Repurposing yoga mats is huge

It’s hard to imagine a yoga studio without colorful yoga mats lined up on the floor. But the helpful, sticky pads have only been around since the ’60s.

London-born yoga teacher Angela Farmer suffered from a rare disorder that didn’t let her hands and feet sweat. As a teenager, she was practicing with the famous yogi B.K.S. Iyengar on a wood floor in winter and it was so dry she kept slipping. He wouldn’t let her use anything under her to stop her sliding or put water on her hands to help her stick to the floor. Later, while practicing in Germany, she cut out a piece of carpet cushion and the yoga mat was born.

There’s always been backlash against the yoga mat, but it’s a challenge to practice without one. Being without a mat makes you work in a more concise way, and a less showboaty way, because you have to use your own body to support the base of the pose instead of the stickiness of the mat.

So if you decide to quit using your mat, what do you do with all the mats you’ve acquired through the years? Or maybe your mat is just plain worn out. It doesn’t seem right to just throw it away. How can you repurpose your yoga mat? Here are a few ideas.

Cut them into bright stair treads for the way down to the basement or up to the kids’ rooms.
Use them in the garden to block weeds as you cultivate and reclaim new beds.
Form and Fauna makes shoes out of used yoga mats and Sanuk makes sandals.
Cut them into squares and keep them on hand to open tough jars.
Use them under furniture to keep it from scratching the floor or sliding around.
Use them as drawer liners.
Use one as a doorstop.
Line kitchen shelves.
Or line the shelves in your workshop.
Cut off a corner, clean it well (you can put it in the dishwasher) and roll it up to use as a stopper for a wine bottle.
Put a cut piece under the dog bowl.
Use them under paper as puppy pads when training your new puppy.
Line the bottom of your trash can.
Put them under throw rugs or carpet runners so they don’t slip.
Cut out a foot bed and use it as an insole liner of your shoes for extra cushioning.
Put a piece under your drain tray.
Use to stop the drain in the bathtub or sink.
Cut out a large square to put on top of the fridge so that you can use that space for storage and then whisk it off for easy cleaning of hard-to-reach dust bunnies.
Put them under planters to absorb overflow water.
Line your bookshelves to keep the books from sliding off a half-filled row.
Put the whole mat down in the bathtub to keep you from slipping in the shower.
Use in your potting shed for easy cleanup and to keep potting soil from going to waste: Just scoop up the whole mat and dump the spilled soil back in the bag.
Use as a crop cover on frost warning nights.
Use as a portable baby-changing table.
Cut them into floor mats for the car.
Have an art day with the kids and cut the edges into fun patterns for placemats. They also make colorful pads for underneath art projects, and they clean up quick with a wet sponge.
Use as a ground cloth for camping — under your tent or under your sleeping bag
Use as a picnic blanket at outdoor yoga festivals.
Use as an impromptu umbrella in a rainstorm. (I’ll admit it: I’ve done this!)
However you choose to practice, whether on the mat or off, choose to do something practical with your old mat. Keep them out of the landfill, and keep them sparking yoga conversations in the strangest of places.

 

Why morning yoga beats a cup of coffee

Looking for a way to get your blood pumping in the morning? Want to give your morning yoga routine a boost? Take a cue from Tarzan and Jane, then greet the sun with a salute.

First thing in the morning, maybe during your yoga sequence, try beating on your chest. Seriously.

Beat all over your ribcage, up to your collarbone, down to your belly (gently around the breasts, ladies … ). Thumping, beating, banging on your chest, wakes up your internal energy, the energy running through the meridian channels in the body. Thumping gets the energy moving forward, after a night when your energy runs backward and slows, allowing the body to rejuvenate during sleep. Thumping is like the simian cup of coffee, and stimulates your kidney, thymus and spleen energy to help get you ready to digest your breakfast and digest your day. Start your morning yoga off by thumping, then move on to a whole-body integrated wake-up.

