We are excited to announce the first of Plank’s #GetGrounded: Deepen Your Yoga Foundations Workshops, which will be held at Yoga Joy Studio in Gloucester, MA on Thursday, January, 15th from 5-6pm.
In this workshop, Doreen Hing, creator of Plank® Yoga Mats, will guide you to develop an investigative curiosity into the depth of grounding to enhance stability, lifts, power and more within your yoga practice.
Let’s get more curious about our breath awareness and see if, with a little more grounded awareness, can you hold your poses for longer, deeper and with more ease.
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…
"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.
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!
This month, we are proud to feature our newest Ambassador, Julie Starr-Wood, a rockstar Nutritionist and Yoga/Barre Instructor based out of Boston, MA.
Julie is a wealth of knowledge and we hope you enjoy her tips for building strong foundations in both your Yoga Practice and Daily Food Habits, especially as the Holiday Season approaches. Make sure to check out her Facebook Page and Website, too!
As a well-known Nutritionist and Yoga/Barre instructor in the Boston area, a common theme in your message is that developing good habits sets up a strong foundation for your health. How do you make this real and applicable for your clients and students?
When someone comes to see me, I make it clear that I am a guide. I'm not here to tell people that there is ONE diet for them or ONE right answer to their optimum wellness. They in fact, are my boss! In order to succeed in a wellness program, there needs to be trust. I get to know my clients/students, their lifestyle, their needs, and then work from there. I see no point in handing someone a list of nutrition do's and don'ts without knowing how they feel about food, which foods they like/don't like, etc. When you work with me I get to know where you shop, where you eat, your trainer, your sleep patterns – everything! It's my job to help you through the difficult shifts that are required to make positive change with as little stress as possible.
Many of us get overwhelmed during this busy time of year, especially as we head into the Holiday Season. Can you give us your Top 3 Tips for Maintaining Balance in Your Life Throughout the Fall?
Fall is my favorite season! There is nothing better than Fall in New England. My Top 3 Tips for Maintaining Balance through the Holiday Season are:
1) Don't go into the holiday season thinking that it is something to STRESS over in regards to food. It's something to embrace and enjoy! Shifting the way you think about situations alleviates anxiety, which helps maintain healthy eating habits.
2) Keep your house stocked with positive trigger foods. What are these? We all have those foods that when we eat them, they make us feel healthy and like we are doing something good for our bodies. They are different for everyone. Mine are: arugula, coconut, and parsley! So whenever you feel like you have indulged too much or are unbalanced, grab a positive trigger food and you will feel much better.
3) Remember the basics to eating healthy. Drink water, eat balanced meals, don't wait to long between eating, and slow down. When we take time to enjoy what we eat, it keeps us mindful and also allows us to digest our food and recognize fullness.
We hear you are loving your Plank Yoga Mat! How has it changed your practice and what tips are you passing on to your Yoga Students?
I love my Plank Yoga Mat! Due to its technology, it forces me to be mindful of my hands and feet, which engages my whole body while I practice. I remind my students to press into the mat with their whole hand and fingers – like they are playing a piano without missing a single key. Sometimes we favor one finger over another but it's important to evenly disperse our energy to set a strong foundation. While on the PYM mat, you can feel this even more! I also love the vibrant colors and the design of the mat.
People often ask us how our Plank Yoga Mats work exactly and why they are great training tool for firmer foundations. Well ladies and gents, here's your abbreviated answer:
The Plank Yoga Mat has traction, but unlike with a sticky mat, you have to train your muscles to work harder to create it by warming up the mat with more hand/feet connection than you currently apply.
This is a similar concept to that of the barefoot running style shoes that teach the muscles of the foot and ankle to become stronger. Just as the over padded, structured running shoe causes more damage to your foot due to lack of awareness and muscle engagement, so does an always-grippy yoga mat.
So what's the moral of this Yoga Story you ask? If you want to cheat your muscles and weaken your foundations, choose a grippy, sticky yoga mat. If you really want to work for them and strengthen your poses from the ground up, choose a Plank Yoga Mat!
After an extended summer holiday weekend, most of us will be back at the grind, tackling what we didn’t complete earlier and stressing before lunch break just how to manage it all. In a recent Yoga Journal Magazine story, writer Nancy Wilson shares here insight on yoga in the workplace – downward dog at your desk may save you from burnout, and corporations are discovering adding yoga as a resource for employees to balance their lives is saving big business big money. Read on…
Just after sunrise, I am lying on the floor of Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York. Next to me are 14 other students from the Market Development department at MTV Networks, here on a two-day corporate team-building retreat. The program includes sports, hikes, a croquet tournament, and this yoga class for “active relaxation.” “Your hands are like cosmic conductor cables,” intones our instructor Sara Harris. “The hands bring energy into the body and they send healing energy out. Focus on your hands and the energy; then listen to your breathing and feel the echo of your heartbeat.” Harris, who has taught classes for NYNEX, IBM, and AT&T, uses business buzzwords like “systems” and “mind screen” to tap into the language of her students.
