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?
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.
Happy New Year, Plankers! This January, we challenge you to GET CONNECTED and kick off the New Year… with a major twist!
We've partnered with our friends at Juil to help you get back to the basics as we challenge you to think about the following: "What does connection mean to you?"
As you know, Plank Designs is all about firm foundations & Juil stresses the importance of grounding through their magnificent footwear, thus, we thought it was appropriate to help aid in this foundational connection.
Here's your chance to enter to WIN your very own Plank Mat and a pair of Juil's! (Valued around $184)
You can thank us later, in the meantime go ahead, and #GetConnected.
In order to WIN this Prize Package, you must do the following 3 Things:
1) Post your New Years Resolution as a comment under the Facebook post(s) on the Juil Pageor the Plank Page.
2) Tag 3 friends that you want to share this giveaway with in your comment.
Our huge BOGO Sale on Plank Yoga Mats is BACK just in time for Cyber Monday!
Buy one Plank Yoga Mat and get a 2nd for FREE when you use code BOGO2013 at checkout in our online store: www.plankdesigns.com. Plank Yoga Mats are as functional as they are fashionable and make a fabulous Holiday gift for yourself or any of your fitness minded friends and family.
At Plank, we genuinely care about people revisiting and reworking their foundations. We believe that our Yoga Mats are a training tool that help students to develop solid yoga foundations, create greater strength and better alignment, and also deepen and advance their practice.
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!
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 October, our Founder is focusing on breaking her bad habits and with that, comes the practice of beingpresent 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!
So why does Plank® keep going on about the Mind-to-Body-to-Mat connection? The old adage of everything works better when your foundations are strong, is even more relevant if you want to consider the body as an architectural structure. The bones being building blocks that when they are correctly stacked, allow the muscles, organs and pipework to function optimally around it.
I admit that when instructors share the following talking points, although great immediately applicable reminders, they offer little insight into the how to precisely and the why beneficially…
Ground down to grow.
Build your poses from the foundations.
Root down through your feet
However have you ever wondered what Grounding down or Rooting down actually means and why it helps in the creation of bigger, freer, bolder poses. For those yogis who are curious about what it takes to create firmer foundations, here are a few yoga classes and mini workshops that have been instrumental in allowing Plank to share with you, through its heat activated Connect™ yoga mats, the importance of learning that all your poses/asanas are built from the ground up, i.e. your feet…
At Plank, we're interested in what you connect to your mat to create solid arms and strong legs. We want to follow up with tips to create great arms foundations, for poses like Downward Dog, Handstand etc… We're particarly interested in the details of hand to mat connection. If you have foundation tips or your have made your own mini online workshop & you want to share with us and your yoga loving communities, we'd love to share them for you…
*Photo above courtesy of Tiffany Cruikshank. Check out how her Alive and Active Feet are always connected to her yoga mat.