Now that you’ve unleashed your inner jungle ferocity, let’s move on. Many of you know that the sun salutation is one of the best ways to warm up the body. It stretches you into every position possible: backbend, forward bend, inversion, twist, extension. But something even cooler about this ubiquitous yoga sequence is going on. It helps keep you young! In a study published last year in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention, it was determined that getting up off the floor with as little assistance as possible was a fairly accurate predictor of longevity. In other words, if you can get down to the floor without using your hands to help you, and then get back up again, you have a higher likelihood of living a longer life.

So … enter sun salutations.

Start standing up straight in mountain pose, arms by your side. Inhale and open the arms out wide, either low, by your waist, or overhead. Exhale and lean all the way forward, hanging the body over. Beginners can keep knees slightly bent. Inhale and come back up again, opening the heart and arms. Do this a few more times, matching the breath to the movement. Just this motion of lifting up and lowering over starts to get the blood moving.

morning yoga – downward facing dog, adho muhka svanasanaNext time you come over, bring your hands all the way to the ground and step back to downward dog (shown at right). Stay in this pose for five to eight breaths, moving the body as you breathe. Pedal out the feet, stretch the spine. Don’t let your dog be static, but let the breath start to move the body and wake it up. Next come into push-up position (plank pose) and hold this for 10 to 15 breaths. If you weren’t awake yet, this should do it!

morning yoga – lunge with a twistFrom here, step your right foot forward between your hands into a lunge and, using your core strength, release your arms by lifting them up and overhead. Keep your left leg rooted in the ground, straight and strong. You can play with inhaling, straightening the front leg into a high lunge, and exhale to bend again, or stay in this low lunge and feel the groins start to soften and open. Now gently twist your upper torso, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, or keep your left arm on the floor and bring the right arm up (shown at right). Breathe here deeply. Then bring your hands back down to the floor and press back to downward dog. Switch sides, lunging and twisting with the left foot forward.

morning yoga – Chair pose, utkatasanaBack to downward dog for a couple of breaths, and then come into a squat. Use a blanket rolled up under your heels if they don’t reach the ground, and again, try a spinal twist, turning and lifting one arm, then the other up to the sky. From your squat, lift up into chair pose (shown here), knees bent and torso straight and breathe here for five breaths. On an inhale, press to stand, arching up at the top and opening the arms wide. If you went from squat to chair to stand, you just managed to stand up without using your hands to help you. If this was difficult, then you need to practice. Go slowly, using your core strength and your arms to help you. If you put this into your daily morning yoga routine, in about a week you should be able to go from standing, down to the floor to standing again.

You can do this whole sequence a few times.

Mountain pose, full forward bend, downward dog, low lunge to high lunge, spinal twist, downward dog, low lunge to high lunge to spinal twist on the other side, downward dog, squat, chair pose, mountain pose. Take a moment after this to lie on your back in corpse pose and let your body digest the effects. Then you have one more chance to stand without using your hands.

After you’re complete, swing your body out, back and forth a few times. Take another few deep breaths. Thump your chest a few more times. And then head out into your day!

You’ll live longer, breathe better, and be happier.

 

Awesome Plus-Sized Yogi Fights to Change The “Typical Yoga Body”

Say the word “yoga” and you might think: skinny arms, tragic juice cleanses, Gwyneth Paltrow. But Jessamyn Stanley, who identifies as a queer fat femme and yoga instructor, believes the practice should belong to everyone. Her Instagram account, which features images of her performing a various array of easy-to-almost-impossible yoga poses, is now home to 55,000 followers. As Stanley explains it, there is no typical yoga body—nor should there ever be.

Stanley came to yoga the same way many people came to yoga—via a Groupon. Stanley has since spent the past four years learning yoga, and has since moved on to teaching it. As Stanley told New York Magazine, placing a “typical yoga body” (read: white, thin) at the front of the classroom, “creates more of an aspirational experience than an inspirational one. It doesn’t actually elicit what yoga should give people.” In recent years, more and more classes have opened up for plus-sized people. Stanley noted that yoga classes for larger-bodied people “tend to be gentle,” and while gentle yoga can be great, opportunities should widen. “There’s so much opportunities in everyone’s bodies,” Stanley said.

