I’m new to Plank and a long time fitness and health enthusiast. My background is in sales and relationship building and I am coming to Plank to help grow the business. I am excited about joining a team that is grounded in its mission and products. Plank Yoga Mats have been developed with the intention of moving a yoga student forward in their practice. Their low-tech mechanism asks the user to create their best work on the mat and it guides them to correct themselves along the way. The Plank Yoga Mat has created a solid foundation in my own yoga practice and I am a re-invigorated yoga student that finally feels confident to practice outside of a studio. Grounded feet and hands will lead to all sorts of miracles! (in this photo I am totally out of balance- wish I had my Plank Yoga Mat with me.)
At Plank, we’re currently looking for studios and teachers who care about cultivating a profound, grounded practice for their community.
We want those who are curious to learn how Plank’s instant power, stability training tools, and workshops can deepen and expand their businesses and their students’ practices.
Plank’s Connect Yoga Mat are aimed at yoga practioners who are interested in taking their yoga practice to the next level. Bla, bla, bla… I know you’ve possibly heard me, as well as, some other yoga mat company say this before, so my practice is to, stop. However it is still a fact that it matters to me that Plank mat users know I really do care that each and everyone of you is able to find solidity, security, power and ease in poses when you use our mats. But how can this be if Plank mats aren’t super grippy.
When you practice on your tradionally grippy yoga mat or the first time you use a Plank Yoga Mat and you feel heavy in your shoulders or are collapsing onto your wrists, or if you were to practice without a mat you would slip, consider more than likely, it’s you who is the problem, not the mat and that there is more to learn to construct a pose for it feel effortless and light. Our customers do not want to rely on a grippy yoga mat that will hold them in poses even if the poses are poorly constructed. Our users are more interested in learning what occurs on a bio-mechanical level when the actions of specific body parts connects to a yoga mat and how the quality of this contact, has a dramatic impact on the correct formation of the body shapes created in a yoga practice.
Innovation in the yoga mat industry has been nominal, the traditional mindset is to create grippier and grippier yoga mats, however it is worth considering that any product that makes an activity easier without a system for self awareness or learning, has the potential to slow down the learning curve and could contribute to concerns of increased injuries.
With the expansion of yoga and yoga infused fitness and well being methodologies, some of the pose study/education is side stepped, as yogis want to push themselves, often cutting educational corners, to be able to do some of the more ‘challenging’ poses.
Plank Yoga Mats are designed with a controlled slip and grip curve ball, to be deliberately challenging.
We are asking the user to slow down, to check in and listen to the real conversation the body is having with the mind.
We sell to those who are interested in studying what it means to be present, to really hear what needs to occur physically, in the moment, at the body to mat intersection, to make a pose stronger, easier and more expansive.
We sell to those who care to learn and who are in awe and wonder about how little we know about the amazing machine of the human body and mind.
We sell to those who are curious & recognise that the study of our hands & feet when poses are constructed, is never ending and there is something new to learn every time, our hands & feet touch the yoga mat.
We sell to those who recognise that with a little machinery awareness & alignment, amazing things are possible…
Plank is the the only yoga mat company that openly wants users to slip, as we believe the person that does the learn the lesson from falling or slipping, is the one who has the capacity to grow their practice the most… and we do understand that sometimes you are skeptical or don’t want to learn any more or that you’ve found the mat that holds you securely in place and being stuck on a particular grippy mat (no brand names mentioned) that although limiting, is just perfectly fine for now.
We trust, being the open, always present and curious yogi that you are, you will come and find us, when you’re ready to take this on… If you need an additional nudge, we have a Father’s Day BOGO offer. We also love to hear from skeptics, so do be skeptical, we love skeptics, they are the favourite learners and advocates…
PS… For the bloggers, if anyone knows how I can get rid of the repeated Title on the blog page opener or the ‘[empty]’ notation below, send me a note, that would be just dandy too…
Happy Earth Day! We are honoring and celebrating Mother Earth with some grounding #Yoga poses, like this Lotus, as demonstrated here by the lovely Daniele Britt. Check out her stunning Plank Yoga Mat too, it's the perfect mat to help you connect to the earth and build strong foundations. How are you celebrating #EarthDay 2014?
"When do we remember to take time to love ourselves? It’s so easy to beat ourselves up with, ‘I could have done better.’ We are all so beautiful in so many ways. We all have talents which are unique to us. We are all creative, just in different ways. We’re all scared of not being enough. But, we are!"
Are you guilty of beating yourself up and not feeling like you are enough? How are you learning to practice self love?
