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DIY Yoga Mat Spray | How to Clean Your Yoga Mat, Recipe for Mat Spray, Essential Oils Ideas

DIY Yoga Mat Spray | How to Clean Your Yoga Mat

DIY Yoga Mat Spray: How to recipe

 

I’m sorry to tell you this, but your yoga mat is probably disgusting.  Those cushiony-supportive or sticky anti-slip fibers can really hold onto a lot of bacteria, germs and general grossness.  Think about those super sweaty vinyasa classes!  And your hands and feet on the mat and later you put your face right in the same spot.  Acne and warts can come from your mat.   How can you slowly sink into a soothing savasana knowing what lurks beneath?! (the horror! lol)

 

DIY Yoga mat spray to the rescue!

 

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

Ingredients and Supplies

For my first yoga mat spray, I used lemongrass essential oil.  The scent went well with the natural scent of the witch hazel.  It left a refreshing and energizing scent on my mat for my next yoga practice.

Antibacterial Essential Oil Ideas

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Tree and Chakras Poster beautifully displays the 8 limbs of yoga, which tell yogis how dig deeper into all of the aspects of yoga.
Also click the picture to check out our shop

Each of these essential oils has antibacterial properties that can help with making your mat clean and give it a nice scent.  Choose one or make your own special blend.

How to make DIY Yoga Mat Spray

  1. Fill your bottle up 3/4 with water
  2. Add witch hazel or vinegar until it’s nearly full
  3. Add 15-20 drops of your chosen oils…voila!

How to use your spray

  1. After every practice, spritz/mist your mat with your DIY yoga mat spray
  2. Wipe your sprayed mat with a cloth to evenly coat the surface
  3. If possible, leave the mat out for 10-15 minutes to let the spray do it’s magic and let the mat dry
  4. Hang (or roll) your mat up
  5. Repeat after every practice 🙂

Lotus for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra

Throat chakra: meanings, meditation, balancing, mantras and mudra

Lotus for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantraThe Throat Chakra (or Vishuddha Chakra in Sanskrit) is located primarily in the neck, but also encompasses the shoulders, jaw, mouth, and thyroid.  It is the first of the more spiritual chakras, following the Heart Chakra.  The Heart Chakra is a mix between spiritual and physical chakras, with the definitively physical chakras below the heart chakra and the spiritual chakras above.

The throat chakra is associated with sky blue or turquoise-blue and the element of ether or space.  The throat chakra is responsible for sound and expression through sound.  This chakra is also correlated with all kinds of communication.  It can also be associated with finding your purpose and embracing your individuality. Location of the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra It is also related to creativity and turning ideas into reality.  The sacral chakra, which is responsible for creativity and emotion, is closely linked to this function of the throat chakra.  The throat chakra helps us express emotions and creative ideas.  It also helps us express truth, both in terms of finding our truest feelings and finding the strength to share them.  The throat chakra is sensitive to misinformation or unkind words.  Negativity and lies can quickly disrupt the balance of the chakra.

Imbalance of the Throat Chakra

A blocked throat chakra can lead to feelings of uncertainty, or an inability to find your truth.  It can also cause you to be unable to express that truth if you have found it.  A clear, open throat chakra allows you to comfortably and confidently share your feelings, thoughts and ideas.  A blocked throat chakra can manifest itself physically as a sore throat, head ache, tooth ache, neck pain or thyroid problems.  A blocked throat chakra can also manifest emotionally as shyness, fear, lack of creativity, inability to express yourself, or social anxiety.  On the other hand, excessive throat chakra openness can lead you to become overly dominant or manipulative.

Some of the techniques below can help restore balance to the throat chakra.

MudraMudra for the Throat Chakra; read more about balancing, meaning, meditation and mantra

As you prepare to meditate, chant or sing, try this throat chakra mudra.  Interlace your fingers so that the tips come inside the palms.  Connect the tips of the thumbs, reaching slightly up to round the shape of the hands.  Place your connected mudra in your lap, find a comfortable upright seat and then add mantra, meditation or another technique of your choice.

Mantra

To open the throat chakra, try to bij mantra or seed mantra sound, “ham.”  You can chant it aloud or internally.

If you prefer English, you can try the affirmation, “I speak.”  If you have something specific you want to say, thinking about the words or mood you wish to invoke can also help.

