Why Plank isn’t interested in creating the grippiest yoga mat ever…

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.

Source: doreen

At Plank, we sell to those who are interested in body to mat contact quality to create solid poses…

At Plank…

  • 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 Dad finally agreed to go to yoga class…

Source: doreen

When I asked my mum to come to yoga class, I thought Dad would use the time to do some work he always seems to have to do. So I was thrilled that my dad agreed to come too…

My parents live in Brunei. Where? Exactly, I respond.

Anyway, not sure if you’ve experienced this when you haven’t seen loved ones for a long time, especially parents, but many emotions come to mind & heart. Joy and gratitude of course, they travelled all the way from a country I admittedly don’t know where it is, to spend time with us and then some sadness too. What struck me first was to see how much they had shrunk in stature and as my mind recognised the reality of what that means, I couldn’t stop the tears. For children and adolescents, with periods of time of not seeing one another, strength and height is often first observed. This too was noticeable for my parents, however, this time, their seemingly diminishing height got to me and for me, it had to stop or at least slow down.

No more suggesting how beneficial yoga is for the nth time. It was time to be intentional and actually drag them to class, kicking, screaming and/or complaining, if necessary.

I explained to them how their everyday activities, like sitting or reactions to pain, can cause the body to contract, the bones & muscles to collapse and with a bit of awareness, we actually do have the ability to affect this & make small changes that can correct this seeming inevitability.

That being said, I could see a mixture of head nodding, ahas and glazed eyes, so I decided to use the Wine Analogy Tool. I can explain forever all the nuances, the whys and the flavours of one of my favorite Proscecco’s, and you may mentally bookmark it, to potentially buy some, however if I really want you to understand what I’m talking about, it is simply quicker and more effective to buy a bottle and make you try it with me. Here’s the link, just in case… 😉

So, I brought them to a yoga class which could show them the precise biomechanics I wanted them to bodily experience, a class that enables them to understand what occurs when they collapse their internal structure and then comparitively show them tools that can conversely correct these unknown body habits. Thus, I took them to Down Under Yoga‘s Iyengar Yoga class with Nadja Rafaie.

With no yoga gear, I was deliberate to set my parents up at the front of class with a curious mind, and yes, they did try to sneak off to the back of the room. My dad is a professor at Brunei University so I used the Education Card and reminded him that students who sit at the front of class and ask lots of questions are the best learners.

Nadja took us through a series of tools that would provide ease, strength and understanding through specific alignment instruction. In Iyengar Yoga we spend a lot of time in Downward Dog, as it is used as a ‘control/comparison pose,’ to review what was learnt when constructing a given pose. We then check in to see if the new body technology provided ease or made a difference to our control pose, Downward Dog. For beginners and even long time practioners, an extended hold in DD can feel unsafe due to the possibility of sliding, or feel heavy and weight bearing on the wrist, shoulders and neck, if not taught correctly. However, when I looked over to my parents mats, there they were, two little determined learners in their everyday clothes and upside down U’s, moving towards upside down V’s, working on their bodies, unaware of my concerns.  

Cautiously I asked, so what did you think?

Mum: Yeah it was good, I now get what you mean when you say I can lift my bones off my joints. Also I’ve tried to do Downward Dog before, but I can’t hold it for long due to my rheumatoid arthritis, however, today I was surprised that although it was work, I didn’t notice any pain in my wrists. Can we buy some of Nadja’s DVDs?

Dad: Oh wow, that is very good stuff. I can see it would be helpful for my golf.

To me, that was a euphoric ‘WOW, so Totally Awesome’… and I couldn’t be happier that they’re starting to get what I get every time I take some pose study time on my mat.

#PlankTip ~ If you’ve been trying to get someone who is important to you to try yoga and the answer has been, No or a glazed disinterest, instead of getting upset, frustrated and giving up. (Been there.) Choose to hear it as a, No, Not For Now or that I haven’t learnt yet how to make the benefits relevant… and, Ask Again…

If like me, you’re not OK to wait, (my parents were only in town for a few days), AND it really matters, try this other #PlankTip ~ Dragging with Care, works…

And of course, I’d love it, if along with getting your Dad (or mum) to a yoga class, you took advantage of our Buy One Get One free Father’s Day offer, however if after reading this, we get one more dad (or mum) to a yoga mat, preferably a Plank Yoga Mat (however any mat will do), then you would make their day and life and mine too.

-Doreen, Plank Founder

 

For Bigger Heart Openings, Be Intentional About Getting More Connected

Cobra Pose from Plank's Connected Perspective…

Dana Plank 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ON THE MAT:

Although it's nearly the end of February, the month where love is often top of mind and heart, it never gets old to have a fresh look on one of the basics of heart openers.

Here we look at Cobra Pose from Plank's connected perspective. Our goal is to find the broadest spreading and lift of the collar bones to let that heart burst through and open out.

  • With a non intentional light hand to mat connections, notice the range of motion in the ball and socket joint of the shoulders. Are the collar bones able to spread 1-2 inches? Is the heart able to lift? 
  • With an intentional broad and full palm (inside and outside edges of fingers, knuckles, metacarpal and four corners of the hand), notice if the ability to rotate the ball joint in its socket is broad and safe, leading to expansion across the collar bones. Notice the ability to create strong and integrated upper thoracic back muscles that can support a higher lift of the heart.