You can follow Stanley here, or look-and-like her Instagram here. Below are some of the photos bound to make you happy/inspired/outrageously jealous.

SIPABOARD ELECTRIC SELF-INFLATING SUP

We love hitting the water on our stand up paddleboards, but we’d be lying if we said the large size wasn’t a pain in the butt to store and transport. The team at SipaBoards is looking to revolutionize the young water sport, developing the world’s first smart, self-inflating, electric SUP.

Using the included compressor, the board inflates automatically in just 5 minutes. Once inflated, that same motor that got you out on the water, helps you glide through the water. The built-in, emission-free jet propulsion system provides electric assistance for up to 3 hours, helping you reach speeds of up to 3.5 knots on near auto-pilot. The motor’s controls are built right into the handle of the paddle, and for safety purposes, shuts off if you happen to drop the paddle into the water. Once your done hitting the water, this thing deflates in moments and folds up with ease, getting you back on the road in no time flat.

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6 Ways to Make Yoga Less Intimidating for Beginners

If you feel slightly terrified to walk into a yoga class for the first time because you think it will be pretentious and awkward, your might be right. Too often, new students feel uncomfortable or secluded by inaccessible poses, vague instructions or elitist attitudes. As a beginner to yoga, you should feel empowered and engaged by the teachings – not isolated or overwhelmed by new, esoteric ideas.

Yoga should be as accessible and safe as learning to ride a bike. A quality yoga class is welcoming and comfortable for everyone willing to give it a try. Strong yoga teachers facilitate an experience that has depth without making students feel like they are entering a cult. Here’s how yoga instructors can make class accessible to new students so they can work toward developing a deeper practice:

1. Ditch the yoga jargon.

Yoga jargon makes people feel excluded and confused. The more basic and understandable a teacher explains ideas, the more the instructor will connect with students. When teachers use Sanskrit (the yoga language), they should define the word in English. When teachers speak with their own authentic voice and sense of humor, it shines through. In those classes, students feel like they get a more personal and genuine class.

2. Be powerful, not preachy.

Students do not come to yoga to be lectured or to have a therapy session. As a yoga teacher for men, I cringe when I hear how many first-time male students are completely discouraged and annoyed by teachers’ condescending tones. It’s challenging enough to get new students to try yoga. Why are we making it harder?

Yoga is not a school – it is a practice. People come to yoga to put their intentions into action, and to become grounded by moving intelligently. There is a richness and a deeper sense of subtle awareness and connectivity in yoga. Yoga teachings should feel meaningful, but shouldn’t push an agenda or make students uncomfortable. A good class leaves you feeling empowered, not belittled or guilty.

3. Chant less, pant more.

Everyday people do not understand the ancient yoga language and the chants, let alone the meaning behind them. I personally love the language of yoga, but I understand that – unless you have a significant amount of time to teach students why you are chanting and what you are saying in plain English – it is not comprehensible.

If teachers chant complicated yoga sounds during a class, it may be challenging to keep the interest of new students, who are often reluctant to try yoga in the first place. For example, chanting the sounds of the chakras – “Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Om” – requires hours of teaching for students to even begin to understand the chakras and their relevance. It can also make beginners feel singled out.

It makes more sense to offer aspiring yoga teachers – not beginners – in-depth studies on the energetic body and their mantras. If teachers decide to chant in their classes, I suggest they keep it to a minimum and get students moving.

4. Develop a simple and meaningful philosophy.

New students often come to yoga because they want something more than a mindless workout. Yoga has a deeper meaning than just its physical practice. Teachers should be careful to present the philosophy in class in a way that does not make students feel awkward. If instructors come across as if they are talking down to students, or claim to be more spiritually advanced, they’ll only alienate the people they’re trying to inspire.