 

Other ways to engage your throat chakra

The 8 Limbs of Yoga Tree and Chakras Poster beautifully displays the 8 limbs of yoga, which tell yogis how dig deeper into all of the aspects of yoga.
See our chakra poster

Singing, crying, chanting, laughing, and talking can also help your throat chakra release blockages and open again.  Allow your throat freedom- release and take on these actions fully– laugh with your whole heart, sing with all of the air and volume you can muster, or weep sob and moan.  It’s only for you.

Also, pranayama like Ujjayi breath can help your throat chakra.

Meditations

Image a blue light in your throat.  Slowly allow that light to emanate out from your throat.  Allow the light to open your airways and your mind.  Allow it to heal you and soothe you.

Alternatively you can imagine releasing your negative feelings on your exhales during a meditation.  Allow yourself to fully feel your feelings, observe them and release them.  Allow yourself to move past feelings that don’t serve you.  Reunite with your truth and your confidence.

The Mandalay Hills Yoga Leggings are printed with an image of the Shan Mountains behind Mandalay, including the rice paddies and a pagoda. They have a high rise waist, 4-way stretch and an inside pocket.
Check out our shop

Asana

Asanas that stretch the neck are best for the throat chakra, like gently rolling the neck, camel, shoulder stand and fish pose.

Sky Blue

All things blue are helpful for this chakra.  For foods, try blueberries, blue corn or blue-ish sweet potatoes.

Gems include saphires, aquamarine, turquoise, lapis lazuli and blue topaz.

Also, try wearing blue to encourage throat chakra energy.

All About the Throat Chakra: Meditation, Mantra, Mudra, Meaning, and Balancing

The throat chakra is a crucial spiritual force.  Confident self-expression, creativity, and self-understanding are all critical functions of the throat chakra and great reasons to give your throat chakra some extra attention and love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission.]


The Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapractice

The Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice

Starting a yoga self-practice. Blog post with tips and inspiration
Click this photo if you’re just beginning

If you already started your yoga self practice, great work!!  This post will provide you with some ideas on continuing to challenge yourself and working different parts of your body.  If you’re just starting click the photo to the right.  With your self-practice, it can be easy to get into a rut, only practicing your favorite poses and the ones that are already familiar, and maybe even ones that are easy to you.  It’s important to push yourself beyond that point if you want to progress and improve.  Below are some ideas for how to go beyond where you are now and suggestions for advancing your yoga self-practice.

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

Categories of poses

As a yoga instructor, there are 6 main areas to address in a class.

  • warm-ups
  • standing poses
  • arm balances/abs/hips
  • inversions/ thigh stretches
  • backbend/twist/forward bends
  • savasana

Some classes aim to tick all of the boxes and some focus on a specific area, theme or goal.  It’s probably too much to try to tick all of the boxes every day in your home practice (though warm-ups and savasana are always a must).  My suggestion is to assign each of these areas to one or two days of the week.  Then brainstorm some poses in each category– think about poses you like and poses that are difficult for you.  It’s good to have a variety of asanas for each group so you won’t get bored doing the same poses too frequently.  In a few months, you can re-assess your lists and maybe add new poses to your repertoire as your level progresses.  Here’s an example chart of weekly poses.

The Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapractice

Another idea: post soThe Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapracticeme pictures or doodles of poses you want to try on your wall.  Sometimes once you’re flowing it’s hard to remember that great new asana you wanted to try or you can only remember the one you’re most excited about.  Some visual clues can help you get to lots of great shapes.

I read this quote in the The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga, “People love to do the things that they love to do.”  In the book, the author is talking about making sure you balance your yin energy activities (more quiet, restful and rejuvenating) and yang energy activities (powerful, energized, strong).  To me this quote is also a reminder to try to go beyond what you know and what is easy for you- challenge yourself to do the other things.

Disclaimer!  Always be careful and listen to your body, especially your sensitive joints.  You never want to feel real PAIN in yoga- try to shoot for 70% edge.  Go for the Goldilocks technique, adding and removing strain until you reach your just-right stretch.

Every every every day, yoga

7 Restorative Poses to relax and rejuvenate8 Limbs of Yoga: Pranayama, breath control: about and how toTry to make yoga a crucial part of your daily routine.  Maybe schedule it in before you get ready for work or directly after your afternoon snack.  Starting a habit is the hardest part- it takes a full month of dedicated work before any habit will become natural, including the habit of daily yoga.

