High Vibrations Yoga DVD by Jo Tastula

I’ve been practicing yoga pretty regularly lately with YogaGlo and one of my favorite yoga teachers on the site is Jo Tastula. Besides having a great Australian accent she teaches a pretty darn near perfect vinyasa flow class. I always feel inspired, focused, and in the moment afterwards. Most of her classes on YogaGlo range between 30 and 60 minutes–enough time to get good and sweaty–, but I recently discovered she also has an excellently produced DVD, High Vibrations Yoga, which consists of five short meditations and five sun salutation practices. Any combination of the practices can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Great for those moments when you don’t have a lot of time, but want to reconnect with and realign your body’s energy.

The five practices focus on the concepts of abundance, release, strength, balance, and peace. As the instructions for the DVD state, you should “start where you are. Get still. Listen within, and take a deeply honest survey of how you are feeling,” and then choose one of the meditations and yoga practices for a transformational yoga pick-me-up. In addition to the outstanding yoga instruction, the music is top notch (Lisbeth Scott’s vocals are absolutely mesmerizing) and the scenery of Sequoia National Park is stunning. All in all it’s a great beginning to intermediate yoga practice for those not looking to get really sweaty, but looking for a little inner peace and outer strength.

Manduka Introduces the John Friend Collection

My favorite yoga gear company, Manduka, recently partnered with yoga teacher and founder of Anusara Yoga, John Friend, to create its first ever-cobranded line of yoga gear.  Since I think this is a great step forward in providing high-quality, innovative yoga gear, I wanted to share a few highlights from the recent press release to give you a flavor of this new collection:

Going outside the 24″ industry standard width for yoga mats, the John Friend Collection by Manduka will launch initially with two extra wide mats including the 29-inch wide eKO Superlite and 30-inch wide PROlite.  This is the first time the yoga community will have access to such a high quality blend of innovative technology and the veteran experience of John Friend in a mat, providing superior comfort and sufficient space to align the body and explore yoga postures.  The added space allows for a deeper expression of movement and a better connection between body, mat and heart.
Manduka’s take:
“Our partnership with renowned yoga teacher John Friend allows us to provide the most innovative and ecologically responsible yoga gear in a new way ,” said Sky Meltzer, CEO of Manduka.  “Together we’ve aligned to create a collection that pushes industry standards, pouring over four decades of expertise into designs that will inspire yoga practitioners worldwide.”
John Friend’s take:
“For years I’ve been committed to the teaching that yoga comes from the heart—that it is a practice accessible to all and brings out your inner joy and divine energy,” said John Friend, Founder of Anusara yoga.  “Manduka is a company that embodies the same principles while providing high quality products to enhance your practice.  I am honored to collaborate with such an authentic company to bring an amazing new line of gear to the yoga community, deepening the connection between heart and mat, and inspiring students of any level to enjoy more energetic freedom during their practice.”

Click the banner below to check out the new collection!

Juil Sandals Make Happy Yogi Feet

Living on a semi-tropical island pretty much means sandals and flip-flops are a staple of life. Avid yogis also appreciate the simplicity of sandals since they make jumping onto the yoga mat that much easier.  One thing I’ve discovered from all my sandal wearing though is that not all sandals are created equally.  I’m definitely a picky sandal wearer–they have to look, and more importantly feel just right–so I have to say I could hardly contain the smile on my face the day I received a pair of Juil Apollo sandals in the mail and slipped them on my feet.

Juil Sandals

Juil is an up-and-coming startup company (you may have recently seen their ads in Yoga Journal and Yoga International) that designs unique sandals with Energy Flow Technology. As you can see from the pictures, the soles of Juil sandals have copper conductors that “discharge and absorb the earth’s natural energies with every step you take, connecting you to the earth in a way that traditional footwear doesn’t.”  As their website says:

Yoga restores your physical balance. Meditation restores your mental balance. Juil sandals restore your natural balance of energy…

You’ll feel it from your heel and toes to the very core of your being. And more importantly, you’ll be connected to essential life forces, like you’ve never been before.

Although I’m not so sure my life has been transformed because my sandals have copper energy conductors in the soles, I must say that Juil sandals are the complete package, and I mean that literally.  While some companies know how to design great products, they often fall short on the product delivery.  As a connoisseur of aesthetic product packaging, I would compare Juil’s unboxing experience to that of cracking open a new Apple product.  From the pull-tab on the shiny slide-out box (gonna have a tough time getting rid of that box) to the sandals lovingly wrapped in a yoga mat carrying case, I know it sounds cheesy, but it was kind of inspiring. I mean, seriously, sandals wrapped in a yoga mat bag…how cool is that?!?