 

OFF THE MAT:

February is a great month, it's my birthday, it's Valentine's Day, lots of reasons to love this month! Admittedly, I used to wish February would just go by quickly and quietly, as it's my birthday, it's Valentine's etc., which in the past would add a host of reasons to be insecure and wonder 'Does Anybody Love Me'? To answer that unanswerable question, one tip I use, has been to go get connected and find out. So I got connected and thankfully for me, I found out there are some folk out there that do and some that have always. Aw shucks, warm and fuzziness in the air. 🙂 

Dana Plank 1

Thanks to my friend, Dana Santas, Pro Sports Mobility Expert/Yoga Trainer to the NHL Lightning, MLB Pirates, Phillies and dozens more teams and pro-athletes, for including Plank's heat activated connect mats in her feature on heart openers to combat the Smartphone Slump on The Daytime TV Show. View more pictures here and her video segment from the show here.

Plank Yoga Mats are the only mats committed to teaching yogis to build their own solid foundations so maybe one day they will be able to practice without a mat. We'd love to hear from you if you noticed higher heart lifts, broader collar bones and/or a larger range of motion in the shoulder joints with intentional hand to mat connections. Post your comments below. Happy Heart Opening!

Get Fit for the Holidays with our Ambassador Antonio Aniello

Get Fit with our Ambassador Antonio Aniello

Antonio Teaser edit

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.

Antonio Side Plank Edit

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.

Antonio Twist Edit

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.

Make sure to visit Antonio's Facebook Page: Body Tone Yoga and Pilates and give it a like! You can check out his amazing classes at South Boston YogaExhale SpaEquinox and Karma Yoga.

PlankTip of the Week: Use Yoga Therapy Balls for Tight/Sore Muscles

Therapy Ball Text

It's true, as Yogis we often push ourselves to the limits both physically and mentally, which sometimes leads to tight and achy muscles. The best cure we've found is incorporating regular usage of Yoga Therapy Balls into our weekly Yoga Practice. A deep roll before class will open and melt the fascia around hands and feet, allowing for a deeper body to mat connection and more solid foundations in your practice. And, after reading Why Fascia Matters To Athletes you’ll understand why Yoga Therapy Balls are a must-have for any serious Yogi or athlete.

If you're new to Yoga Therapy Balls, we recommend trying Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball System, which provides targeted self-massage trigger point therapy for tight Yogis by using specially designed high grip rubber balls. She also sells some helpful DVD's demonstrating how to use the Therapy Balls properly.

If you are more familiar with how to use Yoga Therapy Balls, a cheaper alternative purchasing Lacrosse Balls or Pinky High Bounce balls – both do roughly the same thing. These also make a great, inexpensive gift for your favorite Yogi!

Happy Rolling Yogis! 

Top Nutrition & Yoga Tips from Julie Starr-Wood

Julie Headshot

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!

Julie Crow Pose

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.

Julie Half Moon

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.

Plank Tip: Get Rooted in October with Tree Pose

webmd_photo_of_teen_girl_in_tree_yoga_pose

 

This October, our Founder is focusing on breaking her bad habits and with that, comes the practice of being present and grounded. For our pose of the month, we picked Tree Pose (Vrksasana) because it is grounding and also relevant since we are all about the beautiful changing leaves and trees this October.

PLANK TIP: Ground down through all four corners of your standing foot to stabilize your tree pose from the root up. Like the corners of a tent, as you press all four corners of your feet in your mat, feel your joints stack on top of each other and the muscles of all four corners of your legs engage to create solid pillars of strength.

Create a Dynamic Diagonal as the big toe presses deeply into the mat and follow the line of connection to the outer hip, to pin it into its socket. This powerful additional grounding creates a more solid foundation which evens out the hip bone and embeds it deeper into its socket. These actions work to reinforce the body's architecture to be stronger, as it compacts into the midline.

Press your floating foot into your inner thigh, and your thigh back into your foot to create more stability and engagement through your core and upper body, too.

With a Plank Yoga Mat, grounding of all four corners of hands and feet is a starting point and a must. It is not a suggestion, which is the tendancy when using an always-grippy yoga mat. The more you learn to connect to your mat, the more you will develop your firm foundations and mind body connection.

How do you stabilize in Tree Pose? We'd love to hear your own tips below!

Why a Plank Yoga Mat is the Yoga Equivalent of the Barefoot Running Shoe

touchingtoesoriginal

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!

Happy National Yoga Month! Top Plank Tips to Get Back to Your Mat

 
yogamonthcard_oneweekfreeyoga699_287

Did you know that September is National Yoga Month?

In honor of it, here are our Top Plank Tips for Getting Back to Your Mat this Fall!

1) Make a Plan for Your Week: Schedule your Yoga Classes by signing up for them online in advance (if your studio allows you to), or just pencil them into your planner or online calendar. With all the tools and technology we have available these days, there is no excuse for missing your favorite yoga class!

2) Try a New Studio or Teacher: Sometimes, our practice can start to feel a bit stale. Get re-inspired this Fall and remember why you fell in love with yoga all over again. Try a new studio or new teacher's class – you might just find a new fav place to down dog!

3) FREE YOGA! Seek out Free Yoga classes and events in your area this September. In Honor of National Yoga Month, over 2,200 studios nation wide are offering One Week of FREE Yoga. CLICK HERE to see a listing of participating studios and get your asana over to one soon.

4) Get Some New Gear: A new season calls for fresh Yoga Clothes and maybe even a new Yoga Mat or Mat Bag. When you look good, you feel good, and why wouldn't you want to show off your new goods at your local studio?