Yoga has become a (more) regular part of #mywellnessadventure. I had taken classes at random studios in the past, and more regularly at my local gym, and then explored classes at local Boston events. I’ve practiced outside, under the summer sunset, performing sun salutations as the sun descended. I’ve even done a yoga youtube video at my friend’s house in LA, just me and youtube. I’ve also explored private yoga studios. In my experience, there are as many styles of yoga as people, ranging from the theory of the practice, to the temperature, the music, and the speed or goals of the classes. What is nice is that sometimes you will need a slow, restorative gentle yoga, and other times you might need a more vigorous way to really stretch into those difficult muscular areas that can impinge on our ability to go about our normal day. A lot of the time, I see a connection between how I may have been treating my body and what I feel (tightness, pain, soreness).
So, be kind and listen in!
For me, yoga has helped me to focus and listen in closer to what my body is feeling and to also exercise to be permissive to it – it isn’t a race to complete all the poses or to demonstrate agility in comparison to others. In this way, the yogic life is not a race. This thoughtful consideration of insight into my health has helped in other ways; I have learned poses that help achieve better sleep and how to pace my breathing to get out of an anxious situation, or conversely, to wake up when I’m feeling groggy.
The same thoughtfulness and focus while on a yoga mat applies off the mat – whether you are in the middle of a task or laying down to rest for the night. I personally have liked practicing setting an intention at the beginning of my practice, and also at the start of a day, a project, or a task. What do I want to get out of it? Why not ask? Afterwards, there is a symmetry to it – did I achieve my intention? Is there resolution? If there isn’t, be at peace, forgive yourself, and try again tomorrow.
I’ve recently finished reading an enjoyable memoir by yogi Sara Di Vello called “Where in the OM am I?” which offered insights into an on the mat/off the mat practice as Sara discovers it for herself during yoga teacher training after a high-pressure career in finance. It is not an encouragement for everyone to follow suit and become a yoga teacher, but it is an encouragement to listen in when things aren’t working and to look for tools to help. I’ve taken a few yoga classes with Sara and it has always been just what I needed, so if you’re around Boston, try to find a class! The book is also a fun read.
This paragraph of “Where in the OM am I?” has been resonating with me this week, in light of recent Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday and the holiday season. There are a lot of needs, so how can we meet all the needs that may demand our attention?
“I submit that the most powerful action any of us can take is to brighten or enhance, improve or support, in effect, to alter (however subtly) another person’s path. That there’s no better way to indelibly mark your own place in the world than to stretch out your hand to someone else. And that to be part of another’s journey, somehow, in some way, is the most meaningful contribution anyone can make (p.295).”
Since I’m sharing a bit about my experience in practicing yoga for #wellnesswednesday, I it is fitting to share with you a local New England-designed eco-jute yoga mat company called mello mae, created by Meagan Dobson. They’re designed in New England, with stripes to echo the nautical stripes in New England style, but made ethically in China. Her company also believes in giving back, and $1 of every purchase goes to a rotating set of charities.
The principle of her mats are that they have the earth in mind, with 30% of the mat deriving from sustainably attained natural jute which brings the earth into the owner’s personal yoga practice, but also is practically helpful for adding better traction and grip for hot yoga where yogis might slip a little more during the exercise.
I enjoy it when products do double duty like this, and I ordered my own mat a couple of months ago to have an extra one (…and to encourage my husband to join in sometime), but I find I’ve been using this as my primary mat – especially when I got to preview CorePower Yoga (I linked the Massachusetts locations, but they’re also all over the US) to try out the C2 hot yoga class at their newly opened studio in the South End.
Their brand-new facilities there were beautiful, and the friendly and helpful instructors (Majesta and Grace!) and staff were a delight to meet and I came out feeling like I understood why hot yoga is good for muscles and allows muscles to deepen in the stretch.
This mat is the grapefruit style which is red + gold and I love the color combo. Check out her shop to see all 5 designs in her collection. Sweet and simple! I like sharing local finds, highlighting Boston Business Women, and letting you know when they’re having a promotion – currently mello mae is offering $10 off a mat purchase with the code “BlackFriday2016.” I like the idea of gifting something that is a ‘toast to your health’ and a yoga mat is a fine holiday gift – useful, pretty, and well-made.
Yoga isn’t just stretching (although it can be, if you want it to be). It can be an active, chosen way of life, and a support physically and intrinsically. I hope you enjoyed this post! Do you practice yoga? Have you read “Where in the OM am I?” I’d love to hear your thoughts on yoga!