Tuesday, March 29, 2011

YogaWoman: A Documentary

This documentary looks fantastic! I can't wait to see it. Check out more info here.

Yoginis out there who follow the blog, how does your yoga empower you?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Introducing Rich

Photo via The Vagabond Bond.

Happy Monday, oh blog world! It's been a while. How was your weekend?

I hope you all had time to do some yoga, relax, and enjoy the inklings of spring. We had plenty of sun here in Chicagoland, but the temperature has still been freezing! I can't wait for some warmer weather.

It's been a couple weeks since I introduced you to a sponsored yogi, and I've got another one to add to the mix today -- welcome, Rich! If you're following the blog, you've read some of Rich's work before, like his post from the Real Men Do Yoga series, or his recent poetic reflections on his practice and what it means to be a warrior.

I've had the privilege of meeting with Rich and practicing at each other's studios -- we did a hot vinyasa class at TruHarmony in the city a while back, and he joined me for a Bikram class at Bikram Yoga Evanston not too long ago.

Rich has an incredible positive outlook on life, and he's super dedicated to his practice. You'll be hearing more from him in the months to come! In the meantime, this is his story on how he discovered yoga and why it's changed his life for the better. Enjoy!

 Photos courtesy of Richard Krzyzanowski.

From Rich:

My life was a mess. I had to give up on something that I had dedicated myself to for three years. I had been hit by a car, a bus, and lightning (the lightning was indirect). I was having a horrible time. 

Every time I saw my sister, she was this smiling, happy, ball of sunshine. Not to mention that she looked great. So I asked her what she was doing. 

She told me yoga.

I thought at it for minute and decided that I wanted to try it. For my birthday, she got me a mat and a few private lessons at TruHarmony Yoga. I knew immediately that this was something that I would be doing a lot of. 

 Photos courtesy of Richard Krzyzanowski.

I started practicing two days a week at first. On the days that I wasn't practicing, I found myself wishing I was at the studio. So I started practicing three days a week. 

I felt amazing. My head was clearer than it had ever been. My body was in better condition than it had ever been in. I noticed that my interactions with others began to change. I was looking at my entire life differently. 

I started practicing six days a week. That is where I currently am.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

"This Yoga Saved My Life"

 Above photo via the Bikram Women's Retreat on Facebook. Photo below via FYeahYoga.

"Yoga saved my life. I now have the flexibility to cope, the calm to breathe, and the strength to hold on."

Have you ever heard a story like this? Or perhaps your yoga journey involves one that's similar?

I recently read a Patch article starring a yogini with a comparable tale. It reads:

"This yoga saved my life," said Curnett, who said she went went from having terrible asthma and allergies, being overweight, and being stressed out to becoming more forgiving, patient and loving. She's also given birth – twice – and returned to her pre-pregnancy weight both times.

I'm constantly astounded by the way a strong yoga practice can change a life so intensely. Yoga opens up so many possibilities, so many opportunities to grow -- both physically and mentally.

I'm taking a Bikram yoga class tonight after having been away from the studio on a slight hiatus. While I'm a little nervous to return to the heat, I can also feel by body longing for the medicine it so needs and has been missing. Then I've got a massage afterward... can't wait!

How has your yoga changed you lately? Do you find that change comes in waves when it comes to your yoga?

Sometimes it seems like what's happening in our lives is mirrored by what's happening in our yoga practice. Our strength on the mat leads to our strength in the world... and that, dear readers, is a wonderful thing.

 Above photo via Clayton Austin Photography. Below photo via Max Wanger.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Some awesome posts on the Yoga Dudes Tumblr today, so I thought I'd share.

Guys, are you doing your yoga this week? Where are you practicing, and what styles are you loving right now?

Don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my Bikram groove on tonight!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Namaspray: An End to Your Stinky Yoga Mat

Photo via YayEveryday.
Photo via Coffee and Yoga.

Every Bikram yogi knows: the nose matters.

If your mat stinks in class, life is not good. Mostly because your face gets pretty close to your mat during a lot of the postures in both the standing series and the floor series. 

Having a clean, odor-free yoga mat is the difference between having a great class and suffering through. 

We've all been there...