As my daughter and I walk the aisles of Valentine’s Day cards carefully choosing boxes for her classmates, I am reminded of how little we celebrate the season of love with ourselves. Gracynn takes time to meticulously write each classmate a card, Hello Kitty for the girls, Angry Bird for the boys. There will be the Valentine’s Day cookies we make, the chocolates bought, the special dinner prepared for my husband.
But, when do we remember to take time to love ourselves? It’s so easy to beat ourselves up with, ‘I could have done better.’ ‘I should be able to do handstand in the middle of the room by now.’ (I hear this one a couple times a week from students). We are all so beautiful in so many ways. We all have talents which are unique to us. We are all creative, just in different ways.You couldn’t pay me enough to get up and sing in front of an audience, I’d be mortified. Yet, my husband, Eric, well, he does that every night. It’s his job. But, ask him to go to a yoga class, and he’d be terrified. See, we’re all scared of not being enough. But, we are!
I’m reminded of my favorite mantra, So Hum. It translates as, “I am all that is.” Whoa. Really? I am alllllllll that is. I am everything. I have a connection to everything, everyone. When we realize that, suddenly we realize we’re all in this big party together. Why do we make it so complicated? So, get up there, go have fun. Sing, Dance, Do Yoga. And practice Self Love this month!
This month, we'd like to introduce you to our newest Ambassador, Daniele Britt!
Daniele is the Retail Manager of Savannah Yoga Barre, is passionate about her Plank Yoga Mat,teaching BackCare Yoga, slowing down and practicing self love. For more on this amazing lady, read her interview with us below.
1) Thanks for reminding us about the importance of Self Love. Sometimes it is easier said than done. How do you make this concept achievable for yourself and your students?
I can be pretty sensitive at times and take things to heart. I’m a step-mom and I’ve learned a lot over the last few years that sometimes it has nothing to do with me when someone is acting a particular way. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to love me (or even like me)-it’s impossible and I cannot do anything about that. I used to want to people please and I would dig myself into more of a hole with a person who didn’t like me. I would end up stumbling over my words, saying completely the wrong thing and making matters much worse.
I used to try to be the ‘perfect’ step-mom and I know that there’s no such thing. I was all ego and thought, “Well, I’m not going to do so and so…” and within the hour I was acting/doing the same thing I’d promised myself I wouldn’t do. I would cry and cry. Beat myself up. Beat everyone else up (or at least in my mind!). It never worked.
So, I quit – cold turkey. I learned that what I can do is to stop, watch and roll! What that means is I can, 1. Check myself before I wreck myself 2. Watch myself if I’m about to spiral into a head-on misery fest 3. Roll with it. It’s only life, after all! And, do you know what? Once in a while, people turn around and realize that hey, I’m not so bad after all and we may have just had a different view on things.
Now, I give myself some time. Time to read a magazine, time to just be me, time to practice yoga, time to buy the latest girlie make-up. Little things can change my attitude all around. But, it starts with stopping. Stopping the control of life, of people. I find that’s Self Love. Not trying to make myself be someone I’m not.
2) You are quite passionate about Yin and Restorative Yoga and your Yoga for Back Care classes. Why do you think these types of yoga should be an essential piece of everyone's practice?
Westerns are GREAT at moving, moving faster and faster. Being still is much more difficult, I find. To pause, be quiet (this is hard if you know me!), and to just Be takes much more discipline. How many times do we skip Savasana when practicing at home? I know I’m guilty. Our minds jump from one thought to the next like monkeys swinging from tree-to-tree. It takes patience to remain in stillness.
There are greater reasons too…to make lasting changes in our bodies we must connect with the source. That is the bones. We can only get to the bones via the connective tissue, or fascia. By just addressing our muscles we miss out on this entire lineage of our body that is our deepest and fullest expression of creating change.
And, BackCare, at least the way I teach it, is a fusion of the 13 years of teaching and 16 years as student of yoga. I have created a system of exercise derived from physical therapy, Pilates, yoga and original sequences that I’ve tested on my own body. I have a special place in my heart, uhm, Back, for people with back pain. I herniated a disc 6 years ago after doing a series of dressage jumps riding English Saddle. The horse got stung on the ear and decided to jump 4 in one go. I didn’t fall off, but the impact of my spine was enough to do the damage.
3) You recently opened Savannah Yoga Barre. Why do you think Yoga and Barre workouts are a great compliment to one another and what makes your new space unique?
