Next up, we've got gear that's not too expensive, and slightly better quality than the canned tomatoes and bathrobe straps in the previous post. Goldilocks would say these are juuuuuuuuust right. (I'm a little more fickle, I've got stuff from all these. But more on that later).
Mat: Jade Harmony Professional $60
Cons: For the price, I don't think it's that durable. I feel like if you're gonna spend $60 you may as well spend $90 on the Manduka.
Towel: Manduka eQua Mat Towel $40
Why: Super absorbent, nice and soft, stays flat on the mat even when you're squirreling around, dries quickly and doesn't need any pampering in the laundry department. I just got this one (like, a few weeks ago) and I actually like it more than it's slightly more expensive cousin, the Yogitoes, because it's softer and doesn't bunch up as much. Maybe it's just me, or my mat, but this one seems to lay flatter. And it dries faster!
Cons: Still a little pricey (for a towel), but it's worth it when the studio's a cool 90 degrees.
Blocks: Bean Products Professional Yoga Blocks $10
Why: Just like we have in the studio! Firm and sturdy, you can rotate these blocks to adjust the height: whether you need 4, 6, or 9 inches of lift (very handy for settling into splits or practicing the "Yoga Belly bump-up"). Lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. Non-slip surface.
Cons: The look, maybe?
Strap: Hugger Mugger Cinch Yoga Strap $10
Why: Functional, nice sturdy fabric feels strong and secure, I prefer the D-ring to the cinch buckle, but that's just me. The 6 footer is all I need, but I'm pretty short, so if you're taller you might need an 8 or even 10-footer.
Cons: Um... more expensive than a bathrobe tie?
Well, dearest yogis, I'm off for a long weekend, that water trampoline has my name all over it.
To end the week, I wanted to leave you with this little clip a friend sent to me. We had spent dinner debating whether or not technology had actually improved the collective life of humanity (if you're snoring, I'll spare you) and had really gotten nowhere: we just didn't know. Then, in Jeff's class today, he was talking about seeing the glass as half full vs. half empty, and how if you're a half empty sort of person it won't matter if the cup is full of gold, and I found myself thinking back over my dinner conversation. So much of it goes hand in hand.
Anyway. We're light on philosophy over here at YB, but we do still think about it from time to time. So I'll let the clip speak for itself. And I'll whisper in your ear: everything IS amazing.
Happy weekend! You know I'll have a drink for you ; )
No, your eyes do not deceive you. That's our very own Loran Loosli. In bakasana. ON A TUBE. Like, moving. In the water. At high speed.
Damn, girl. Rock on with your bad self!
Happy Hump Day, my dears! Hope you all are well and enjoying the short week. Tomorrow, I head down to Big Bear for a long weekend of lounging, swimming, and, wait for it... a WATER TRAMPOLINE. I know, right? My life will soon be complete. I'm convinced that I haven't really lived until I've jumped as high as I possibly can and tumbled into a lake, which is my first order of business once we get there.
Anyway, today, we're in the kitchen with Wendy Howell, the lovely lady behind the Topher Simon photo shoot that we posted a while back. She's sharing her latest summer smoothie recipe with us, so take it away, Wendy!
"Try this one on for size!
2 cups strawberries
1 cup watermelon
¼ cup strawberry honey Greek yogurt
2 capfuls strawberry balsamic vinegar (hard to find …. Farmer’s Market item)
Blend and enjoy!"
Sounds deeeeeeeeeeeeelish...Imma have to track me down some of that strawberry balsamic vinegar. Thanks, Wendy!
Image courtesy of tasteofhome.com
We're back with another yoga gear guide. This time, we'll be looking at high end yoga gear, the Mercedes Benz of the yoga world. Don't let the irony of "fancy yoga products" escape you! Again, prices are ballpark-ish.
Mat: Manduka Black Mat Pro $95
Why: Um, well, it's widely considered to be the best mat out there. Super sturdy, super sticky, this mat will last you your whole life (and if it doesn't, you get your money back). I bought mine a few weeks ago and am kicking myself for not getting it sooner.
Cons: Very expensive, and pretty heavy to lug around.
