product review: eQua Hand Yoga Towel by Manduka

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On a particularly stressful work day, I decided to hit a yoga class instead of a food truck for lunch, and ended up at the studio with no towel.  I picked up one of these eQua hand towels by Manduka, and headed into a fairly sweaty session.  The towel is reminiscent of a chamois – feels a little bit like microsuede – and it absorbs like crazy!  I also used it to lay down on the front of my mat to prevent slippage during downward dog and Bakasana.  It is available in a nice variety of radiant colors, and costs $16.  I definitely recommend it as it packs well and does an outstanding job – one of the better “on the fly” purchases I have made this year.

Available at Manduka.com – $16.00 each.

Disclosure:  I was not compensated to write this review.

moving towards my bliss.

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Hello Yogis!

So as you can tell from my dormant blog, I’ve been majorly lagging on the blogging.  I fell out of my regular yoga practice and began pursuing other interests (gardening, hanging out with my amazing boyfriend, and re-learning tennis, to name a few).  I haven’t had anything insightful to say aside from a product review here or there, so I felt like should put the blog on the back burner until I came up with something worth writing about.  And then something Barbara Walters said on yesterday’s episode of “The View” struck a chord with me – in reference to the age old advice to recent grads to “follow your bliss”, she asked how many college graduates really know what their “bliss” is?  And if they don’t know what it is, how are they supposed to follow it?

I’m 32 years old and I have spent the past few years redefining what I thought my bliss was.  After many months of serious thought towards my future, I realized that I have been working a “regular” desk job since 2003 and that it was a safe yet unfulfilling way to spend my 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.  I work in customer service and though I honestly do  LOVE helping people, it’s a different kind of “helping” when you’re sorting out someone’s issue with your company.  I want to do something “helpful” that truly changes other people’s lives, and at the end of 2011, I decided I wanted to become a fitness instructor.

If you look at me, I don’t embody the gym-rat, hyper-sculpted fitness model instructor-type.  In fact, I struggled (and still struggle) with my weight and body image and I know that the fitness industry can be very difficult based on your looks.  I still have issues with yoga because of the limitations of my body (and my bidou) But in March of 2012, I received my license to teach Zumba Fitness, a Latin-dance based exercise format that has become extremely popular in the past few years.  I’ve been a dancer forever, but I haven’t danced regularly in a very long time, and Zumba kind of brought me back to my “roots”.  My mother can tell you that from a very young age, I was never the type to sit still for too long.  Moving is what moves me, and I really think that in order to be happy, I have to follow my heart and find that sweet spot where I can make a living doing something that doesn’t feel like it’s draining the life out of me.  (No offense, day job!)

So I’m branching out on this blog.  Its roots were founded on my serious and regular yoga practice that I was able to sustain a few years ago, and I still plan on getting my yoga teacher certification once I can pony up $3000 for an instructor training.  But I want to chronicle my journey here – and hope you will continue to follow me (and maybe come to one of my classes!).

Ciao for now….

pre-emptive strike!

In light of my recent frustrations and feeling the need to organize everything in my life, I’m trying to get back on track with the diet and exercise routine.  When I feel healthy, it helps me to feel happier and more motivated to do more to keep up the pace and keep myself together, you know?  And what better time to get into my groove than now, right before the cold weather and holidays make me want to crawl into a corner and hibernate?

I purchased a 4-pack of classes for Flying Yoga Shala in Oakland, since I’m often in Oakland on the weekends.  I have one month left on my Passport to Prana card (I have seriously under-used this card this year).  And I just bought a one-month unlimited package at the newly opened Dailey Method, since it was on today’s Bloomspot special.  And I joined a second gym with my boyfriend, in an attempt to have absolutely NO excuses on doing some kind of physical activity as often as possible.

Inspired by my recent fitness commitments, I headed to Berkeley Bowl to grab some veggies and then to Rainbow Grocery to get my granola on:  brown rice syrup, safflower oil, unflavored mochi, gluten-free tortillas, tofu-noodles (Shirataki brand), brown rice, and other such ultra-healthy things.  This past weekend, I went on a vegan cooking frenzy (much to the boyfriend’s chagrin, I’m sure) and made a lovely kabocha-lentil stew, braised daikon, and some garlic collar greens.  (Thank you, Alicia Silverstone and her book, The Kind Life.)

Just taking these steps feels amazing and empowering.  I know, the hard work is yet to be done – to actually ATTEND these yoga classes (and other fitness classes), to make and eat deliciously healthy food, and really get into a routine and eventually, a complete lifestyle change.  It’s hard not to be disappointed that I’m not in the place (healthy/body/life-wise) that I would have liked to be looking back on last year, but like anything else…if you fall down, you have to get up and try again.  I can’t even count how many times I’ve attempted to make this change (and have it stick), but here’s to another try!!

taking stock.

clutter affects my life

not my mess, but close enough.

I am feeling very un-zen right now.

Finally, the one thing that I can’t complain about is my love life.  I’m completely in love for the first time in ten years, and it’s amazing.  But it feels like a lot of other things in my life could use a little improving, and I can always tell when my head is in a messy place when my apartment looks like the photo above.