If you’re looking for some sandals to keep your feet happy this summer, then check out Juil’s current lineup of men’s and women’s sandals or visit Juil’s Facebook page to hear what others are saying.

Don’t Leave Home Without Your Manduka eQua Plus Towel

Not long ago I found myself stuffing a suitcase for an overseas business trip. As usual, I contemplated cramming a yoga mat in as well (since business trips suck without a little yoga), but given luggage limitations I went for the next best thing and tossed my new Manduka eQua Plus yoga towel into the bag. While the eQua Plus towel provides a perfect top layer for your favorite yoga mat, I’ve found that it also substitutes perfectly well as a mat replacement when I just need a clean, non-slip surface in my hotel room or the beach or wherever I feel like practicing yoga.  Just add a little water or sweat and the thing rocks!

While I also own the original eQua towel, which is also awesome, the eQua Plus towel is slightly different in that it is woven with natural fibers extracted from recycled coconut shells. The yarn is infused with activated carbon which spreads and evaporates moisture and provides improved odor management by eliminating bacteria.  Of course the Manduka website does a much better job explaining what’s so cool about the coconut fibers in the towel:

Cocona technology utilizes recycled coconut shells that would have otherwise gone to landfills. Through a patented process, the coconut shells are converted into activated carbon particles which are then infused into the microfiber. The benefits of the coconut carbon will last the lifetime of the towel. The active carbon renews itself when washed and the benefits will endure or improve over the lifetime of the towel.

Recyclable, durable and long-lasting, we consider the product to be an eco-conscious choice when the towel is used to its fullest potential. Its versatility eliminates the need for other fitness towels that wear out quickly. While the material will survive countless uses & washes, it can also be repurposed as a multifunctional cleaning cloth if its life as a fitness accessory comes to an end.

Easily packing to the size of a small t-shirt and perfect as a yoga mat replacement for those times when the mat just won’t fit, I highly recommend that you don’t leave home without the eQua Plus!

Book Review: 27 Things to Know About Yoga

Welcome to Day #3 of the Blog Book Tour for Victoria Klein’s new yoga book, 27 Things to Know About Yoga!

I couldn’t be happier to share and recommend this gem of a yoga book with each of you. Part how-to book, part intro to yoga philosophy and lifestyle, 27 Things is that book you wish you had in your bag with you at the airport when you really need something fun and interesting to read and don’t feel like tying your brain into knots. Open the book anywhere and you’ll find bite-sized bits of wisdom that will inspire your practice both on and off the yoga mat.

Perfect for Yoga Newbies! I especially recommend 27 Things for those just getting into yoga. As Ms. Klein states in the introduction, “Think of this as a gateway book: a great starting point or quick reference in your ongoing journey for intelligent and useful information about yoga.” That’s a perfect description of the book.

For the yoga newbie, 27 Things should give you the confidence and direction you need to go to your first class, delve into a variety of yoga styles, or seek out a teacher that suits you. 27 Things also gives straightforward answers about what to wear, what to eat, and what to bring to class. With a little bit of practical wisdom from the author, you won’t have any more excuses for not giving yoga a try.

Also Great for Yoga Vets! I may still struggle to look natural when touching my toes (due to hamstrings about as stretchy as a piece of dry wood…), but I do consider myself somewhat of a veteran in the world of yoga book reading. Although 27 Things is probably geared more towards breaking the ice with the curious about yoga crowd, it contains plenty of insight that a seasoned yogi can also appreciate. Motivation to practice doesn’t grow on trees, and you can certainly expect to receive a good dose of it in this book.

Thing 21 reminds the reader that yoga is very much about discipline, and that “No matter your schedule, budget, or location, yoga is meant to be practiced every minute of every day….It may be hard to imagine meeting yourself on your yoga mat every day, but that is what needs to be done.”

This is a great little book. It’s cheap (less than 10 bucks on Amazon), it’s an easy read, and it just may be the book you need in your bag to help you survive your next plane ride.