You start your first week at a lovely, well-kept Bikram studio. You're rockin' your yoga and discovering new flexibility and strength that you never knew you had. Perhaps you're even losing weight, burning off toxins, and feeling better than you have in years.

But then you find out that being lazy after class doesn't serve you. You've been too tired to wipe down your mat at the end of class and by the end of only a handful of sweaty classes, your mat smells. 

Branding images via the Namaspray site.

Well, I have an easy solution for you. Check out Namaspray. This line of yoga mat disinfectant is my favorite, and comes in the best scents around. You can go for eucalyptus (my vote), minty fresh (a close second), or spicy orange (also wonderful!).

Branding images via the Namaspray site.

Namaspray is awesome because it doesn't have harsh chemicals, comes in an easy-to-carry size, and is made to be used on a wide variety of surfaces (anything from yoga mats to flip flops, gym bags, or workout machines!). For the full list of where you can put it to great use, read here.

Sweaty guys, sweaty gals: treat yourself to a little Namaspray. Your nose will thank you, and so will your Bikram yogi neighbors!

PS You can also shop for Namaspray on the Yoga With Style site, where there are hundreds of yogi-wear and yogi-accessory choices! :)
Branding images via the Namaspray site.

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Japan With Love

Read more, donate, and use your blog as a way to love those who are suffering from loss.

You won't hear from me again 'til Monday, but I hope the silence speaks for itself.

Namaste and happy weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's

Photo via YogaDork's St. Patty's post from last year.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, all!

Careful if you're planning to practice Irish yoga. :)

Enjoy getting your green on. And check out this hilarious post on FailBlog.

Photo via Glen Allsop.

This photo and the two below via The Vagabond Bond.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I'd wear a hat like this if I lived in Paris. Photo via Emily Takes Photos

I had breakfast with an incredible professor of mine from Northwestern. It was so fun catching up and enjoying crepes and coffee with her. Professor Vaux is about to pack up and head to Paris for three months. She and her husband are renting a flat in the Montmartre area.

We've been working on her book about Eastwood films and theology for over a year now, and I know I'll be missing her while she's on leave. But I'm also so excited just thinking about her sitting in Parisian cafes and working on her next book :)

Photo via Emily Takes Photos

Wouldn't it be fun to sit in the cafes of Paris while you work on your manuscript? I can just picture her there, enjoying the afternoon sun, a good book of poetry, a tiny cup of rich espresso, or an art exhibit at the Louvre.

Would you go abroad for a long trip?

I love reading about families who do. Like Gabrielle at Design Mom (she's in France, too), and David and Sarah (they've been traveling in the Middle East). Bonjour!

Photo via Etsy.

Advice Needed on Full Camel

Photo via Benitasana, the awesome website of a yoga teacher.

Morning, all! So I just saw an awesome article about having a yoga pose-off in the park on Yogapedia that got me thinking about Full Camel.

Full Camel is a pose I think I will be able to pull off "eventually or in the future" (ha, Bikram dialogue moment!)... but I still have qualms about how to get into it. Anyone have suggestions?

How do you get from regular camel pose to full camel pose? Anyone know of any special stretches or backbend suggestions for improving flexibility in the low back to get into that more intense version of camel?

I'd love your suggestions, especially Bikram teacher readers out there. Thanks!

How do I get from the above photo to the one below? Camel pose. For the win!
Above photo via Comfort in Style Magazine. Below via Bikram Yoga Portsmouth.

Update: Check out Joslyn's guide to getting into the posture on Miss Fit Bliss. Totally going to try that! I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Back to the Bike

Photo via Andrew Sheperd.

Biking season has returned! Sort of :)

I have been bundling up and biking my way to work the last few days and it feels so  good. It's amazing how great fresh air can be after months of winter weather and having to drive. Even if that air is freezing, it's refreshing to be outside again.

Being on the silver steed makes me think of summertime, spring colors, wearing sandals and shorts, and going for long rides by the lake. I can't wait for those warmer days! Right now it's still pretty chilly and we have to wear earmuffs and gloves, but it's worth it.

Once the seasons change, I definitely want to bike the lakeside pathway down to the city, as well as up to the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Two photos via Sarah Rhoads

Do you bike for fun or to work? Are you enjoying springtime outdoor activities yet? 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good Morning, Family

Photo via Our Labor of Love.