Firstly, I feel really honored to work with Lynne McSweeny, the owner and mastermind behind putting the two together. And, secondly, the community of Savannah has really embraced what we are doing. What other studios incorporate Power Yoga, BackCare, Yin and Barre? I really feel that Barre complements Yoga because you are getting some pretty good tests of your limits. Our Barre teachers are amazing and many have a real dance background. They really challenge your muscles to their point of exhaustion, yet not beyond. And, our yoga teachers are brilliant too and, again, we’re so diverse! Yoga can then help you to wring out your day. I find myself still incorporating the yogic breath in Barre, so you can take the girl out the yoga but you can’t take the yoga out of the girl, ha, ha.
4) You are all about connection and love your Plank Yoga Mat because of it. How has your yoga practice evolved since you started using a PYM and what do you tell your students about it?
I find that since I’ve been using my Plank mat, there’s no cheating! I love that I get feedback, such as, ‘Dani, you are really not using all four points of your feet.’ I can feel my mat telling me that! I’ve been much more reliant on my own body connection rather than relying on the mat to sink into. I get a stronger practice, even with a shorter practice with this awareness. My balance has improved.
I don’t just tell my students about Plank Yoga Mats. I take all of my Planks into the studio and let them use them. I leave 2 in the back of the studio for people to try and I always keep one for myself. I’ve noticed quite a following so the time has come with the February BOGO Sale to send them out to get their own, ha, ha.
5) What exciting new ventures do you have planned for 2014?
Oh my goodness, so much!! Life is just so exciting and I wake up every day with such gratitude. I am currently writing an accredited program for Continuing Ed for yoga teachers. I am focusing on teaching my BrittYoga Therapy techniques and BackCare. I’m pretty thrilled over this.
I am working with Doreen, designer & owner of Plank, on a very special workshop series that we will take across the nation teaching students grounding techniques and how to properly awaken their feet. We are in talks to visit some pretty awesome places, but you’ll have to wait to hear the rest of that when I get the go ahead to reveal from Doreen! 😉
I am guest teaching at a festival out West in Sept. Again, we’re in negotiations, so I shouldn’t say! But, I can tell you that I’ve created my newest Anahata Bhakti, the devotion of the heart, workshop to teach there!!!
And, my dream of a lifetime is coming true…I am holding a Yoga Adventure Holiday to Galapagos Islands from Sept . 20th-27th & Sept. 27th-Oct. 4th. It will be the journey of a lifetime. We have boat tours planned & a trip to the highlands, snorkeling, diving and of course, BrittYoga!!! We are staying on a 12-acre tortoise naturalist site with its’ own coffee plantation!!! And, only 10 yogis are going to each week, so guests will get a lot of one-on-one time and personalized instruction. For more details on Daniele's upcoming retreat, please visit: http://www.brittyogaholidays.com.
Meet our newest Ambassador, Boston-based Yoga and Pilates Teacher Antonio Aniello!
You teach Yoga and Pilates in Boston and are known for giving a hard core workout! What are your best tips for staying trim through the Holiday Season and into the New Year?
If you want to get stronger and more fit, I believe that it really all comes down to technique. Without it, you end up wasting energy and the exercises aren't nearly as effective.
During the Holiday Season especially, I also try to make sure I'm expending as many calories as I'm ingesting. The key word is try – no one is perfect and it's okay to indulge a little here and there, as long as you're working it off!
In the long run, it's all about finding a routine that fits your schedule that you can stick to in order to make progress.
We know you love your Plank Yoga Mat because it makes you work extra hard during your Yoga Practice. What has your experience with your PYM been like thus far and what benefits do you think it offers you and your students?
Not to sound like a broken record, but once again, it all comes back to technique. MyPlank Yoga Mat has intensified my practice lately mainly because it makes me realign myself using the right muscles and therefore connect more deeply to the mat and within my practice.
Almost immediately after starting to use my Plank Mat, every plank, down dog, and up dog became deeper. There's definitely a deeper connection of the hands, up the arms, and into the shoulders that really fires up my forearms. For a few days, my forearms felt like they were maxed out. Shortly after that subsided, I began to notice a deeper practice overall.
What's your favorite Pilates Exercise right now and why?
I recently suffered a wrist injury that has taken plank out of my #1 ranked Pilates exercise, so I had to find something new. Crisscross with the ring (see above photo) is currently my favorite thing because it's quick to burn and the rotation gets the obliques as well as the low abs involved!
What projects, trainings, etc. are you working on or are excited about for next year?
Continuing to learn is probably the coolest thing about teaching Pilates and Yoga! Next year, I'm hoping to get some formal training in barre style Pilates and also looking to take some inversion workshops on the yoga side.