Ancient yoga philosophy is interesting and fun to learn, but it’s a topic that can be inaccessible to beginners. The notion that people can obtain nirvana, or transcend this world, is not something anyone can honestly talk about. If you put someone on this pedestal of power, it is a recipe for disaster. Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, is the latest example: After building a loyal following, he’s now accused of sexual assault and rape.

Other yoga teachings have evolved to take on a more progressive view of the practice. They are not concerned with something beyond this life, but focus on savoring the one in which we live. Classes that weave in practical philosophy that is relevant to day-to-day life will be well-received.

5. Clear landmarks and modifications.

Each yoga pose has a logical progression toward its fullest expression. There are clear physical landmarks that are great measures for healthy alignment. These landmarks are normally instructed with simple “if, then” statements. For example, “If you can touch the floor in a standing forward fold, then actively work toward straightening your legs.”

Every class has a wide range of student levels. It’s imperative that modifications are offered to people who are working with injuries and other limitations. Two blocks, a blanket and a strap for each student are ideal props for most all-levels classes. Students can make it easier on themselves by learning to use the props in a way that keeps the poses safe and efficient.

6. Keep it simple and sustainable.

It’s easy to complicate yoga poses and make a class difficult to follow in an effort to be overly creative. The most simple, efficient instructions work best. First, teachers should name the pose and get everyone into it as clearly and quickly as possible. Once everyone is in the basic shape of the pose, they should help students explore the pose with subtle cues.

Many teachers get caught up with stringing together multiple poses, or sequencing them in a way that is unique. The basic postures work. If done correctly, they are powerful and can be made as challenging as advanced postures. My suggestion to teachers is to go more in depth into the basics rather than trying to force students into complicated poses.

Blending Yoga and Street Art

As the daughter of an art teacher father and sign painter mother, Chicago yoga instructor Soren Buchanan grew up surrounded by the visual arts. During her time in college in Florida, her own keen interest in street art began to emerge: “I began noticing, photographing and jumping fences to get to street art and graffiti.” Her second passion, however, didn’t emerge until she left Miami in 2009. “I spent my first Midwestern winter shocked, frozen and hiding from the cold,” Soren says. “I knew I needed to adapt and create my own warmth. Yoga was the answer.”

Thriving in Chicago’s vibrant urban art scene, it was an easy decision for Soren to marry her love of yoga and street murals through the images that she shares. As she tells it, “I hope to accent the art, complement it with human interaction — and yoga provides endless possibilities for shapes and expression.” As Soren develops her own community, she broadens the reach for the artists she highlights. “Artist recognition is very important to me. If people are drawn to my images, they need to know who I am collaborating with,” she explains. “I hope to bring attention to artists who, other than on the streets, might have limited venues showcasing their art and sharing their styles.”

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US Court Finds School Yoga Does Not Violate Religious Freedom After Parents’ Complaint

A California court has ruled that yoga classes taught at an elementary school do not violate students’ right to religious freedom, after parents complained Hindu and Buddhist doctrines were being promoted.

The parents of two students at an Encinitas district school near San Diego said the yoga classes, which were taught as part of the school’s physical education curriculum, infringed on their children’s constitutional rights.

The First Amendment bans school-sponsored religious promotion and prayer.

After a years-long court battle, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego has ruled the courses are not faith-based.

“We conclude that the program is secular in purpose, does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion and does not excessively entangle the school district in religion,” Justice Cynthia Aaron wrote.

“The district’s yoga program does not violate our state constitution.”

The decision upholds an earlier ruling of a lower court, which the parents had sought to appeal.

Yoga, an exercise that promotes stretching and breathing, often incorporates spiritual elements from Eastern faiths.

It has become popular in the West, and many practices in North America do not incorporate the religious aspects of the practice.

What Is Tibetan Dream Yoga?