Of course, some days are super busy and it feels like there is no time or no energy for yoga.  These are probably the days that you need yoga the most!  Do whatever you can to at least make time for a few sun salutations or a few soothing restorative stretches.  On these days, it’s ok if don’t have room for your complete practice, but send yourself the love of a little practice.

Also illness can make moving your body feel extra hard.  When you’re sick, look to some soothing restorative poses, yin asanas or supine stretches.  At least try for some cat-cow or a supine twist.  Supta baddha konasana is always a good idea!

Spirituality

The spiritual side of yoga isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great tool for staying steady emotionally and mentally.  I recommend incorporating some meditation and/or pranayama into your practice.  At the beginning or the end are usually the best time.

New Inspiration

Extra-long modern mala necklace with 108 hand-knotted Burmese beads (in green, black, and white) perfect for yoga and japa meditation
See Katia Yoga malas on Etsy

Goal: add a new poses to your repertoire once a week!

Finding new asanas that meet your skill level and categorical needs can be a challenge.  I recommend this book, 2,100 Asanas: The Complete Yoga Poses.  It’s filled with literally thousands of photos of asanas.  This is a great place to find new ideas.  Flipping through the pages is basically guaranteed to make you want to start to move.  The book is already massive so it doesn’t give a great deal of detail on getting into the poses.  When a pose is appealing but unclear, I turn to the internet.  These days even google has an archive of yoga poses.  There are lots of great sites with detailed how to’s regarding getting into the pose and alignment but it’s hard to find them if you don’t know the pose you’re looking for.  Knowing the name of a pose you want to try is a big help.  2100 can help you begin with that spark of inspiration.

The tree of life is a classic spiritual image in many different cultures. This poster is a print of an acrylic painting on canvas.
Click the tree of life print to check out our shop

If you are interested in a specific style of yoga, try to find a book that is directly related.  There is a lot of yoga theory and philosophy behind most styles and a bit of background can help you find the right intention to infuse into your practice.

Instagram is full of amazing yogis showing off their stuff.  This can also be a good place to find new flows and inspiration.  Also, participating in instagram challenges (whether you post your poses or not) is a good way to get into some different poses and learn from hosts who write about the alignment too.  Photographing your asanas is a helpful tool for checking your alignment if you don’t have a mirror in your yoga space. Pinterest also has lots of great infographics for how-to’s and sequences to try.

Personal Yoga JournalThe Complete Guide to Advancing your Yoga Self-practice: how to make a routine, add spirituality and pranayama, how to find new inspiration, stay motivated, and tracking your progress #selfpractice #yogapractice

A yoga journal or even yoga sketchbook could also be a nice way to keep track of your poses and weekly ideas.  You could possibly also make a calendar or tick boxes to track how often you practice.

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style or learn to be a better instructorIn this journal, you can also take some notes after yoga classes you attend.  Try to take note of new poses you like, fun flows your body enjoys and great quotes, themes or intentions you may want to include in your home practice.

 

This may sound like a lot.  That’s ok.  Take whatever pieces may work for you and your practice.  Your practice is only for you so do whatever makes you feel good and makes you want to roll out your mat again and again.  Be proud of whatever you do!

 

 

Yoga Trade Article on Teaching Yoga in Nicaragua; view over San Juan del Sur

Yoga Trade Article: First Time Yoga Instructor in Nicaragua

I’m happy to say that Yoga Trade published my article on teaching in Nicaragua.  Check it out!

First Time Yoga Instructor in Nicaragua

 

Also check out more from Katia Yoga in our Shop or on our Blog.

The longyi yoga pants are inspired by the beautiful fabrics of Myanmar. Soft fabric with 4-way stretch made in the USA. High waist and inner pocket.

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Creating a Yoga and Meditation Space

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceOne key to establishing a great home yoga practice is having a good place for it.  You need to create a spot that feels comfortable, personal and enjoyable.  It’s your practice and your space so it should feel like you and be representative of your yoga interests and needs.  However, there are a few things that every yoga space needs, whether you have a whole yoga shala (room/studio) or only a corner.  To try to get to the essentials of your yoga space, think about all 5 senses so you can set the mood for your practice.  I have brainstormed some ideas and examples below to help inspire you with creating or perfecting your space.

Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation spaceSight

  • Decorate the walls!  Mantras, resources and diagrams you’re learning from or just things you think are pretty are all great visuals to add to your space.
  • Gods or goddesses that you believe in, wish to invoke, or are drawn to (there’s probably a reason you like that one!) are a great addition to your sacred space
  • Plants help make the space soothing and cozy.  They are great for de-stressing and purifying the air.
  • Find a way to store your props, resources and other things you might want that feels put together to you.  You don’t want clutter but you also don’t want to have to go fetch things.  Make it easy to get to everything you might need.
  • Nice light helps make the space warm and homey.

Sound

  • Music can energize and invigorate you or calm and soothe you.  Find your favorite songs for your practice or your different practices
  • Instruments can be a fun addition to your practice- like a bell, chimes or a singing bowl– something you can play along to mantras with or meditate with or to mark the beginning and end of your practice
  • Singing along to mantra can also be a fun part of a spiritual practice

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and purchase something I will receive a commission. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love it!]


SmellIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

Smell can really help set the mood for your practice.  Aromatherapy can also energize or calm you.  Try candles, incense, and essential oils to help choose your mood.

Touch

  • Make sure you have ample space to move.  Some yoga poses stretch a bit past the mat.  Try to find enough space so you won’t be hitting a wall or furniture when you reach out
  • Be sure you have a good mat (or a few mats if you like to yoga with friends). Think about what features are important to you, like non-slip material or thick support.
  • Cozy props are the best!  Consider what props would best support your practice, such as
    • bolster
    • strap
    • eye pillowIdeas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space
    • pillows
    • yoga blanket
    • malas
Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas and yoga wear on Etsy 🙂
  • Comfy yoga clothes are a must.  You want to feel free to move in any way that calls to you.  Make sure you won’t have to be distracted by any discomfort.  (Check out our Yoga Shop for some great yoga pants, tops and accessories!)
This beautiful mantra, "Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu" is on one side of the mug, and its English translation is on the other: "May All Beings Be Happy and Free." Perfect for a cozy cup of tea or coffee. ($15-20)
Also see our yoga accessories and prints!

 

Taste

Something to sip, like teas or infused water, are nice for before and after yoga.  It’s also important to have plenty of water to stay hydrated during your session.

Your yoga space should be a spot that you feel drawn toward, a place where you want to be- just like your yoga practice.  Add whatever additional touches you feel you may need to make it absolutely yours.

 

 


Ideas and inspiration for creating your own yoga and meditation space

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructor

Yoga Teacher’s Eye: what a yoga instructor can learn at a yoga class

Things to think about in a yoga class to find your favorite class or style OR learn to be a better instructorThings to observe in a yoga class

Here are a few concepts you can keep an eye out for in class if you are learning about teaching yoga.  These aspects can also help you find your favorite teacher or style of yoga if you are trying different classes.

  • style– along with the style of yoga, how does this instructor interpret it?  e.g. Is it classic vinyasa or a little slower?  Is it heavy on lunges? Do they hold the poses for a long time or flow freely between asanas?  Did they bring in a few poses from another style of yoga?
  • personality– how does the teacher add their own flair to the class? What attributes do they bring to the class that make it different from another class in the same style of yoga?
  • voice– what is the quality of the instructor’s voice?  e.g. Are they loud enough? Is their voice gentle and soothing?  Is it firm and encouraging? Does it inspire you to add energy to your poses?
  • cues– how does the instructor describe the poses and transitions?  Does it give you a new way of thinking about the pose?  Is there an alignment tip you hadn’t heard before?  Is it clear what you need to do?
  • sequencing– how do the poses flow together?  Is there a connection between poses you hadn’t thought of before? Was the class leading to one particular pose?  Were there groups of types of poses (like standing then arm balances then abs?)
  • theme– how does the instructor bring it all together?  Did the class focus on one aspect of alignment? A concept, like propping vs. collapsing vs. yielding?  Was the class devoted to the idea of peace, balance, femininity? Or one of the Hindu gods? A full moon?
  • reflection– the last thing to think about is how the class affected you.  Did you like the style? Would you prefer to do things another way if it were your class?  What did you learn?  What take-aways can you find- about yoga, any of these concepts or yourself?

