#PlankTip: Find your “Work Station Pose”

#‎PlankTip‬: Find your “Work Station Pose” (Noah Mazé Yoga)

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Sit up tall through your spine, roll shoulders down and back and pull the lower ribs towards the back body. Ensure the feet are well grounded with at least a 90 degree or more opening at the knee and hip joints. Aim to find a horizontal line through the forearms.
If you catch yourself in bad sitting form, just readjust and start afresh. With one new adjustment or awareness each day, we promise your organs and pipes will be thanking you in no time at all.

#PlankTip: Sitting with Skill for Cancer Patients

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At Plank, we’re all about SWS (Sitting with Skill) this month. If you’re battling cancer or know someone who is, our SWS principles can also be highly beneficial.

#PlankTip: When you practice better alignment when sitting you will align your pipes, helping to remove toxins after chemo. If you have to lie down, consider taking an online #breathing and/or #meditation class to help you learn how to breathe fully, relax your mind and lighten your spirits.

#PlankTip: Learn how to sit with skill

#PlankTip: Learn how to sit with skill

It’s true, most of us spend the day at our desks, slumped over our keyboards or texting/playing on our smartphones. And you wonder why we have back/shoulder/neck pain?

Here are a few #PlankTips that will have you sitting with skill (and ease) in no time at all.

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1) Find Your “Work Station Pose”

In his blog post, Yoga Instructor Noah Maze notes that: “if you are someone who sits in a chair for a good portion of the day, you can make simple adjustments to your posture (and perhaps to the chair itself) so that your spine is in good alignment. In other words, make ‘Work Station Pose’ part of your daily yoga practice.”

#PlankTip: Sit up tall through your spine, roll shoulders down and back and pull the lower ribs towards the back body. Ensure the feet are well grounded with at least a 90 degree or more opening at the knee and hip joints. Aim to find a horizontal line through the forearms.

If you catch yourself in bad sitting form, just readjust and start afresh. With one new adjustment or awareness each day, we promise your organs and pipes will be thanking you in no time at all.

three women laughing plank boston2) Sweat for 30 Minutes Each Day

Experts suggest that we should all be active for at least 30 min. each day. It could be a walk outside during your lunch hour, or a daily yoga or pilates practice to help you improve your alignment and strength – really anything that gets your heart pumping!

#PlankTip: Think of your Yoga Practice as ‘Action with Skill.’ On the Mat, it’s easy to listen to the instructor and work on these actions (aka postures) with an awareness of your alignment. However, we at Plank challenge your Off The Mat practice to be just as skillful. Be aware of your alignment in any physical activity, or the activity known as skillful sitting.

istock_000017252298xsmall_custom-06b7405a964bdfd0ae2f1a8a5f526dc5a27e5933-s3-c853) Take Frequent Breaks

If you work a job that involves a lot of sitting at a desk for several hours a day, make sure you are getting up and walking around/standing every 20 min. It will make a difference! Check out this article from NPR for more on the topic.

#PlankTip: If you get so wrapped up in your work that you forget to do this, consider purchasing an electronic device, like a Fitbit, that reminds you to get up and move frequently.

#PlankTip: Take your Yoga off the mat this summer!

Take your Yoga off the Mat!

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Take your yoga practice off the mat this Summer and try something new! It’s a great way to bond with friends and enjoy the warm summer temps and sunshine.

Here are our Top 4 Outdoor Yoga Practices of 2014:

1) Slackline yoga (or slackasana) has been described as “distilling the art of yogic concentration.” To balance on a 1″ piece of webbing lightly tensioned between two trees is not easy, and doing yoga poses on it is even more challenging. Yet despite the seemingly impossible nature of the act, it is achievable by almost anyone with a little bit of perseverance and patience. Check out our Ambassador, Kirk Lautensleger practicing his crescent lunge on a slackline. For more info and for great workshops coming your way, visit YogaSlackers.

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2) SUP (standup paddle board) Yoga is asana practiced on 10- to 12-foot-long boards in the most serene of settings: an ocean bay, a glassy lake, even a slow-moving river. In recent years, water-loving yogis have embraced SUP yoga as a practice that brings a sense of joyful freedom to an otherwise earth-bound yoga practice. For more, check out this great article on SUP Yoga from Yoga Journaland keep your eyes peeled for SUP yoga classes and workshops in your area, especially if you live close to the ocean, or local lakes and ponds.

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3) Horseback Yoga
“At first glance, yoga on horseback may seem like an unlikely merging of opposites. However, we see that the core principles of yoga – cultivating union, oneness, and wholeness – are the very qualities that make an equine-rider partnership great.” ~Jessie Tierney, RYT.

Horseback Yoga teaches you how to unite with your equine partner in a meaningful way, through calming your mind, conscious breathing, heightening awareness, and gently opening tight spaces in the body. Jessie (quoted above) teachesHorseback Yoga classes in WA but we’ve also heard of classes in Stowe, VT and in other farming communities. What an amazing practice!

#PlankTip of the Week


#PlankTip ~ To create a safer and broader range of motion for your shoulders, it works for the hands to connect ridiculously more to the mat than you think.

At Plank, we won’t hold you up, unless you work harder to construct more solid poses.

Sloppy hands = Sloppy Arms = Sloppy Poses.






For more insightful Plank Tips, make sure to follow us on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/wellheeledguru/ and Twitter: @PlankYogaMats.

Want your own Plank Yoga Mat? Visit www.plankdesigns.com today!

When Dad finally agreed to go to yoga class…

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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


Get Fit for the Holidays with our Ambassador Antonio Aniello

Get Fit with our Ambassador Antonio Aniello

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.