretty. In fact, it’s frustrating.
Shambhala Publications has a mandala book that is so informational I actually understand what mandalas are! Get this, it’s also a coloring book with different types of mandalas and their description.
The history of numbers and geometry is so fascinating! Reading that absolutely helped me with my fascination toward mandalas. It reaffirms how special all this geometry is that we recreate from nature all over the world.
What I love most about this book is that it isn’t just a coloring book. There are pages of mandalas to color but they also have a description of each one with a little background. Personally, I photocopy the mandala I feel like coloring to keep my book intact, because I’m silly like that!
It also teaches you how to draw a mandala, which is a big part of the book. I’ve tried to draw mandalas before reading this book and never got it before. This teaches where and why you’re drawing certain shapes or lines and how to create different mandalas.
Overall, this is a fascinating book! So much more than I expected and so much more valuable than all those coloring books out there today. It’s a lot of fun to learn about the thing you want to create and adds dimension to your project!
I recommend this to anyone! Enjoy it!
From Amazon: “Unlock the mystery and magic of sacred geometry to create mandalas using ancient design principles.
About the Author
SUSANNE F. FINCHER, MA, is a Jungian-oriented psychotherapist, a licensed professional counselor, a board-certified art therapist, and an internationally known expert on using mandala making for self-exploration. She is also the author of Creating Mandalas and the Coloring Mandalas series.”
Yoga pants are one of the most celebrated pants in the world. They come in all different forms and styles, from compression leggings that might suffocate you to the widest pant leg that looks like a train on a wedding dress.
My favorite are the ones right in the middle. As my daily practice evolved so has my style in yoga wear.
I’ve gotten past the need to wear tight pants for practice and have loved the freedom of flowy open pants that make my yoga practice feel like a dance.
My absolute favorite are The Wild Guru. They can be worn so many different ways! From romper, to flowy pants, sun cover ups, capris and more. I absolutely adore wearing them as pants out and then tying them up for yoga practice.
The colors and patterns are amazing and they’re very affordable! The comfort of these pants is unbeatable. I could wear them all day for anything!
The days I practiced in these it was over 90 degrees Farenheit and I was super comfortable. They’re so easy to make perfect for your specific shape. There is a front tie and back tie that allow all the different ways to wear and make them perfect for any size!
These have made a huge splash on my Instagram. I was curious how they would look in photos and they came out even more stunning than I could have wished!
Check out their website here: www.thewildguru.com
I’m always on the hunt for a perfect yoga mat. I have done a few post comparing different materials in the past. I’ve used rubber mats, cork, acupressure yoga mats, polyurethane mats and more from every major brand out there.
And then this came.
An organic COTTON yoga mat from Sol Living. I had seen someone use one in the studio before but I always wrote them off thinking it wouldn’t suit my practice. I can’t believe how wrong I was! This has quickly become my favorite mat above the rest.
It is soft and comfy. Exactly what you would expect from a Cotton Yoga Rug, but the bottom is grippy toward the ground and doesn’t slip while in use.
Even while my palms got sweaty I didn’t slip off the top. I actually enjoyed this cotton mat more than a super grippy rubber or polyurethane mat which I tend to “stick” to and cannot deepen into a pose without difficulty. While this does take more strength use than relying on the grip and resting in your joints, it actually promotes proper asana practice rather than let you use your joints instead of muscle (causing joint damage over the years).
I love how eco-friendly this mat is. A mat pretty much can’t can any more eco-friendly and health friendly than organic cotton. When you battle as many autoimmune disorders as I do, it can be difficult not to be afraid of each item you use, especially other mats that may contain chemicals or unnatural items.
I haven’t had slipping issues even with arm balances. Big pro is how comfortable and lightweight the cotton mat is! It cushions my achy joints without being heavy or ultra thick. The only concern I have with this mat is that it is spot clean only, which I’m terrible with. I’ll probably throw it in the wash on handwash delicates cycle and let it air dry. I’ll update how that goes 😜
From the owners:
You shape the practice that shapes our products
Sol Living is founded on the belief that we can make a difference in the lives of yogis, both on and off the mat. Our sole mission is to provide you with technologically superior, yet environmentally thoughtful products that work not just as a prop, but as an extension of your mind, body, and practice. Inspired and shaped by each member of the yoga community, our mats and accessories are engineered to boost balance, improve performance, and enhance the overall yoga experience, no matter what your style or personal preferences are.