This month at Plank, we're all about Bad Habit Breaking, in life and in our Yoga Practice!
By using a Plank Yoga Mat (PYM), we've been able to break the habit of collapsing into our joints, by focusing on creating firmer foundations through our hands and feet. However, when we use a grippy mat, we lose our foundations and sink into our joints because we are relying on the stickiness of the mat to root us down, not our own body strength.
The PYM is a mat that asks the practioner to think before doing, not just simply to do. So next time you are on your mat, be conscious of whether or not your are sinking into your joints, or using the strength of your foundations and muscles to hold your poses. If the answer is "sinking"…then it just might be time for a new mat!
Check out this awesome photo of our Ambassador, Elizabeth Rowan, rocking her firm foundations in Handstand.
What bad yoga habits have you been able to break by using a PYM? Comment below, we'd love to hear!
Yoga has become a mainstream addiction in the North American culture. Many seek it out for its life enhancing, body image enhancing, or just plain feel good appeal. Some have the impression that yoga is easy, others experience it as hard, and others see it as an opportunity to challenge oneself mentally and physically. Even the billion dollar weight loss industry has become obsessed with the promise of Yoga to trim inches and tone, especially if you practice diligently, and all the better in a hot room, 105°F/40.6°C with a humidity of 40% to be exact, each and everyday.
When I was asked to speak to a fitness instructor and weight loss expert’s audience about Yoga, I was clear that I wasn’t going to pander to that market’s obsessive beliefs about quick weight loss as the path to lasting happiness and fulfillment, simply because I know it isn’t. Instead, I do believe that what we feel and think about ourselves gets expressed in the form that our body takes; shape, size, health, agility, etc.
My approach, more specifically, is that Yoga is a path to sensually inhabiting our body vs objectively using our body. That may result in weight loss, toning and feeling better in our body, however, what makes the practice of Yoga unique and distinctive from other exercise regimens, is precisely that Yoga is about being in our body, instead of behaving inspite of it. What does that mean exactly?
Well, when we use our body/behave in spite of it, the body becomes a tool or instrument that caters to the mind’s agenda. We are functioning within a hierarchical construct where the body is subservient to the mind’s dominance, leading to separation and suffering. On the other hand, when we inhabit our body, we are acknowledging and tapping to into the wisdom of the body on par with that of the mind. This approach to Yoga, an ancient science of body/mind/spirit union and sophistication, validates the value and power of each the body. mind and spirit dimensions of our being for greater harmony inside and out .
So how can you Inhabit your body instead of using your body. Have a gander at the 3 tips below to help you distinguish between inhabiting and using and make an informed choice.
1. Spend more time caring about how your body feels (inhabiting) instead of how it looks (using). Use your inner sensing instead of how you look in the mirror both during your practice and throughout the day to identify how you are on the inside, versus how you look on the outside.
2. Re-pattern your feeling/thinking/sensing processing of life experience. Instead of going from your feelings to your thoughts (using), go from your feelings to your body sensations (inhabiting).
Here’s an example:
Using your body
Feeling: I feel stressed
Thought: Because I’ve got too much work to do
The above pattern keeps you trapped because the thought perpetuates the unpleasant feeling.
Instead try this
Inhabiting your body
Feeling: I feel stressed
Sensation: I sense the stress in my gut
Hang out in the stressed sensation in your gut and watch that sensation dissolve when you inhabit it.
Yoga encourages the experience and dissolving of the unpleasant sensation instead of the chronic avoidance of it that the mind seeks which only perpetuates the suffering.
This new habit of feelings to sensations will not only help dissolve unpleasant feelings and sensations, it will actually also help amplify pleasant feelings and sensations. When you become more self resourced for positive feeling sensations, activities like Yoga, that have feel good appeal, start to show up in your life more naturally.
3. Develop daily rituals of honoring and celebrating your body to support your Yoga practice. A great way to do this is by choosing pleasing yoga tools like the Plank Yoga mat and bags, and choosing sensually pleasant fabrics and lotions on your body.
Here’s a great practice: Instead of just rubbing in body moisturizer (using your body), spend time massaging your body, discovering more of what your body loves (inhabiting your body).
Discovering more ways that help you authentically inhabit your body will encourage more Yoga in your life on and off the mat. Identifying when you’re more in the using/behaving inspite of your body, and choosing instead to inhabit your body, will bring you home to your body as a temple instead of a tool.