I'm up early today. Whispers of spring are here, just outside the window.

The sun breaks through, the sparrows flit and emit their fleeting chirps. I've got the radio on with the kinds of songs I only listen to when I'm alone. 

I've been thinking about family lately. The progression of love. The meaning of the relationships we build, and how we sometimes tell ourselves we don't really need them, and then realize how much we do.

I think of my girls. My bridal party. Grandmothers. Cousins and friends. Mom. Stepmom. The women I've spent my life looking up to, the women who have looked up to me over the years, the women I couldn't be me without. 

All subsequent photos via Jaquilyn Shumate Photography

I think of siblings. How precious the bond between a brother and a sister, a sister and her twin, a bond that would be suffering to lose. Stretched so distantly from each other; needed so much. I think about the joy of a phone call with my brother or sister, how hearing about their lives always cheers me up.

Who wants to come visit once spring hits Chicago, eh?

I think of my nephew and how every time I see a new picture, it feels like I've missed years.

Families are precious these days, it seems. Sometimes in the early morning, the house quiet, I think of the family I have and the ones I hope to one day grow in a world of love.

How have you loved your family lately? Any of you out there starting your own little families?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Focus Forward Friday: Rabbit Pose

Photo above via the Bikram Yoga Women's Retreat on Facebook
Photo below by yours truly!

Focus Forward Friday: 
A weekly ritual for deepening your practice.

Today's focus: rabbit pose. Anyone out there love this asana? It's the deepest forward fold in the Bikram series, and a great compression posture that comes pretty late in the floor series. 

I find that I have a love-hate relationship with this posture, mostly because of my tight cervical spine. I have to be really careful not to overdo it or go too far... yet at the same time, on days when my neck needs it, Rabbit can be the best medicine! It's one of the most healing postures I've found in Bikram.

My advice for those new to rabbit? Really put a lot of weight into your hands. Pull harder than you think you need to. And do use a towel over your heels. I know some studios teach against this, but that's disappointing to me. You don't want the chance of slipping and throwing your neck out of whack. 

Whatever your studio's dialogue style, be sure to take it slow in this posture, and don't expect results overnight. It can take a long time to feel the stretch move from your neck down your spine, but once you do it's totally worth it!

Another tip: introduce your belly to your spine and really suck your tummy in. By clearing this space in your abdomen, you'll be able to stretch farther and with more ease. Like in Standing Head to Knee, this is a critical first step for this posture. And a reason not to eat much before class!

Rabbit is also great if you've got a cold or have thyroid problems (it's supposed to aid immunity and balance hormones). Score!

To read more about rabbit pose from Bikram headquarters, click here.

Photo via Bikram's site.

Finally, a little explanation about this series. I realized the other day it's not exactly clear what Focus Forward Friday really is, or why I started it. So I wanted to give you all the whole story :)

Focus Forward Friday is a weekly reminder here on the blog. Its main purpose is to remind you of your own strength and that you have the choice to place your focus where you want it to be -- and that goes for when you're in yoga class or not on the mat!

Wherever you are, you have the power to focus forward. To focus on the present moment. To see yourself in the mirror, doing your yoga -- or see your true self, living your life -- wherever you are right now.

But only if you want to.

The series is also a weekly exploration of where a dedicated yogi should place his or her focus. Each topic I choose is meant to inspire you to think more deeply about how you use your yoga both on and off the mat.

You can think of Focus Forward Friday as a little party every week on the blog. Photo via Max Wanger.

The bottom line behind the series is to get you thinking creatively about how to live your yoga one week at a time. I hope it helps! 

If you have any feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below. Or chime in with a topic you'd love to see me post on next Friday! I'd love to hear from you.

Have a happy weekend, all. Enjoy spring time floating in the air! Get some time with your loved ones and go for a bike ride or have a picnic. I'll be enjoying some time in the hot room, and with my cousins from North Carolina.


Photo via Sloan Photography.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Out in the World

Photos via The Vagabond Bond blog.

I could use a trip. A getaway. The chance to be somewhere far from snow.

Anyone else out there longing for some adventure?