All our efforts at Sol Living is dedicated to promoting yoga as a way of life. From the conception of our ideas to the sourcing of our raw materials, we always aim for products that you can connect to, live with, and love for as long as possible. We don’t mind taking the longer route, if that’s what it takes to find lasting solutions to your special needs.
Our yoga mats and accessories are a step ahead of everyone else, simply because we take things personally: we keep your personal needs top of mind and found solutions based on that.
The result? Yoga products that you can claim as solely your own. No more slippery surfaces or distracting odor that disrupt your practice; only effective, eco-friendly products that represent the five natural, balancing elements of yoga.
earth for eco-friendliness, air for odor control and breathability, water for sweat absorbance, space for the perfect roominess, and fire for sturdiness in grip. By pairing your needs with the planet’s, we’ve come up with non-slip mats that are made from materials you won’t ever mind practicing on: organic premium cotton (top surface) and natural rubber tree (bottom surface). Learn more about our products here.
Staying true to our roots, staying true to yoga
Our story is one that is rooted in the desire to make every second of practice the best it can be, through products inspired by the people that keep yoga alive: the yogi community. Years of experience taught us that in a sea of commercialized, mass- produced brands, a yoga line that truly understands us is hard to come by. Sol Living is created to change exactly that.
Soulfully created for you
We at Sol Living value you as much as we value yoga. Our products are treated as something personal, as a part of life and as a way of life. That’s why we are serious about finding a much better alternative for commercialized products existing in the market that slip, slide, smell and disrupt your whole practice.
Shaped by every yogi’s needs and enhanced by nature’s natural solutions, we’ve created organic cotton yoga mats that are moisture-absorbing, odor-eliminating, anti-sliding and best of all,earth loving.
It feels good to the touch because of the soft, superior quality cotton, and it allows you to move without worries because of the natural latex behind that gives you a one-of- a-kind, solid grip. We promise to keep innovating yoga products that are soulfully created for you. Shop yoga mats and more.
Check them out here:
I love props. Yoga props can help make a practice safer or even evolve your practice further. No matter what your level of experience is with yoga, a strap can provide useful help on support, alignment, and posture.
When I started yoga, like many beginners, I wanted to get away from props. I thought they meant I wasn’t getting the full benefits of the pose. I thought props meant I was “less than” in the yoga world. What I realized is that my ego is what made me less of a Yogi and not my use of props. I read a beautiful statement from Yoga International that put yoga props in perspective for me, especially when I started practicing Iyengar.
“Props help practitioners of all levels gain the sensitivity of a pose while receiving the benefits over time without overextending themselves. They allow students to practice asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath control) with greater effectiveness, ease, and stability.” – Yoga International
Thankfully, I am lucky enough to have props available for me to use and can now use them as tools to better align my asana and relax into a pose.
I’ve just recently started using straps, thanks to Love My Mat and their handmade strap that is long, comfortable and has a belt loop one end and a sewn loop on the other, which is perfect to slip your foot in and is extra comfortable. I’ve reviewed straps before, comparing and contrasting other brands and this is by far the best yoga strap I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning.
I also adore using their eye pillows for Savasana and resting poses. These eye pillows are so dreamy they can rest even the most tense mind. But why use an eye pillow? I bet you don’t realize how much tension and stress originates in our eyeballs.
“Light pressure on the eyeballs lowers heart rate, sometimes by quite a bit, by eliciting what’s called the oculocardiac reflex. It also stimulates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve has an extensive resume: It regulates heart rate and digestion, and it’s the primary medium through which our belly brain regulates mood. It’s the main communicator to our rest-and-digest system, which helps us to relax more deeply. It also elicits our tend-and-befriend system, enabling us to reach out and connect with others. This is a critical factor in long-term stress resilience and, research shows, in happiness.” The Yoga Journal
What about your sense of smell? I often find that if I spray my mat before I practice, my experience can be quite difference. This spray cleans your mat and the air but I typically rely on a mat spray when I’m not feeling well or up to practicing and the result is a happy, energized flow and joy from practicing.