Sanctuary by Donna De Lory

Another highly-recommended yoga album:

From DonnaDeLory.com

Singer and songwriter Donna De Lory has always followed divergent musical roads. The petite, vivacious brunette with the mighty voice happily dallied in the mainstream as Madonna’s sassy tour sidekick for over a decade, but her own parallel journey as a solo artist follows a more eclectic muse. A devoted student of yoga and spiritual teachings, De Lory’s lushly conceived solo albums, like her 2009 ecstatic groove Sanctuary, are not only inspired by Western pop, but Indian devotional music, Sanskrit mantras, Northern African grooves, psychedelic arrangements, and dance beats. Donna blends her rich spiritual practice, sonic collages and diverse musical inspirations into a unique, world music-meets-kirtan style that’s been called “the perfect combination of earth Mama and fairy child, with a voice that oscillates between the passionate laments of Janis Joplin and the crystal clarity of Enya.”

“Playing music is my yoga,” says De Lory. “It’s my bliss. When I play, I get lost in the music, my mind stops, I am in the moment and I am free. This is a place I never want to leave.”

Available for download on Amazon.com

Manduka eQua Towel Provides Amazing Non-slip Yoga Surface

I ran three miles on the treadmill this morning and then jumped on the yoga mat for some oh so nice cool down poses. Usually when I run I sweat buckets, then by the time I unroll my yoga mat I’m dripping puddles on my mat and slipping around like an ice skater.   It’s kind of gross…and dangerous at times.  Not so today, though.  While I really do like my Black Mat, the truth is when I start sweating a lot it gets a bit slippery.  Maybe I just haven’t worn it in well enough yet.  Anyhow, I think I’ve finally found the perfect combination.

After reading the reviews about the Yogitoes Skidless Premium Mat and the Manduka eQua Towel, I decided to give the eQua Towel a try (I bought the long towel). Although I’m still trying to avoid making unnecessary, life-complicating purchases, I decided that investment in a new yoga towel might slip into an exception to the rule somehow, especially since I’ve been getting tired of feeling my hands and feet sliding out from underneath me while I’m bent over backwards in wheel pose.  Let me just say that in the few days I’ve practiced on it I’m extremely impressed with the new-found non-slip surface the eQua Towel provides when the sweat really gets dripping.  I practiced wheel pose the other day without a hint of slippage.  The towel doesn’t slip, your hands don’t slip, everything stays where it’s supposed to.  It’s awesome! Just that little extra reassurance that my hands felt on the towel made a huge difference in how I practiced the pose.

While the Yogitoes Skidless may be a great towel as well, I can certainly vouch for the eQua Towel as a great addition to your yoga practice.  Drop any questions you have about the towel in the comments and I’ll answer whatever I can based on my experience.


Yoga Journal: My Secret Guilty Pleasure

Yoga JournalYoga Journal is my secret guilty pleasure of sorts.  I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the high school locker room dude in me, but I still get uptight about people knowing that I read and enjoy a magazine that 1) is about yoga (which is still weird to a lot of people I hang out with), 2) caters heavily to women, and 3) regularly has a pink or purple cover.  Much less for reason 1 than reasons 2 and 3, I read YJ at home and take Runner’s World to work just to keep up pretenses….

But behind closed doors, YJ and I have been tight for almost eight years now.   Up until last year when I decided to declutter my office, I had every issue since 2001.  Last year, at the prompting of my lovely wife, I went back through every single page of every issue and cut out all the articles I wanted to keep and organized them in a binder.  Definitely a good project, but tearing out pages of an old friend was both disturbing and painful.  I couldn’t say how many editor’s and redesigns we’ve been through, but I can say that I’ve pretty much read every article in the last eight years, and plan on reading every article for the next eight.

Even though YJ and I have basically been together as long as I’ve been married, I’ve never really cheated on her I guess you could say with any other yoga magazines.  Unlike in my actual marriage where there’s a “don’t look, don’t touch” policy, I have on occasion looked and briefly touched other yoga publications on the racks at Barnes and Noble.  I have never, however, walked out of the store with a copy in my hand.  That would surely be cheating.  It’s never really been a temptation until the other day when I was meandering through one of the PX’s (Post Exchange for the non-military oriented) at the base I live at in Iraq (yes, I am now living in hell, or at least it feels that way sometimes:) and was shocked to see copies of both Fit Yoga and Yoga + Joyful Living nestled in between your standard Muscle & Fitness type magazines that you’d expect to find on a military base.  Now, my question is, if I were to cheat, which one should I pick?


Sticky Yoga Mats Avoid Sticky Recession

Although lots of people have cut back on luxury item purchases recently, apparently luxury yoga mat sales have never been stronger.  A Time magazine article reports that Manduka, the undisputed Porsche/Ferrari/Cadillac/[insert your favorite luxury car] of yoga mats, has seen its sales rise 55% in the first quarter of 2009.  A slightly odd trend when apparently moola is in short supply.

