8 great places to source a yoga mat

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8 Great Places to Source a Yoga Mat
The great thing about yoga is that it is such a portable practice.  Once you have a few of the poses down it’s easy to practice anywhere you have space to roll out your mat.

There are many accessories and props you can purchase to assist your yoga practice (which I would recommend investing in over time) but when starting out the most important yoga item to have is a mat and, for that, you have many options.

The key thing to bear in mind is that yoga mats need to be ‘sticky’ in the sense that they grip well when you are working on them.  Some mats have a texture to them which really helps with grip.  Initially, you may find the mat surface to have a light, slippery sheen but this breaks down with use.  You can always help break up the surface a little by rubbing with a cotton cloth.

Around 3-4mm is a great thickness for a yoga mat as it offers some cushioning to the body but isn’t so thick that it is like stepping on to a camping mattress.

1  Borrow one.  Most studios do have yoga mats available to borrow so if you are not too particular about using a mat other students have used then this is a good option to start.

2  Borrow one (again!).  From a family member or friend.  Another good way to check out a yoga class without committing to buying something you may use three times before it’s on the yard sale pile.  Which leads me to number 3

3  If you’re a yard sale, rummage sale or thrift store fiend, keep an eye out.  I’ve seen mats at yard sales with the cellophane wrap still intact – an unwanted gift for the seller but a gem find for you!

4 Look for a bargain.  Stores like TJ Maxx and Ross are both bursting with deals and it’s well worth a look here for a bargain priced mat.  Sometimes branded with a name you may recognise, sometimes not.  I’ve seen mats in both stores for twenty bucks and lower.

5  Target.  It doesn’t really matter what you’re looking for – Target will always provide!  They have a yoga section with a great selection of yoga gear.  Mats are in the $20 – $30 dollar range.

6  Sports shops.  Sports shops do stock yoga mats just be careful not to pick up the typical ‘gym’ type mat which is often much thicker, spongier and more slippery than a yoga mat.

7  Specialised Yoga & Fitness clothing stores. There are a few of these around now.  Some of them carry great quality yoga mats but you might want to be doing some deep yogic breathing when you read the prices!

8  The studio.  Many studios have a retail area where you can buy, among other things, yoga mats.  These are generally well established yoga brands which are great in quality but do come at a price.

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Restorative Yoga & Essential Oils

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The Perfect Balance of Restorative Yoga & Essential Oils

Look on any yoga schedule today and there is a good chance that nestled away somewhere between Hatha Level 1 and Vinyasa Flow is a Restorative yoga class.


If you haven’t experienced a restorative yoga class you can expect a very calming experience set at a relaxed pace with an opportunity to totally destress as your body surrenders into yoga props.  Sounds good, no?

‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds’ 

Restorative yoga is rapidly gaining popularity because of its ability to help manage the stress overload we experience in our day to day lives.  Combined with the use of essential oils, restorative yoga is a practice that will bring the body and mind into balance.

Props used in a restorative practice include folded and rolled blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks along with additional support from a wall or chair for some poses.  The use of multiple props arranged to suit the student’s specific physical needs enables them to hold a fully rested position for an extended period of time.

Susan Kjesbo, a certified Yoga Therapist, describes restorative yoga as ‘active relaxation where the body is supported with props to give the message to the body to let go’ and in a typical class you will be able to do just that.

A class or workshop will consist of just a handful of poses where the whole body is fully supported and each individual pose is held for several minutes.  These very relaxed physical positions initiate a response where the breath deepens and physical and mental stresses can release.

A restorative yoga practice offers great health benefits and in Susan’s experience ‘students are trying restorative yoga and feeling the difference in their bodies and minds when they walk out of class and are coming back for more’.

Susan is also passionate about the use of essential oils as a complement to a restorative yoga practice.  When oils make contact with the skin they are absorbed into the tissues affecting the body as a whole and, through our sense of smell, are linked to the part of our brains associated with emotion and memory which, in turn, can influence mood and mindset.