“Depending on the oil [used] and its properties (and any past experiences you’ve had with the smell), the result is usually an emotional response and/or a memory. In most cases (since essential oils usually smell pleasant) this triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or dopamine.
Getting the brain to release these neurotransmitters is the primary effect of aromatherapy, helping keep our bodies in a healthy and happy state.” – DoYouYoga
I call these Love My Mat props the Essentials Kit because it’s absolutely perfect for every yogi at any level with any particular needs. They even sell them with a Mat Bag as a Beginners Kit!
All the props are made from reclaimed fabric, they are sustainably made and eco-friendly but even more, the quality is outstanding and will last for what I believe, many years to come! The range of products they make is outstanding: yoga mat bags, eye pillows, meditation cushions, knee pillows, yoga bolsters, yoga mat straps and yoga practice straps, zabutons, sandbags, essential oils and more.
The team behind Love My Mat:
“We’re a mother-daughter team who love yoga, recycling and sewing. We’ve married our passions to create an entire line of eco-conscious yoga & meditation supplies including bolsters, yoga mat bags, yoga straps, meditation cushions, yoga mat cleaner, eye pillows & much, much more! If you’re looking for more, check out website for a complete listing of available products www.lovemymat.com”
Creating a meditation space is always a unique and personal experience. At first, I felt a little overwhelmed with what to put on mine. Luckily for me, on the first day of Yoga Teacher Training we went over meditation space and altars (to encourage a daily meditation practice throughout training) and how to set one up.
For my personal altar (although it seems every flat decorative space has become another altar lately!) I brought each of the elements in first. I use crystals for Earth, an oil diffuser for Water (and Air), candles for Fire and light, and Incense which can be used for Air. Furthermore I add the Chinese elements wood and metal, in different ways – driftwood from the beach or petrified wood, bismuth/hematite/pyrite or any crystal containing metal elements. I also add live plants to signify life and my respect for nature.
But one of the most important parts, which has taken me the longest to find the right one for me, is a representation of a “higher being”, someone you admire and has the qualities you’d like to see in the world. This can be across any religion, be a living person you know, or a deity of some sort. A statue or photo of this being or person is most common.
I found these amazing Buddha statues from The Statue Spot on Etsy and the variety gave me enough choices to pick the ones perfect my space. Once I received them I realized how absolutely perfect they are. The Buddha statues come in different sizes based on the styles.
The statues are made from high quality gypsum plaster and are painted in a few different colors. They also make an array of other statues including animals and skulls!
My favorite thing about these are their size. I love the Buddha variations. Buddha is depicted many different ways and a statue of the full body is respected most.
The owners are spectacular to work with. I’m sure if you can dream it they can make it work. Their painting of the statues is perfection and the colors they use are perfect for any area. I chose purple for one statue so it stands out as the centerpiece and a stone color for another on my altar.
I love the details of the Mudras and clothing.
The purple color is my favorite! I love how it is vibrant and subdued equally, making it such an interesting statue to stare at!
They also have larger statues to place on the floor or a stand if you’re looking for something a little bigger!
Check out The Statue Spot on etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheStatueSpot
And on Instagram! @thestatuespot
As any yoga practitioner knows Restorative Yoga is essential in a well-rounded yoga practice. I love Power Flow as much as the next person but I wouldn’t be able to heal as well as I do without Yin or Restorative yoga.
Many of us find Restorative very challenging because it is so hard to fully let go while holding your body in a certain position. Holding poses for a long time can be difficult on certain bodies. My endurance runs out quickly with chronic fatigue and most times it is more physically exhausting to hold a 3 minute Yin pose than it is to do an hour of Vinyasa Yoga.