Leela Francis is an embodiment expert and the founder of Vividly Woman; A global community of women and women’s circles. She helps women embody, live and dance their power, rocking the world with their passion for life. www.VividlyWoman.com
To look at me you would never suspect that I live with a spinal cord injury. I contracted paralytic polio when I was 5 years old in one of the last polio epidemics in the United States. Polio was known as “the AIDS of its day”. I was shunned by classmates and grew to despise and disconnect from my body. Over four years ago now, at the age of 53, I was diagnosed with post polio syndrome, a ‘progressive neurological disease’ and I went back into a leg brace, used a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility. I quit my full time job and went on a mission to heal my life. Through outpatient rehab and harnessing the best of Eastern and Western Medicine and my own inner resources with a deep faith in hope and possibility, I went on to run the 2009 Boston Marathon no longer needing a leg brace or a wheelchair. But something was missing ….
After a recurrence of symptoms and another course of outpatient rehab in October 2009, I was back on the roads running again in June 2010. On Facebook, my friend and neighbor Nicole Burrill aka The Sassy Yogini (www.sassyyogini.com) saw I was posting about my solo strength training work outs and my runs. She asked me if I did yoga. I gave an answer as terse as could be ‘No’. I looked at Nicole and thought, there is no way I’m ‘good’ enough to be in a yoga class with someone who looks like Nicole. If there were a picture next to the definition of yogini in the dictionary, it would be of Nicole. Nicole was unrelenting in her quest to get me to the mat and finally I said that my New Year’s Resolution for 2011 would be to try a yoga class.
Nicole talked with one of her yoga teachers, Pat Donaher (www.patdonaher.com) to ask him what would be a good class to bring me to given the diagnosis of post polio syndrome. He said, “If she can run a marathon, she can do anything.” I went to Pat’s class with Nicole and as she had predicted, I was hooked. I began to connect with my inner child before age 5 when I was a beautiful, flexible ballerina. I felt a sense of playfulness and a freedom in my body as I assumed various poses. I had a workout which I could never have experienced never mind how boring and tedious it is to do squats and lunges and single leg lifts at home. I loved the glow and cleansing that followed after having sweat for 90 minutes (and it wasn’t even a Bikram class) and I loved the energy of the yoga community who warmly embraced me.
I realized that, given my ‘special needs’ it would be prudent for me to supplement my practice with individual lessons. After that first class with Pat, I knew we would work well together. Initially, my goal was to to learn how I could move so that I could ‘fit in’ with the other yoginis. That goal was quickly relinquished and replaced with deepening my mind/body connection and learning how to (as one of my yoga teachers said) “love myself whole.” Through my yoga practice, I am moving away from a polio and post polio survivor who works to overcome my disability, to a woman who embraces my uniqueness, is learning how to love and accept my body wherever it is in the present moment, retraining neuromuscular pathways to give me greater freedom in movement and breath and having a lot of fun along the way. As a girl in a full leg brace and then as a teenager who had to wear special polio shoes, fashion never met function. I love the Plank yoga accessories for the fun and funky style they offer me while the high grade of Plank’s luxe mats provides me with extra support and comfort during my practice. As someone who has a difficult time knowing where my body is in space, I was forever hitting someone with my yoga mat while trying to juggle my bag and mat. With Plank’s Canvas Series, my bag and mat are compact and affords me the added advantage of taking the stress off of my neck and shoulders. The inner transformation I am experiencing on the mat is reflected in the sense of style that Plank offers me.
The benefits of yoga for the general population are well documented. Thanks to the pioneering work of Matthew Sanford, a paraplegic who is a revolutionary yoga teacher, (www.matthewsanford.com and www.mindbodysolutions.org) he is spearheading a movement to incorporate yoga into rehabilitation for those with spinal cord injury and other physical challenges and diseases. On his website, he cites the benefits of yoga for those with physical challenges as:
– Increased strength, balance and flexibility — both mental and physical
– Rhythm, an inward sense of direction and the ability to move through life in a more integrated way
– The capacity to live more fully within the body
– An enhanced ability to manage stress
– A deepened sense of connection with others
– Hope and a renewed sense of freedom
So if you don’t believe that yoga is for you because you are physically challenged, or even just don’t ‘look’ like a yogini, leave that belief at the door with your shoes. Discover the healing world that awaits you on the mat that will carry you to a life of greater joy, freedom, health and wholeness off of the mat.
Our Plank guest author this week, Mary McManus can be found writing and inspiring on her own thoughtful blog New World Greetingsand we Plankers are truly pleased to be sharing Mary’s story with you!