‘stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern life and the use of essential oils and a regular restorative yoga practice are great additions to our self care routines’,  Susan Kjesbo.

If you are just getting started with essential oils, she suggests using lavender for its calming properties.  ‘You can place a drop in your hands and breathe the scent from your hands or rub it in to the bottom of your feet’.  If you are keen to learn more about essential oils, she also recommends that students ‘find someone knowledgable to work with or use a good reference book such as Modern Essentials’ in order to get the greatest benefit.

As we try to keep up with ever more frantic and over scheduled lives so stress has become one of the biggest health challenges of modern living. A regular restorative yoga practice and the use of essential oils are perfect additions to our personal self care routines because, as Susan points out, ‘we all operate better from a place of centeredness rather than frenzy’.

To see Susan’s teaching schedule visit www.Susankjesbo.com

Susan’s go to brand for essential oils is doTerra.

Want more visual stuff? Take a peek at her Instagram page @therapyyogi

 

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Yoga Styles – so much choice….

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So many choices – which yoga style works for you?
Choice is a great thing but, as you may have experienced when buying yoga pants or coffee, sometimes you can have waaaay too much choice!

Brand new students have so many yoga options that choosing can be overwhelming. As the popularity of yoga has grown so have the number of styles and schools of yoga.

Here are just a handful common to many studios…..

Hatha Yoga is the term, if you like, for the physical aspect of yoga, i.e. the poses or asanas.  Any yoga class with physical poses is a hatha yoga class.  Broadly speaking a class described as hatha yoga will be a gentler, slower paced class suitable for beginners.  However, sometimes a hatha yoga class will be described as having different levels so it’s worth a call to the studio to check.  what makes it unique?  It is taught by instructors from different backgrounds and schools of study so every teacher will have a different style and interpretation.

Vinyasa loosely translates as ‘flow’.  Flow or vinyasa yoga is a faster moving and warming sequence that transitions quickly through mixed sequences of poses.  what makes it unique?  It is a more challenging yoga class that is unique to individual instructors as poses are linked and presented in creative ways.

Ashtanga  A very popular style of yoga bought to the West by a yoga pioneer from India called Patthabi Jois.  It is an athletic form of yoga that is fast moving and flowing (vinyasa – see above) and a popular choice for those who enjoy a challenging yoga class.  what makes it unique?  It is a set sequence of poses which are always practiced in the same order, every time.

Brand new yoga students have so many options to choose from which can be totally overwhelming.

Iyengar yoga is another of the very popular schools of yoga brought to the West by yoga master, BKS Iyengar.  It is often credited as the style of yoga that influences many of today’s styles of yoga.  It is a slower paced class where poses are held for longer and lots of props (blankets, yoga blocks & yoga straps) are used for support.  Even though it is slower paced it can still be challenging.  what makes it unique?  Focused attention to alignment in the poses with lots of verbal instruction and adjustment.  Iyengar classes always use yoga props.  

Hot Yoga  This style of yoga has gained popularity in recent years.  One of the original hot yoga schools is Bikram yoga.  what makes it unique?  Pre heated rooms to start with creating very hot & sweaty environments.  Quite often, a fixed sequence of poses are practiced depending on the school of yoga.

Restorative Yoga  is becoming more and more popular in studios, restorative yoga is a much more quiet style of yoga that incorporates lots of props (blankets, bolsters & blocks) to support the body in active relaxation.  Poses are set up on the floor with the body fully supported to ensure complete release.  what makes it unique?  Total relaxation and surrender of the body without any physical effort as the body is supported to the individuals need with blankets, bolsters and yoga blocks.

As the popularity of yoga has grown so have the number of styles and schools of yoga.

Therapeutic Yoga  is building in popularity as we have all become more aware of our own health and interested in our own self care. what makes it unique?  Taught by very experienced instructors with in depth yoga therapy training it focuses more attention on specific issues such as injuries or physical conditions.

Yin Yoga  poses apply moderate stress to the connective tissues of the body—the tendons, fascia, and ligaments—with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility whilst quietening the mind with longer pose holds.  what makes it unique? Similar to restorative yoga in that the poses are held for long periods but the intention is less relaxation and more of opening the body.