At the end of class, Harris has us lie on the floor and leads us in relaxation. She tiptoes around the room, placing an acorn at everyone’s side. “In this little acorn there’s a huge oak tree,” she says softly. “Let this acorn be a reminder of how powerful your energy is. All you have to do is channel and focus it.” Harris’s metaphor resonates with everyone in the room. Afterward, I talk to one of the MTV staffers who tells me, “Life at work is full of distractions. Yoga gives me an opportunity to focus, since it’s rare that everything is so serene.”
This attitude may explain why yoga is catching on at corporations. Nike, HBO, Forbes, and Apple all offer on-site yoga classes for their employees. These and scores more Fortune 500 companies consider yoga important enough to offer classes as a regular employee benefit.
“Yoga is very hot—we wouldn’t open a fitness center without it,” says Holly Byrne of Frontline Fitness, a Manhattan-based consulting company that manages corporate fitness centers for Wall Street brokerage houses, law firms, and publishing companies. It is the calming effect of yoga that appeals to many employees, says Byrne, who recognizes that the name of a class can have an impact on its popularity with members. “We’ve found that in Wall Street firms, a class in stress reduction doesn’t fly because people think, ‘I don’t want other people to think I can’t deal with the stress level of my job; and if I can’t, I shouldn’t be working here.’ If you call it yoga or meditation, it’s more positive and people come.”
Now they do, but 15 or 20 years ago they might have run the other way. “Today, yoga is pretty much standard equipment in corporate fitness centers,” says Beryl Bender Birch, author of Power Yoga (Simon and Schuster, 1995). Director of wellness at the New York Road Runners Club for the past 18 years, Birch has taught at Pepsico, General Electric, AT&T, and Chase Manhattan Bank, among other companies. When Birch first began teaching yoga in corporations, she kept it physical, not spiritual. She even avoided using Sanskrit terminology so her students wouldn’t be turned off. “Now it’s totally changing, and I’m doing things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing 10 years ago,” Birch exclaims. “Last week we were chanting in our uptown Road Runners Club class!”
Yoga and the Bottom Line
The current boom in corporate yoga can be traced back 25 years to when companies began adopting wellness programs to lower health care costs, explains Edie Weiner, president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown, Inc., a New York-based trend analysis firm. At about that time, the Surgeon General issued a warning saying inactivity was as big a health risk as smoking cigarettes. Many companies jumped at the opportunity to establish fitness programs as part of a wellness initiative and began subsidizing gyms, which offered yoga as a “lite” exercise option.
“Whether or not studies have actually proven that productivity is up and health care costs are down, anecdotally, the evidence that it works is overwhelming,” says Weiner. “Companies understand you have to address employees’ health and well-being. Employees need time to relax, and a lot of people are gravitating towards yoga as a way to manage stress.”
According to researchers from the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, yoga in conjunction with meditation can indeed relieve stress and improve work performance. The Stress Reduction Clinic is the oldest and largest hospital-based mind/body center of its kind in the United States, treating more than 10,000 patients since opening in 1979.
The clinic delivers meditation and yoga-based classes to clients ranging from judges and correctional staff to the Chicago Bulls, and offers a five-day retreat for CEOs in the Arizona desert. A majority of the clinic’s patients report lasting decreases in both physical and psychological symptoms of stress. They also experience an increased ability to relax, greater energy and enthusiasm for life, improved self-esteem, and increased ability to cope more effectively with stressful situations. Recently, the clinic’s parent institute, The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, launched an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program for corporations. Its goal is to teach
participants how to manage stress, enhance clarity and creative thinking, improve communication skills, cultivate leadership and teamwork, and increase overall effectiveness in the workplace. This is just what any human resource department with a conscience would order.
When Bill Moyers interviewed the Stress Reduction Clinic’s founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn, for the 1993 PBS series, “Healing and the Mind,” Moyers raised the possibility that a placebo effect may result from a person’s belief that the stress-reduction program will work for them. He asked whether they might feel better even though they’re not sure what’s happening. Kabat-Zinn replied, “Why not? I’ll take transformational change any way it comes.”
