Yoga Stuff – All The Gear…..

Yoga mat – $10 or $100?

In recent years yoga has been described more and more frequently as an ‘industry’.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with that as it does a great job of extending the appeal of yoga and interest in the practice but at what point is all the yoga ‘stuff’ just too much?


There is so much yoga stuff out there.  Whether it be the clothing and books or the props and accessories, the choice available to us is vast.  It’s nice that everything is so readily available but there comes a point when you have to stand back and ask ‘is the $90 yoga mat is really worth it?’ What part of yoga couldn’t you do without it?

When I first started practicing yoga in drafty community centers and schools you were required to bring along a large bath towel or floor mat to practice on.  It worked.  The towels did the job of providing a clean dry surface to stand on and I’m pretty sure it did a great job of cleaning the floor too!  Then, along came the eighties, when yoga became the in thing, growing more popular by the day and,  Ta-da!, out of the yoga ether appears the ‘sticky mat’ and the birth of the yoga mat industry.

“there comes a point when you have to stand back and ask is the $90 yoga mat is really worth it?”

I recently celebrated completion of a training by treating myself to a new mat even though I already own two.  One is my very, very first mat – several years old and well used – and the second one was bought for less than ten dollars from a local consignment store.  I still use them regularly as they both do the job but, for some reason, I felt compelled to buy a new one.

The justification for this investment was that I had worked hard during the training which had taken all my free time and I’d had plenty of opportunity to peruse the retail delights of the studio I was spending so much time in.  I deserved a treat for my new, inspired yoga practice but how was a mat really going to change anything?

“no amount of ‘the right gear’ is going to change my practice.  I’m either practicing yoga or I’m not, right?”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really nice one.   Cost $50, even with the discount, and the manufacturer has a nice commitment to planting a tree for each mat purchased which appeals to my sense of environmental responsibility.  It’s a great color too – a calming lilac blue with good texture for grip and a comfortable thickness.  However, I never use it!  I still go to class using my consignment store mat which continues to serve me well.  It is a practical weight, super sticky and a dark turquoise color that disguises the feet markings from many a downward facing dog.

What made me spend so much on a new yoga mat when I already had two?  I tried to analyze my logic and over time concluded that the marketing had worked.  I’d been seduced by the yoga ‘industry’ to buy into the yoga lifestyle and, even though the brand is well known and respected, no amount of ‘the right gear’ is going to change my practice.  I’m either practicing yoga or I’m not, right?  The sporting of trendy leggings or a pair of designer yoga blocks are not going to change that.

So, with this tale in mind, think twice before being swayed by the label on the mat under your arm or the logo printed on the back of your t-shirt. Ultimately, yoga is in the practice not in the product.

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Building a Home Yoga Practice

 

The building blocks of a yoga practice

Remember when you had your exams at school.  The paper was placed in front of you and you’d have a few moments to organize your pencils, eraser, ruler, calculator or whatever other items you needed.  Then you would open the paper, read through it and decide in a moment of panic that you don’t know the answers and then proceed to organize your stuff again.

It’s not dissimilar to starting a home practice.  You lay out your mat and stack your blocks.  Fold your blanket neatly and roll your yoga strap into a tidy coil.  You sit on your mat, take a breath and then say to yourself ‘now what?’ and go back to rearranging your props.

When you come across articles about home practice it often appears to involve a whole heap of organization and commitment to finding the right spot with the right amount of time and at the right time of day but the key to actually building a home practice starts with just doing it.

Simply roll out your mat or just find a space on the floor in a place you feel comfortable in.  It might be your spare bedroom, your kitchen, your balcony or your local park.  If you need them, place your props close to hand and then do the pose or the handful of poses that you know.  Just that.  It doesn’t have to be a fancy sequence full of clever flows and interesting series of inversions, twists and standing poses, it just needs to be a pose.  One pose repeated on both sides and there begins your home practice.