I started using this while dealing with high anxiety. It worked so well for me that I instantly grabbed it when my daughter suffered a panic attack (many children with gastrointestinal problems also suffer from anxiety disorders). I wrapped her up in a child’s pose with the Lotus Wrap and within ONE MINUTE she was breathing slower and feeling much better. It’s a proven science, the pressure caused by using the Lotus Wrap calms the nervous system which is great for Restorative Yoga and any tension or stress held in the body.
The Lotus Wrap can be used for any pose you can imagine. It’s as easy as a regular yoga strap and can be used in many of the same ways with much more comfort.
Also, the Lotus Wrap is eco-friendly as they only use plant-based fabrics that aren’t treated with herbicides or pesticides. Their packaging is minimal, made from recyclable paper and compostable plastic.
The Lotus Wrap also comes with a beautiful guide to poses with it as well as access to online tutorials to help you get instant relief. It is easy to pack for use anywhere and for safe keeping.
I was most surprised with the difference in poses like child’s pose. Without having to press my seat back to my heels my body melted completely down to the mat and the stress in my shoulders dissipated. It’s definitely great to have at least one of these. But I warn you, if you have children, you’ll fight for the comfort of the Lotus Wrap. And even worse, if you have a spouse with lower back pain (who doesn’t? ) you’ll never get the Lotus Wrap to yourself!
Find them here: https://earthtoethers.com
Or on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/EarthtoEthers
“Cocoon Yourself in Comfort
The Lotus Wrap is an easy-to-use and versatile, yoga strap and meditation belt that lets you sit longer and more comfortably…in meditation, yoga or traveling to your next retreat.
The Lotus Wrap cocoons your body, stabilizing the back and supporting your spine in proper alignment, while you to relax, be nurtured and slip deep into your meditation and yoga practice.
The Lotus Wrap supports your body while comforting your nervous system by using a variety of wrapping techniques. It is especially wonderful for people experiencing back pain or those wanting extra back support to easily maintain a seated posture for an extended period of time. Lightweight and compact, you can use your Lotus Wrap most anywhere… in class, on retreat, at the beach or music festivals or when traveling as it’s the perfect travel size.
Earth to Ethers goes to great lengths to supply you with the best quality, eco-friendly products as possible. The Lotus Wrap compliments a variety of yoga and meditation props such as blocks, bolsters, stools and cushions, and it makes a wonderful alternative to portable chairs. A natural and ethical meditation wrapping method to enhance your experience.”
Something amazing happens when you meditate. Your brain function can be seen with an fMRI and is noticeably different in experienced meditators versus non meditators.
My mother taught me simple visualization meditation as a child to cope with illness and physical pain. She had my lie flat on my back, close my eyes, and imagine a big ball of energy hovering a couple feet above my navel. This ball of energy connected to each limb, joint, pain source, organ and anything else I could identify as part of my body, depending on the age. Breathing out the energy source would take my pain, anxiety, stress and any other negative emotion and filter it and on the breath in it would stream positive light, peace, and pain “medicine”.
It had such an impact on my life that I use it to this day. I’ve become more interested in meditation and am finally at the point where I’m ready to teach it to my own children. I have planted plenty of seeds over the past 6 years, meditated daily during both pregnancies, and let them join me whenever they would like. I’ve added crystals for them to hold, given my daughter her own altar, and given them meditation cushions. They use guided medications with kids apps and Insight Timer.
But it hasn’t stuck yet.
I started reading The Magic of Meditation: The Magic of Meditation: Stories and Practices to Develop Gratitude and Empathy with Your Child by Marie Champeaux-Cunin, Dominique Butet and not only did I get more of an idea of why meditation works but how to meditate. Even more, I’ve learned different meditations and directly how to practice them!
This book not only teaches us how to teach children, but it teaches us how to learn ourselves. I was so impressed while reading the Magic of Meditation that I put it to the test.
I did the Breathing Meditation with my own children. Granted, I didn’t do the child version, just yet. But my six-year-old and four-year-old sat and practice breathing for SEVEN minutes.