Tibetan Dream Yoga is a complex practice that belongs to tantra. It must be performed at the right time, respecting the preparation and proper mental state. Tibetan Dream Yoga is one of six subtypes of yoga elaborated by the Tibetan guru Marpa passed down to his well-known disciple, Milarepa. If we try to practice this type of yoga prematurely, we won’t benefit from it and we won’t be able to properly carry it out anyway. In order to enrich our knowledge regarding this issue, we can look into the book of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Yogas Of Dream And Sleep; it explains various aspects of this practice and offers great insights regarding this matter.

The objective of Tibetan Dream Yoga practice is to perceive the waking stage as a dream state. It is therefore necessary to integrate the dream into meditation. This requires understanding and prior control of what happens during the dreams.

On this line, we should get familiar with this state, then regard the waking stage as the dream. However, if we are on the move, walking or driving, imagining that it is a dream, it may entail some problems.

In general, our dreams are cloudy, hardly ever clear: this way of perceiving things represents an obstacle. In the human body, the subtle energy center and the dream state’s consciousness lies in the neck. Specific practices, which consist of penetrating this level, allow us to increase our focus in this area, and the clarity that we need in order to perceive this state better. The body has several energy centers: for instance, in the one of the head, the consciousness’ energies flow in the waking stage; in the heart’s center – there are the energies belonging to the consciousness of the deep sleep of death. Whether it is in a waking stage or in sleep mode, one of the important tasks of consciousness is to build a model of the surrounding world we experience. In waking stage, this model is based on sensory data, the best source of information on the environment. To the extent that this model helps us survive, the construction of the world requires consideration of our current needs, emotions and goals.

Due to the fact that during sleep we only have access to very little sensory information on the environment, our representation of the world is built upon our motivations and expectations on what is “susceptible” to occur, and the amassed information from previous experiences. Therefore, what occurs in dreams, whether lucid or not, is largely determined by our expectations.

In ordinary dreams, we are limited by our assumptions on the possible things from our past experience in the material world. Instead, lucid dreamers know that in the dream the law of gravity is not valid, so nothing prevents them from flying; and they really do fly with great pleasure.

“Take this very moment and treat it as if you just realized that you were dreaming. See what happens.” – Unknown quote.

Yogis Pose on the Edge of 600-Foot Cliffs in Moab, Utah

In “Asamprajnata” by Trimr fitness bottles, elite athletes perform complicated yoga poses while perched on top of 600-foot cliffs in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.

Yoga is the power to overcome outside forces and focus on your innersole. But a couple of athletes took it to a whole new level by going to the majestic pillars of Moab and performing acrobatic yoga on the edge of 600 ft cliffs. Completely unharnessed with a little more than a foot next to the edge these athletes drowned out the outside world and focused inwardly as they performed some of the most complicated yoga positions and moves.

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Things That You Only Know If You Do Yoga

Yoga. You successfully avoid it for years: it’s not a real workout, yogis act morally superior in their lack-of-judgment-on-all-things (just say something bitchy already!) and you’re not skinny enough anyway. Green juice is for assholes, nobody can possibly really be that chill, and yoga pants are HOW MUCH?!

But then, the bug strikes and you’re hooked. A whole new world opens, and you’re powerless to its charms. The scariest thing? You wouldn’t have it any other way. 

1. Poop. Your poop is so good.

Nothing holds a person back from enjoying day-to-day life than a whack digestive tract. Real talk. The most miserable, sluggish, resistant-to-life people are FOR SURE the ones not taking a regular dump. Productive poopers are productive people! Yoga stimulates the digestive tract through internal massage to the organs, and oh baby it feels so good. Now you’re not literally carrying around shit, you don’t metaphorically carry around shit. It’s a revelation.