The biggest obstacle to a home practice is in your head.

Forget the need to reproduce what your favorite instructor or dvd does for an hour and simply step up and start.

It may be only five minutes squeezed in while a kettle boils or thirty minutes snatched in the evening in place of the TV show you would survive without seeing anyway.

If an active, physical practice doesn’t appeal try a relaxing restorative pose.  Restorative yoga offers a great deal of positive benefits and when practiced on a daily basis is as beneficial as a full on vinyasa flow sequence.

Here’s a suggestion on how to start……

  1. Say to yourself – today I’m going to spend ten minutes doing yoga.  Making the decision to do it is often the difficult bit
  1. Find a space or roll out your mat and step on to it.  A little effort involved here but don’t overthink it.  It will take a minute
  1. Do a pose you like or can easily remember.  Doesn’t have to be sophisticated – mountain pose (tadasana) or childs pose both work.  It’s still yoga.  There,  you’ve done it
  1. Step off the mat and repeat the next day.  Takes will power to commit to the next day but you know you can do it because you just did it!
  1. When the next day comes say to yourself – today I’m going to spend ten minutes doing yoga.  As step 1 and then repeat

The biggest obstacle to a home practice is in your head.  You’ll notice that the list starts and ends with the mental commitment and nothing more.

Every journey starts with the first step so make the decision, carve out the time no matter how small, roll out your mat and step on it!

How to Make Yoga Stick in Your 2017 Routine

New years resolutions

How you doing with those resolutions?  Still cutting out sugar?  On track to finish that book this month?  Stopped checking your email every time the phone pings?


Admittedly, we’re only a couple of weeks in so you’re probably still doing well on your New Year resolutions but how do you keep it consistent?  How do you really make a change to your routine that stays part of your routine going forward?

Research shows that it takes around 30 days to build a habit.  That is just one month.  Committing to a daily yoga practice whether it be in a class environment or home practice helps to reinforce the yoga habit which will hopefully stick around for life!

Here are a few tips for keeping your yoga going…

  • At first, try and commit to just one class a week.  If you can’t set a regular day/time examine the class schedule and figure out the handful of classes that may work so that you can mix and match each week.
  • If you’re lucky enough to find the teacher you love to practice with early on find out where else he or she teaches.  You may be able to combine locations to better suit your own schedule.
  • If budget allows consider private one on one classes.
  • Avoid the mindset of having to attend a full, extended 90minute session of yoga every single day creating unreasonable expectations on yourself.  Work on the idea of a manageable smaller, bite size daily practice to maintain your yoga habit.
  • If the studio, gym or location doesn’t give you that warm fuzzy feeling and you don’t feel inspired, try somewhere else.  A lot of the obstacles in attending class arise from the lack of connection you feel to the teachers and the teaching environment.  If it doesn’t speak to you, go elsewhere.
  • Once you’ve attended a few classes, make a mental note of some of the poses or part of a sequence.  Even if it is only two poses or a ten minute sequences down it forms the beginnings of a home practice.
  • Avoid the mindset of having to attend a full, extended 90minute session of yoga every single day creating unreasonable expectations.
  • Consider the idea of a more manageable, bite size daily practice to maintain your yoga habit.
  • If it is impossible to get to classes during the week consider signing up for weekend workshops that interest you.
  • If you have a yoga mat, lay it out somewhere at home.  When you are about to sit in front of the TV try stepping on to the mat instead.
  • Lastly, be mindful of other habits in your life that distract your time and attention.  Sometimes, to make space for new habits we need to lose some of the old ones.  I know, easier said than done but, for example, consider how much time you spend online.  You may just discover an extra 30 minutes in your day!

Keep your resolution alive by keeping your yoga practice growing.  As described in the classic yoga text The Yoga Sutras, ‘when it is harder not to practice than to practice then yoga becomes firmly grounded and an integral part of life’.

How have you managed to keep your yoga going?