So, how do you explain the numbers?  One smart sounding marketing professor explained, “With hedonic consumption, at some point you’re going to feel quite a bit of guilt,” but “[i]f the luxury item has some kind of functional value, you’re not going to feel that guilt.”  I certainly can’t disagree with that assessment, especially when yoga makes you feel so good.  I also think the rise in sales simply has to do with the ever-growing number of people trying out yoga, wearing out their first yoga mat, and then deciding to upgrade.  Honestly, is there ever a bad time to buy a yoga mat?

I definitely love my Black Mat Pro (I mean everyone’s buying one so I had to get one too).  I just wish it wasn’t so heavy or I would have lugged it out to the lovely desert.  Currently I’m searching for anything that resembles a mat, luxury or otherwise.  I certainly wouldn’t mind the Manduka Prolite, but I have to draw the luxury line somewhere, so basically I’m considering using an old pink blanket a previous occupant left in my room as a yoga mat.  You do what you have to do.

And if you really want to splurge, why not just get the package deal?

Save money, Use less plastic, Buy a Sigg!

Apparently advertising works because after months of seeing Sigg water bottle ads in Yoga Journal I found myself a few days ago at the Whole Foods Market in Charlottesville, VA, dropping over $20 for a .6 L Sigg.  It wasn’t exactly an impulse purchase since I was shopping specifically for a water bottle, just not one quite that expensive.  After two days at a legal conference of buying multiple flavored beverages throughout the day, I realized that bringing my own water bottle might save me a little money (and use a lot less plastic).  So, once I came across the Sigg, it didn’t take much rationalization to convince myself that we were MFEO.

Here’s one reason why the Sigg rocks:

Many people think that they are helping the environment by refilling their plastic PET water bottles. But are you helping yourself?

“Disposable PET bottles are designed for one time use,” states Simran Sethi of The Discovery Channel. “Refilling them can release harmful toxins from the packaging – especially when it gets heated. If you’re tasting plastic, you’re ingesting plastic.”

In 2008, many major North American retailers discontinued selling reusable plastic bottles made from polycarbonate #7 (brands such as Nalgene) due to concerns that these bottles were leaching Bisphynol-A. A report by Health Canada called this chemical (BPA) “dangerous.”

And not all metal water bottles are alike. Very recently there have been major recalls of Chinese-made aluminium water bottles for lead in the paint. Tests have shown that Chinese-made aluminium water bottles, like many polycarbonate #7 plastic bottles, also leach the chemical BPA.

A SIGG Bottle is your healthy and safe choice for your body. The baked-on, crack resistant bottle liner makes sure that you drink what you want to drink – and not unwanted chemicals. The SIGG bottle liner is leach-proof and resistant even to energy drinks, fruit acids and carbonation.

SIGG bottles are manufactured in Switzerland with no BPA, no lead, no phthalates – in other word, no risk to you!

So far, I think my favorite part about the Sigg is that water actually tastes like water.  No more plastic taste, no more leftover flavors like in a plastic water bottle.  It’s really nice and I’m very happy with it.  Highly recommended!

Video Review: Yoga Foundations with Hillary Rubin

If you’re into yoga podcasts, then there’s a very good chance you know Hillary Rubin.  She has a great blog full of yoga wisdom and routines that are perfect when your home practice needs some motivation.   A certified Anusara Yoga teacher, Hillary has a great story that illustrates the power yoga has to improve lives.  Taking her teaching to the next level, Hillary recently released a DVD, Yoga Foundations with Hillary Rubin.

For the last couple weeks, both myself and my four year old daughter, Kennedy, have enjoyed lining up our yoga mats and practicing to the DVD.  It’s not too long and it’s not too short.  Kennedy is a great yoga buddy and it makes me laugh every time she calls downward facing dog “hot dog.”

One of the interesting things about Hillary’s new DVD is that I didn’t really pay attention to the title of the practice, “Yoga Foundations,” until after I was partway through it the first time and started thinking to myself how grounded my body felt as I implemented the various corrections Hillary suggested.  I was surprised at how some of the subtle adjustments Hillary recommended entirely changed the way certain poses felt.  While the main practice is not too complex or physically demanding, it effectively does what it sets out to do:  create and cultivate a strong foundation.  Highly recommended for those looking for an easy-to-follow introducation to yoga.  Kennedy gives it two thumbs up.