This attitude seems more and more common among human resources executives, who previously doubted the power of yoga and other mind-body exercise forms.
At HBO in New York, employee health and fitness director Bill Boyle can’t keep pace with the demand for yoga classes. He recently added a third class to the weekly schedule and would add more if he had room. Boyle attributes the boom in yoga at HBO to rising levels of workplace stress. “Everybody is under more stress now, and has to perform better, and work more hours per day. Yoga gives them a chance to take it all in stride.” Boyle is convinced that the investment HBO is making to subsidize yoga classes for employees is well worth it. “The deep breathing and relaxation employees get from yoga help them to be more focused and less anxious. When they go back to work, they’re in a position to make better decisions. You don’t want people making business decisions when they’re stressed.”
It’s not just large corporations with deep pockets like HBO that are bringing yoga into the workplace. Gelula & Co., a 55-employee Beverly Hills firm that creates subtitles in 28 languages for about 200 films per year, is introducing a 7 a.m. free yoga class for employees. Elio Zarmati, the company’s 53-year-old president, wanted to share yoga with his employees after going to Stewart Richlin’s class at Yoga On Melrose four mornings a week on his way to work. “I go to the office feeling a lot better on days when I go to yoga class, compared with days when I don’t,” says Zarmati.
Zarmati plans to hire Richlin to teach at Gelula. “I feel good doing yoga, and I’d like to give my staff that option. We’re in a high-stress business making deadlines, and I think anything people can do to help them cope is a benefit to them and to the company. I’d like to see more of that in the workplace, and I want to put my money where my mouth is.”
But in Birch’s experience, it’s the employees, those who experience the benefits of yoga directly, who are responsible for the corporate yoga boom. “What I’ve noticed since I started teaching yoga in corporations is that the demand for yoga classes is employee driven,” says Birch. “The management of corporations has been dragged kicking and screaming into the mind-body discipline.”
Christine Owens, a 45-year-old visual effects coordinator at George Lucas’s Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) in San Rafael, California, is responsible for initiating and organizing a lunch-hour yoga class that meets three times a week. While ILM offers aerobics classes at no cost to employees, there is a five-dollar charge for the yoga class, despite high interest and attendance. “It’s a place I can go and check out of work for a while and come back really renewed,” says Owens, an upbeat, energetic woman. “It switches systems in me: I totally lose a sense of myself, and afterwards I feel so much more able to cope.”
Nearly 3,000 miles away in New York City, these feelings are echoed by Doreen Sinski, a 37-year-old working mother. “Yoga has helped me look at things in a totally different way,” says Sinski, who’s been taking yoga classes at HBO for a year. “It has helped me tremendously in my personal life with my relationships; it’s calmed me down and taught me not to let little things bother me. I can clear my mind of things that are not important, and I think I’m a better person for that.” While people can be very demanding at work, she doesn’t let it upset her. Due to her busy schedule, Sinski is convinced that had yoga not been offered in the office at lunch hour, she never would have found it.
Yoga, Corporate Style
Employee demands for more balanced lives have been the focus of yoga teacher Jean Marie Hays’s work for the last four years. Before becoming a yoga instructor in the San Francisco Bay Area, she worked as an occupational health and safety engineer, helping private companies set themselves up as government-approved healthy workplaces. In scrutinizing work environments, she became aware of “a sort of draining of the spirit in the business world.” She noticed an imbalance between people’s business and personal lives.
It took her about 13 years to realize what the missing piece was, and when she did, she left her work and started a company that brings yoga into the workplace. Since 1995, she and her partner, Debra McKnight Higgins, have worked with more than 50 California companies, teaching yoga and stress management. This includes classes in breathing, effective communication, and Kripalu-style yoga.
Higgins and Hays teach Kripalu-style yoga because it’s gentle and internally based—a nice counter to the externally based values of the corporate world. “Since there’s less focus on exact alignment, it’s easier to get out of your head and focus on what’s happening inside your body, on what kind of posture you’re holding inside that might be creating the tension in the first place,” says Hays, whose only class requirement is that students turn off their cell phones.
Students who do yoga at the workplace often move swiftly in and out of a class scheduled between meetings and work commitments. But yoga helps them go back to work with a clearer head. It provides an opportunity to let everything go for one hour during the workday, to find quiet and stillness, focus on breathing, and allow for relaxation. “A freer body gives you a more open mind,” says Theresa McCullough, who teaches at HBO. “How you feel physically is going to affect how you function mentally,” she reasons.
Read more of this remarkable take on yoga in the workplace by writer Nancy Wilson for YOGA JOURNAL. Click here for conclusion…
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