Tonight I will introduce Yupsi, the meditation Dragon and follow the 8 different stories throughout the next 8 days. Keeping kids interested in meditation is taught through stories, objects of focus and their freedom to express themselves. The rewards may not be physical things, but as a perfect life lesson, they are the way you and your child feel afterwards.
I’m thoroughly impressed with this book, teaching the adults about meditation so they can teach children later on in the book. It is perfectly laid out and a condensed version for any busy person. I recommend this book for anyone looking to learn how to meditate the easiest way and those with any interest in teaching children!
|Publication date||July 3, 2018|
|Product Dimensions||6 x 0.3 x 8.2 inches|
|Shipping Weight||6.4 ounces|
I “met” Colleen a few years ago, back when my health was still completely debilitating and I couldn’t walk more than 5 steps without exhaustion.
She loves yoga, that’s how we started our friendship. She does yoga to cope with life and to reenergize her soul that she so selflessly gives others.
She’s helped me through some very difficult times, days when the pain consumed me, days when my family was exhausted by me, days when I didn’t know why I was here anymore.
Colleen not only listened whenever I needed, she worked to make my life better. It sounds ridiculous typing this but it’s true. This woman spent hours researching what could help me, getting me products to improve my physical health, and setting up a future for me.
She does all this while caring for her family. She does all this while battling bullies at school, helping her children grow and cope with their difficulties (which is already a full time job) and taking care of her home and husband.
For the first time in all of these years of knowing and speaking daily to Colleen, I felt like she needed me this time. I felt like Colleen needed more than a future unknown. I feel like it’s time for Colleen to step into Yoga Teacher Training.
After speaking to her, she is certainly ready too! She’s been teaching her son yoga for years to benefit his health and hosting 100s of yoga challenges on Instagram. She has constantly devoted her time and energy to learning yoga AND sharing it with everyone and anyone.
She is the perfect vessel for a yoga teacher.
She reached out to the studio closest to her and met the most wonderful soul. The owner her met with her and knew she had to take this teacher training next September, even though it’s full. Her new teacher said she could feel that Colleen needed this next step in her life, now.
I’ve set up a GoFundMe for Colleen and I hope you will share it! Spreading the word about her kind, loving, compassionate soul will help her be able to stay in TT, despite her financial situation.
It seems like a small thing, but if you’ve read my own reflections on Teacher Training, you know it can change lives. This will give Colleen so much, it could never even be monetized. She will be able to work, give to others without draining herself and sacrifice her health, she will learn more skills to help her children and teach them, she will have an income and she will learn how to care for herself.
Living the Sutras: A guide to Yoga Wisdom beyond the mt by Kelly DiNardo and Amy Pearce-Hayden is the book on the Sutras I’ve been searching for. I’ve read a few different interpretations of the Sutras, some too wordy and confusion and some too literal.
Living the Sutras is absolutely perfect. It starts with the sutra in Sanskrit with a translation. Then, the commentary explains using modern life situations. It ends with a Reflection practice to put the Sutra to use!
Getting the reader involved makes this book unique. Other guides on the Sutras just explain the author’s idea on the Sutra and maybe some situation to show what it means but I haven’t stumbled on a book that gives you practical advice on how to put it to use and learn from it!
I really love that Living the Sutras isn’t a massive manual but easily digestible for the average person. This a book you can read a few pages each day and still learn a lot. It creates a healthy pace for learning such a complex yet simple subject.
The Appendix shows the Sutras without commentary which is also a plus.
Of course, I’ve started marking my book up with all the jewels of information. I encourage you to do the same. When you’re learning something, make notes, highlight what impacts you!
|Publication date||June 12, 2018|
|Product Dimensions||5.2 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches|
|Shipping Weight||7.4 ounces|
Living the Sutras: A Guide to Yoga Wisdom beyond the Mat https://www.amazon.com/dp/161180549X/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_O1qsBbXKYF6C6
Two and a half years ago I was interviewed for a female based yoga site on why I started yoga. While the site is down, I found my interview! I though it would be a nice contrast to just finishing YTT and my reflections in my last post.