When I take a quick visual inventory of the things in my studio apartment (side note: my landlord just increased my rent, so this is another motivator), dollar signs start flashing when I notice that I spent $20 on a pair of cute platform espadrille wedges that I haven’t worn, or $10 on an IKEA table that I hate, or the hundreds of dollars worth of vinyl records that I purchased in the early 2000s.  I have a trunk of CDs and VHS tapes under my coffee table.  All of these material things are taking up space, making me feel guilty for being frivolous with my money, especially during a time where finances need to be tightened in order for Jules (my boyfriend) and I to start making some steps forward towards our future.  I have books and magazines all over, clothes spilling out of my closet, and a general collection of stuff that I probably haven’t touched in years.  I’m probably one box full shy away from becoming a full-fledged hoarder, and that is just NOT healthy.  I am long overdue for a purge – perhaps I can score some cash by selling my excess stuff on Craigslist, Half.com, and Crossroads Trading Co.?

All this meditation on “re-inventorying” makes me stop and wonder, what else in my life do I need to purge and let go of?  What lifestyle choices do I need to re-evaluate in order to get to the things that I ultimately want?  Am I using everything I have to move towards or away from my goals?

It’s a lot to take in at once, and I find myself feeling bad about the decisions that I’ve made in the past and where they have landed me now.  But as Jules likes to always remind me, you can’t change the past so there’s no use getting upset over it.  (I am so lucky to have someone remind me on a regular basis.)  Maybe I can enlist his help this weekend in cleaning out the place, and then drag him to yoga with me.  Haha.

Anyone need some side tables?

definitely do: office yoga

 

My lovely and talented friend Kat created this fun video for National Yoga Month!  Check out what she’s up to here:  NABCommunities.com

studio review: yoga mayu

I needed a “no-excuses” yoga studio.

As in, hey – you have an hour for lunch, the yoga studio a block from your office offers a hour “lunchtime yoga” class, and “Hey, you’ve been slacking off on your practice for quite some time now, young lady…”.  The perfect yoga storm, really.

I walked in, always a little nervous when trying a studio for the first time, and registered at the desk – $29 for two weeks for new students!  The studio is decent sized, with wood floors and lots of light.  The music wasn’t too mystical either – some nice, ambient sounds during practice helped me to get into the groove.  We sweat.  We down-dog.  Finally, Savasana.  Om, indeed.

My aching shoulder muscles two days after my first class remind me exactly how off my yoga game I’ve been.  Chaturanga dandasana kicked my butt.  But in a good way.  The two teachers who teach lunchtime yoga (David and Kim) are great – medium paced classes with a lot of vinyasas, a mix of strengthening and stretching poses (oh how I love Prasaritta!).  I am definitely considering buying a few class packages so that I can continue this lunchtime yoga gig – it’s really refreshing in the middle of my mostly-sedentary work day!

YOGA MAYU

2051 Harrison Street San Francisco, CA 94110
415-671-4712
info@yogamayu.com

when life gets in the way.

Yep, that’s an “oops” face.

Why?  Because it’s been MONTHS since I’ve updated my blog, and I am pretty embarrassed to call myself a yoga blogger at this point.  The reality:  I’ve been blissfully stuck in “honeymoon mode” with my new(ish) relationship and have barely even spent time in a yoga studio (for a number of reasons), so imagine how much time I’ve dedicated to thinking about blogging about yoga.  That’s right – nada.

Which got me to thinking about my New Year’s resolutions that I had made months ago.   I spend a great deal of time thinking about the things I want to do:   rock climbing, horseback riding, yoga teacher training, running, sailing, skydiving (big maybe!?), stand-up paddleboarding, revamping my diet and wardrobe, planting an herb garden, making preserves, visit friends in NYC and Chicago, go for a bike ride (or two), and hit a few California coastal towns (Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Diego).  It gets a little overwhelming.  I make lists of things I want to do, and get sidetracked by…doing other things.

So instead of beating myself up about not blogging, not going to yoga, not eating a salad today, or not going out enough, I decided to catalog what exactly I’ve been spending my time doing, particularly things that made me miss out on my yoga practice:

  • Going to dinner with people I haven’t seen in ages (including my friend Ellen, who I haven’t seen in years, and my best friend Syd, a flight attendant who I get to see once every blue moon when she isn’t traveling)
  • Weekend trip to Tahoe (my first time in snow in years)
  • Mani-pedis and Indian dinner with my good friend Mols (sometimes you just NEED this)
  • Working at a wine bar (temporarily, partially to get my mind off the fact that my boyfriend was out of the country for a while)
  • Getting dental work (much needed, my molar thanks me)
  • Working at the Zinfandel festival (once a year)
  • Chinese New Year celebration (my first Chinese New Year’s dinner ever)
  • Visiting a trampoline park (boyfriend’s birthday celebration)
  • Bloomingdale’s shopping party (some QT with my friend Kat who I don’t see often, and running into two friends I haven’t seen in a while)
  • Visiting a dairy goat farm in Pescadero, CA  (a really fun day)
  • Watching a friend race a car in the “24 Hours of Lemons” race in Sonoma  (14 hours at the racetrack, totally awesome)
  • Spending some time at Home Depot and Berkeley Horticultural picking out gardening items (YESSSSSS!)
  • Dinner with a friend visiting from Chicago at one of my favorite French restos
  • A little retail therapy at H&M after a very, very bad day
  • Saturday BBQ with some very good friends

I can’t say that I regret skipping yoga for any of this.  I mean, isn’t this what “living” is all about?  Relationships, experiences, and enjoying your time?  I think yes.  So, I made the promise of updating my blog regularly with the best of intentions, but you see…life really did get in the way.  In a good way!