Why: Non-slip silicone grippies stick to your mat, towel is super absorbent and can handle a few classes before it gets really raunchy. It stays pretty flat on the mat and doesn't wrinkle like bath towels do. It has two sides (the side with and without the silicone dots) so you can fold it to whatever side you need. I got mine a few weeks after I started practicing and it totally changed my practice, I sweat like a beast and it took my mat from a slip-n-slide to a yoga mat. No regrets.
Cons: Price, and they're a little high maintenance. They bleed in the wash, so you're supposed to wash them separately (but I don't and still love it). If you forget to take it out of the dryer (I often do, so far it hasn't seemed like a big deal), you can power a small town with all that static electricity. Weirdly, it really only works when wet, it doesn't make much difference if you're not seriously sweating.
Blocks: Hugger Mugger Cork Yoga Block $18
Why: First off, I HAVE NOT actually practiced with these, so this is a bit of a wild guess. But, I have felt them in person, and they feel lovely, nice and smooth and grip-able, and they're eco-friendly, and pretty. Purists would say they're more like the "original" blocks (typically made from bamboo or wood). More legitimately, they have 54 5-star reviews on Amazon. But, in terms of functionality, I can't see much difference between them and their foam counterparts.
Cons: Price, and they're really heavy.
Strap: Wai Lana Organic Cotton Yoga Strap $30
Why: Functional, pretty, organic.
Not strictly yoga-related, but you know, acceptance and embracing people just as they are, I can get behind that. Do with the pronouns what you will.
Happy Labor Day, kids.
I have a whole new respect for this pose after Edna worked me over yesterday. And I thought I knew how to forward fold. Wrong!
So. Effing. Sore.
After making the long-awaited switch to my Manduka, I've gotten some emails about gear. So, I put together a few "guides" with my favorite mats, towels, and other yoga equipment. I try to hit multiple price points, and speak from my own experience, but definitely try things for yourself and know that everyone has different preferences. Also, the prices are ball-park-ish, and you can definitely find a range of prices for the same product, so keep an eye out!
We'll start with the cheapest yoga gear out there... aside from the ground and the air, which, when you think about it, is really all you need.
Mat: Bean Products Yoga Mat $16
Why? Decent padding, decent stickiness, great length. I'm only 5'2, but I still wind up all over the mat, so you tall people will really appreciate this extra long mat. The padding was a little too "kooshy" for me, I like something sturdy for those balancing poses, but for the price, this is pretty good. Oh, and it's non-toxic and phthalate free.
Cons: Too "kooshy," won't last forever.
Towel: Free if you bring your own, or use the washcloths in the studio.
Why? Free and decent.
Cons: They don't stick to the mat, so they wrinkle and clump up as you go through your asanas. If you can deal, or you just don't sweat that much, no biggie.
Blocks: Free if you have big books at home, $4 for two if you use 2 cans of tomatoes from Trader Joes
Why? Free or really cheap/multi-functional and decent. When I'm at home, this is what I use. Or, I do the "Yoga Belly bump up" with Shakespeare on my left and Chaucer on my right : ) (I knew those Riversides would come in handy!)
Cons: Can't grip as well, hard to find books that are exactly the same size/height (especially if you're not an English teacher), cans hurt if you're using martial arts fists!
Strap: Free if you have a bathrobe, scarf, or belt
Why? Free and decent. I use a bathrobe strap at home. I like it better than a belt (though if that's your thing... : )), and my scarves are a little too stretchy.
Cons: Can't tighten it, doesn't feel as secure or solid as the "real thing," it's a little too thin. But, it gets the job done.
Next up: Another gear guide in the mid-price range. Keep your questions and emails coming, I love responding!
I hate to say it, but summer is on it's last leg... my students are back in school, the pool is quieter, and mornings have me already looking for my slippers. Pretty soon, smoothies will take a back seat to oatmeal and hot tea, as far as my breakfasts are concerned.
To help us transition from the summer of smoothies to autumn, we have the culinary queen Fiona So. Fiona is a wonder in the kitchen, and she has been kind enough to share her Sweet Walnut Soup recipe with us.