Ultimately, Yoga is a practice that is unique to you so choose the class that appeals and enjoy!

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7 Top Tips for a Happy First Yoga Class

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7 Top Tips for a Happy First Yoga Class

Joining a yoga class as a new student can be a daunting experience but with a little advance preparation it can be the start of a life changing journey


I love yoga and would recommend anyone to give it a try but I also understand that, for some, the first visit to a class can be intimidating.

I’ve attended many classes, both as a student and as an instructor, where I’ve observed new students’ first class nerves.  Initially, attending a class can be daunting but as the unfamiliar becomes familiar and the student becomes more comfortable in the studio surroundings then yoga begins to work its magic.

Here are 7 top tips to ease you into a class and ensure a happy first yoga class experience!

  1. word of mouth  If you can get a recommendation of a teacher/studio from a like minded friend this is an excellent place to start.  You have a ready made connection to the instructor and studio.
  2. arrive early  There will be a little bit of paperwork to complete and a few extra minutes will give you the chance to familiarize yourself – well, find the restroom and water fountain location, at least!
  3. choose beginner  Not because I’m saying you’re no good at yoga before you’ve even started!  A beginners class is always a good place to start (or level 1/intro class/new to yoga or however else a studio describes it).   No matter how athletic, fit or flexible you may be,  a beginners class will give you a better understanding of the poses and important alignment points at an easier to follow pace.
  4. chat to the instructor  If at all possible, grab a moment to introduce yourself and chat about any concerns.  Most instructors will approach you if but sometimes, with instructors arriving close to class start and large student numbers in popular classes, there is not always an opportunity.
  5. keep an open mind  Different instructors teach yoga in different styles.  One instructor might teach a slower class with lots of quiet, meditative time.  Another teacher’s class might be faster paced with lots of repetition of poses and background music.  Try to be open minded and if your first class isn’t the one for you give someone else a go.
  6. dress comfortably  Wear the clothes that feel comfortable for you.   Remember that some of the poses involve bending forward and twisting.  If those low rise pants ride down when you fold forward don’t wear them.  Or that top is sooo low neck that you’re constantly adjusting it just don’t go there.  Think ease of movement and personal comfort.  A t-shirt and stretchy leggings work just as well as the latest body forming fashion outfit
  7. sense of humor & a smile  Arm yourself with a sense of humor and anything is possible 🙂

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Popularity of Yoga

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The Ever Rising Popularity of Yoga

I Googled ‘benefits of yoga’ the other day and it came up with over 41 million results.  Yikes! But just for the sake of balance, I also googled ‘negatives of yoga’.  Up popped a few hundred thousand results.  Hardly scientific, I know, but it did strike me that there are a lot of people interested in the benefits and practice of yoga.

A recent research report called ‘2016 Yoga in America’ conducted by Yoga Journal (a popular yoga magazine) and the Yoga Alliance (a kind of umbrella administrative organisation for yoga) found that approximately 37million Americans are practicing yoga today in 2016.  37 million!

This is a phenomenal number and, get this, even more amazing – apparently this is an increase from 20 million in 2012.  An additional 17 million yogis in the space of only four years.

yoga truly is a practice for everyone and is not just the domain of the young, fit and strong

Clearly, yoga is becoming more and more popular year on year and we, as a nation, are more informed about the benefits of the practice.  According to findings in the same report almost a third of those practicing yoga are over 55 proving that yoga truly is a practice for everyone and is not just the domain of the young, fit and strong – the common misconception and stereotypical image we are fed through the media.

Yoga attracts a very broad demographic.  All ages from kids through to seniors with more and more guys picking up the mat too.

As yoga’s popularity grows, so do the opportunities for us to study yoga whether it is through a class, online video, phone app, DVD, book or magazine.  Never has there been this much choice to study yoga and long may it continue.

If you want to learn more about the report’s findings go take a peak at the Yoga Alliance website on yogaalliance.org.  It makes for interesting reading.

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