“It’s amazing how emotional a question can be. I haven’t delved deep into the questions yet and I already feel my emotions, just below the surface stirring like ripples in a disturbed calm water.
How I imagine my first yoga class is calm, safe and humble. All the anxiety and pressure, the assumptions of expectations of my performance, fears of my inability all stayed outside the door, unwelcome in such a warm, loving environment. My teacher is relaxed, welcoming and inspirational. The class is an open space, with plenty of room to search for yourself. My initial thought is “this is more than I expected, I could find my home here.”
Yoga practice at home has become a medicine for me. Most of my life was dark and grey. The challenges I faced dimmed my inner light and there were many days I considered who I was as a person, dead. I contracted Lymes Disease as a toddler and have had Generalized Anxiety Disorder my entire life. These two things set the stage for my life. As a child I constantly feared traumatic events as very realistic possibilities. I became sick in puberty with a handful of autoimmune diseases ranging from thyroiditis, pcos and lupus. I missed more classes in high school than I attended but thankfully still graduated with a 4.0 gpa. I felt my life was stolen from me because I had dreams I was supposed to be someone significant in the world. Starting college I became severely ill and missed the first semester, while trying to get back on track during the second, I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance. The police didn’t believe there was any proof of wrong doing, just some things were “off”.
Somehow after all this I fought my way back to being a human, got back into a new school, reunited with my high school sweetheart (who also overcame a lot during our long friendship) and while I was fighting another flare he stuck by me, making me laugh during every awful moment. He asked me to marry him (almost everyday) and I said yes. He passed away that night from a heart condition being agigtated by shoveling through the snow storm. After that devastating time I eventually started dating the only other love of my life. He brought a glimmer of hope for my life and nonstop moments of happiness (in a world where I thought I had been dead inside). We had two children and I graduated college but am unable to work because of the progression of my disease through my pregnancies and after. I felt I had no purpose and nothing to contribute to the world.
I am very lucky to have my children, even though they fight some of their own health issues. I am very lucky to have all the love I have in my life. As things started to get magical in my life I kept waiting for the next bad thing to happen. I was terrified all these good things would be stolen from me, and often self sabotaging my personal relationships to avoid the assumed future pain. Yoga has brought me home throughout all the struggles since my mother taught me meditation techniques for coping as a child, filling my body with a soul again. I try to practice at least 3 minutes of asanas on a physically bad day. But I practice yoga in every aspect of my life as much as possible. I am always looking inward to become a better mother and spouse. How can I openly give and accept love from my children, my spouse and those around me? I ask myself how I can do good in this world and take advantage of the opportunities presented to me. Yoga has brought back my love for all things living (after years of hatred from suffering). It’s within the breathing and the movements you learn to let go of the pain, take care of yourself and love others. Within that space you learn to trust, accept and welcome the vulnerability in loving and caring for yourself and others. Yoga has reminded me that I am still alive and I have so much life left to give. I still suffer from anxiety and several autoimmune conditions but it’s no longer in control of my destiny, my love runs my life.
I practice asanas in morning to get my joints moving, even if it’s very brief. I practice yoga by trying to be kind even while I am struggling. People deserve kindness and compassion, especially my children, even while I may be suffering. The practice of yoga to me is to constantly grow, learn and evolve. It is emotional, mental, spiritual and physical.
I can’t say one moment has changed my practice. A single person is made up of endless moments and each of them change her or him (if not anything but at least time). It’s trying to stay in the mindset to make those changes as positive as can be. Becoming more. Becoming better, more open, compassionate, kind and forgiving. If you can appreciate each moment, it will change you and help you grow.”
Most interesting about this interview is that this was before I had taken any studio classes. I practiced daily with DVDs, online classes and YouTube. I found yoga in a way that many people believe the Western world lacks.
Also, my first studio class was quite similar to how I hoped but probably because that’s how I made it. I ended up at a place exactly that eventually, but it took time to experience different places to see where I belonged.
My passion for yoga hasn’t changed much! I am still deeply rooted in yoga and my life has dramatically changed for it.
Has your practice changed your life? Take some time to reflect on your journey and share below!