Take it away, Fiona!
1) Dried Shelled Walnut 200g
2) Dried South Almond 5g
3) Dried North Almond 5g
4) White Rice 25g
5) Water 3L
6) Coconut Milk 400ml
7) White Sugar 300g
Whipping Cream (optional)
a) Put items 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 in blender. If the blender is not big enough, divide the ingredients into several groups. Blend the aforementioned items into a liquid form.
b) Pour the mixture into a big cooking bowl with the use of filter, add item 6 all at once.
c) Boil the soup and keep stirring until it's done.
d) Add item 7 and 8 into the soup. Keep stirring. Take the big cooking bowl away from the stove when it's done.
As per the ayurveda and yoga blog, "Walnuts are good Brain stimulants, Heart healthy, immunity booster, Cancer fighter, and muscle builder" (http://www.ayurvedictalk.com/the-health-friendly-must-eat-everyday-foods/792/)"
Image courtesy of cookwork.com
I received an email from the lovely Laurel Thompson, an ER nurse in Palo Alto who just started practicing at YB. She asked the same questions I was asking a few months ago, so I thought I'd share them on here in case there are any other newbies out there who are curious.
Disclaimer: I am a beginning yogini in EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. If you have serious questions, please direct them to one of our capable, accomplished instructors... I can only speak for myself, and I don't even have a solid idea of where my hip flexors are, so take all this with a grain of salt.
Anyway, take it away Laurel!
"Today was invigorating, I sweat more than I thought I ever could and was very impressed with William and how friendly everyone was. I will be returning to yoga belly! From a beginners stand point what do you recommend? Would you stick to the yoga belly classes for awhile then move to the power yoga? How many days should I aim to go to a class. Let me know what you think I would love any suggestions!!!"
So, here are my thoughts.
Personally, I find the Yoga Belly classes to be just as much as a cardio workout as the power classes, though the power classes do a little more in terms of technique, and it helps to be familiar with some of the basic poses because we move through them really quickly in power. I don't think the power classes are HARDER (some people do, but I still sweat my brains out in Yoga Belly), but instructors will say things like, "Come up into Warrior 2" instead of "Turn your front foot to face the mirror, square your hips to the parking lot, relax the shoulders, tuck the pelvis under, find the 50/50 weight distribution, and gaze over your middle finger." You'll also do a bunch of funky poses in power that you don't really do in YB. Most importantly, you'll see all levels in all the classes, and poses can be modified to meet your particular needs on that particular day. So, don't be intimidated, just go to class and make it about YOUR practice.
If I were you, I'd try both and see which you like! I started with the Hour of Power classes, did a few YB classes, and then worked up to the 75 and 90 minute classes a few months later. 90 minutes of power is still pretty intense for me, and I still go to the YB classes, especially if I need to revisit my foundation.
As far as how often you should practice, that all depends on your goals, schedule, and other fitness interests. Since I don't do much else besides yoga and snowboarding in the winter, I try to go 4-5 times a week, which means I usually go 3-4 times a week. If I'm too sore to hold a pose for longer than a split second, I take a day off, but I find if I go less than 3 times a week I don't really progress the way I'd like to. Also, when I first started practicing, I was doing some running and kickboxing at the gym. However, I found that I ended up with tight muscles, and it really affected my yoga. I decided to take 6 months off from everything else and just focus on yoga, and that really worked for me. So much, in fact, that a year later I'm just now incorporating running and other activities into my routine : ) But, that's just me! Some people come once or twice a week because they do triathlons and circuit training or just work 60 hours a week, so everyone's different. You'll find a stride that works for you.
So, welcome new yogis and yoginis! We hope you're settling in and getting to know this wacky, sweaty, sexy new family of yours. If you have any other questions that a yoga newbie can answer, please feel free to ask! For the hard stuff, there's a yoga mama or yoga daddy out there who will be much more helpful than myself.
Coming soon: Yoga Gear for Newbies: Mats, Towels, and Tanks, Oh My! A Collection of Gear For Every Budget
Image courtesy of lululemon.com