In all seriousness…my next few posts will be coming shortly.  Yoga has found it’s way back into my life as I renewed my Passport to Prana card (and got a few friends to do it with me), and signed up for a 2-week special at a studio next to my office (lunchtime yoga!).  Back on track, I say!  See you in my next post :)

new year reflections.

Happy (belated) New Year, readers!

I’ve been gone for a month, and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t done much yoga over the holidays.  I took an additional job, and my usual yoga teacher went on a really long vacation, so I feel a little out of touch with the entire yoga community at the moment.  I went to my first yoga class in two weeks this evening, and it was really hard to get back into the groove of things!  I started going over a laundry list in my head: the “things I’d like to do” list.  I’m going to publish them here so I can be held accountable for these goals.

I don’t want to call them “resolutions” per se, but they are things I’d like to accomplish in 2011.  Quit smoking.  Do more cardio.  Eat better.  Save money.  Lose weight.  Redo my wardrobe.  Explore my city more.  Be outside.  Spend more time with people over 70 and under 6.  Volunteer for new organizations.  Read more.  Stop sweating the small stuff.  And blog more.

So here’s to looking to the future – onward and upward.  I don’t mean to say that I’m unhappy with the way things are now (because I most certainly am blessed!!), but it’s all about expanding and learning and living the fullest life we possibly can.

Bon anee!!

~omgirlsf

 

gifts for yogis

Well, tis’ the season for giving, but I won’t hold it against you if you’re a yogi wishing for something tangible for Christmas.  In fact, here’s a little Holiday Gift Guide to spread the yoga love for givers and wishers alike.  Happy shopping!

Chocoveda, based in Los Angeles, offers truffles infused with an Ayurvedic herbal tonic.  Made from organic and sustainable ingredients, these beautiful handcrafted delights are all natural and vegan certified!  Check them out here.

Yogitoes Skidless towel – perfect for those of you (us) who like their yoga sweaty.  A staple in many fast-paced yoga classes, this washable towel will keep your mat slip free and help you maintain your postures while beads of inspiration drip from your body.  Available at lululemon.com.

Jade Yoga Mats – though I do like my Manduka mat, I am a huge fan of the Jade travel mat.  Available in tons of colors and two lengths, these mats are nice and thick but not too heavy.  Love!  I bought mine locally at Rainbow Grocery Co-Op – check their website for current retailers.

 

Fair Trade Alpaquita Scarves – Made by indigenous Peruvian artisans living high in the Andes Mountains, where warm alpaca wool is vital for survival.  The Alpaquita Scarf is over 7.5′ long, with a knitted pattern of criss-crossing squares and different tensions giving it style and design.  Available through the Global Exchange Store .

 

TOMS Shoes – available for men, women, and kids, these shoes actually give back!  For every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need.  Talk about justified shopping.  And they’re comfortably stylish to boot.

Satya Jewelry carries a beautiful assortment of precious and semi-precious jewelry inspired by yoga.  I really love all the delicate lotus pieces!

Yoga Starter Bundle from Amazon.com – consists of four DVDs for at-home yoga, including one from my very first yoga teacher, Lara Hudson!  Under $60.  A total steal.

you can’t plan everything.


 

Can I just say how much I *love* the Passport to Prana program?  I have been able to hit so many new studios and classes, that it’s opened my eyes to exactly how lucky I am to be living in a yoga mecca.  Then…just when I was getting into a serious yoga routine, I was forced to take a giant step back.

My shoulder gave out on me.

I went to a yoga class on Monday in the Mission (cute studio, happened to be no longer on the P2P list, but they let us take class anyway).  Maybe it was the teacher, the sequencing of poses, the carpeted surface (mat slipped EVERYWHERE), or perhaps I’ve just been doing way too much yoga lately (I didn’t think that was possible).  I felt fine after class, but then when I got home that evening, something felt off.  The next morning, I couldn’t lift my arm very high – my shoulder ached and it felt stiff.  You have GOT to be kidding me, I thought to myself.  It just so happened that I had actually PLANNED every yoga class I wanted to take till our passes expired at the end of November.  My entire schedule is RUINED!!!

It was quite humbling, when I thought about it.  I mean, here I was, trying to engage in a practice that emphasizes living in the moment, and controlling only the things you can control (your thoughts, your words, your actions)…and I was freaking out about missing a few days of yoga because my shoulder decided to take a vacation.

Oh well.  I’m on day four of no yoga, and I’m doing ok.  I’m planning on heading to a class tomorrow morning to see what I can do, because all I can do is try, right?

Laters, my yoga tweeps!

 

 

 

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