2. But… Poop needs to be scheduled

That second cup of coffee you had right before class? That was a mistake. And it’s a mistake you’ll make more than once. A well-timed poop is an art, and you’ll get there. You will. Oh God, you spend so much time thinking about, discussing, and planning your poop now. Your real life friends just do not understand. And that’s why you’ve got:

3. Yoga Buddies a.k.a.The Life Force

Friends from yoga do not judge when you accidentally say in conversation: I just really need to focus on my energy realignment today, you know? They’re the first ones to follow up on your poop schedule, and the quickest to high-five you when you finally open up your hips wide enough to do a full leg stretch in bird of paradise. They have time for days to dissect the emotional journey a great plough pose can take you on, and never judge you for the $100 you just spent on getting your birth chart read by the instructor you just gets you. Also, there’s always the yoga buddy just’s that little bit more #YogaWanker than you are, thus proving to the regular, non-yogic world that you’re not that bad.

4. Workout clothes are hot

When you yoga, it becomes a ~lifestyle~ and in that lifestyle, there are patterned full-length cotton leggings that make your ass look better than any Spanx, and cute spaghetti-strapped sports bras that peak out just right from off-the-shoulder t-shirts and man-sized tank tops that beautifully skim your curves. Other clothes can cease to exist now, thanks, because yoga gear just feelsgood. Sexy. You’re good to throw up a messy bun and do nothing but fill out your eyebrows a little til the end of all time – it takes five minutes to get ready, now, and somehow you look better than when you try to get fancy. Go figure.

5. THE SEX.

Okay, so yes: yoga can make you more flexible. That’s a given, and a lot of fun to play with. But beyond that: yoga makes us wet. Women, the Journal of Sexual Medicine reports that chicks who practice yoga tend to get enhanced lubrication, with a more powerful orgasm because of our strengthened pelvic floor, too. WHY DON’T THEY PUT THIS ON THE FLYERS???

6. Your definition of sexy changes

Did you see the way the sweat ran down his back in reverse warrior? Holy shit. Yoga isn’t about the most Instagram-able poses and fastest movement: the best yogi is the one who has mastered their breath. Yoga becomes about control and intention – purposeful, deliberate movement. When you’re beside the guy or girl absolutely devoted to their practice, breathing in unison with the teacher’s instruction and really focused on not only reaching the pose, but everything leading up to the pose? You know you’re onto somebody who’s figured out foreplay. That’s basically what yoga is: intentional, slow, measured warm-up that climaxes in a pose. Find the one who demonstrates that and you’ve got the one who will not only fuck, but use their body and their mind to seduce you. Oh mama.

7. You become a total #YogaWanker, but are absolutely okay with that

What happens on the mat impacts your whole life: you adopt Ujjayi breath in moments of pressure or anxiety, meditate on your daily intention before you even get out of bed in the morning, and find yourself saying things like, it’s just like figuring out tripod headstand, you know? at brunch with friends. The deeper you get into your practice, the more of your boy drama and work woe starts to slip away, because baby: none of it matters. Your trust yourself, now.

8. You sweat from places you never knew it was possible to sweat from

Was that… did the bead of sweat actually just come from yourarmpit crease? Wait. Can knees sweat too? Don’t even get started on the ass-crack sweat.

9. You live to fall on your face

In yoga, you can’t slither into Scorpion pose without first collapsing onto your face about 3,000 times. Falling over means you’re trying, and the sound of you thudding onto your mat is the sound of you living your best life. That makes you braver, and off the mat, too: suddenly, you’re not as afraid of yourself anymore. If you fall over, you’ll just pick yourself back up. As in yoga, as in life.

10. You’re zen as fuck

Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing a deep relaxation. Yoga reduces levels of cortisol, too – the stress hormone. Most of us have too much cortisol in our system, and this can cause high blood pressure, low immunity, heighten inflammation and decrease muscle tissue. You don’t have to worry about any of that anymore, though, because you’re zen as fuck and it feels so good. So good, that…

11. You want to get certified

It gets to a point – three days or three weeks or three years in – where that’s it. You’re moving to Bali to get your 200-hour teaching training certificate. You can’t not. You have to spread the yogic word, you guys. This is like, your purpose. Yoga could save the world. Namaste.

via ThoughtCatalog