Putting it all into action- my experience at a retreat

A couple of weekends ago, 2 gal-pal yoginis and I headed down to the beach for a yoga retreat and some rest and relaxation in the sun.  Since I haven’t been to a yoga class in a couple of months, I was excited to listen and learn and of course move.  I practice and teach regularly, but it’s so nice to also receive some instruction and improve my own poses and practice.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorI think since yoga teacher training, though, I will likely never see a class in the same way.  I am forever filing away phrases for cues and noting things down about transitions and a teachers’ style and personality.  In ytt, our instructor warned us about this, saying, “you will never be the same again, but that’s probably a good thing.”

At the retreat, one of the most interesting things for me was the structure of the classes.  The teachers spent probably 75% of class in standing postures.  Especially in the early morning, that was hard for me.  I’m not exactly lazy, but I’ve never been the most energetic person either.  Also, it doesn’t go with the style yoga I’ve learned and embraced.  I know many people enjoy this active yang style of yoga, but I learned during that weekend that my style is a little calmer.

I think yoga is a sort of spectrum.  There are yogis who are there for the workout and yogis who are there for the spiritual practice and yogis who want some combination of the two.  The names of the yoga practices can help identify that sort of balance that a teacher offers or a practioner desires but there’s such a range within each style, so in a way the only way to know about any given class or style is to try it.

Something else I noticed at the retreat was the use of voice.  The main instructor had a very strong voice with clear, deliberate cues.  She was firm and energetic, like her class.  She used great imagery to describe the way the poses could be gracefully transitioned and practiced.

What to look for in a yoga class to find your favorite teacher, style OR become a better instructorThe instructor gave supportive guidance in the arm balance workshop- talking with each yogi individually about their struggles with gravity, strength, balance and fear.  She showed some humility in inversions as she modeled a pose that wasn’t her strongest, still giving valuable tips and demos.  I also noticed how incredibly important it is to be personable off of the mat with each of the students.  I admired these qualities in instructors.

At the retreat, we had early morning meditations.  The instructor encouraged us not to speak before mediation in the morning, which I really liked.  It made the practice more serene and organic. I noticed in the meditation, she didn’t give direction for our thoughts.  Some styles of meditation try for a mind completely free of thoughts, in which case no instruction is needed.  I found out I prefer a meditation where the mind is focused on one train of thought, like the breath or a mantra.  It is easier for me, but it also lends itself to a practice that feels more meaningful to me.

It’s interesting how seeing a style that was quite different from mine reinforced my understanding of my preferences and my yoga style.  I had a great time and learned a lot, but much of it was about myself and my yoga.

“Yoga is not about touching your toes, it’s about what you learn on the way down.” -Judith Hansen Lasater


How to make a Mala: knotting, tassels and an introduction to malas. Step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you in making your DIY mala

Malas: how to make a mala DIY and how I was introduced to them

Malas are a string of 108 beads, usually with one more “guru bead” at the base to hold them all together.  They sometimes have a tassel or a pendant dangling below.  They’re beautiful as jewelry but even more gorgeous when used spiritually.  In this post, you will learn how to make a mala with step-by-step instructions and photos to illustrate each step.  Keep reading in our next post for how to use and activate your mala (click the image after the instructions).

[Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links]

Intro: How I got into Malas (Living in Asia)

I remember being at a mountain temple in Korea around Buddha’s birthday and they had a special celebration, including a station under the Boddhi trees where you could make your own mala.  We strung each bead with a wish– 108 prayers and hopes.  I loved it- a warm, quiet day, perfect for taking a moment for spirituality.

At a fort in Suwon, South Korea, I got to ring an ancient bell– 3 rings per person– one for yourself, one for your family (or favorite loved ones), and one for the greater world.  I thought that was a beautiful sort of way to look beyond myself.  So I tried to incorporate some wishes for myself, some for my family and some for the world as I strung my mala.

I recently visited Mahamuni Pagoda, here in Mandalay to get some beads for making a new mala.  Mahamuni is a large colorful complex known for its gold Buddha image.  I’ve been a few times to visit the Buddha and to shop some of the temple stalls.  This time, I bought mostly colored wooden beads to make my own malas.

Why 108?How to make a Mala: knotting, tassels and an introduction to malas. Step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you in making your DIY mala

Malas always have 108 beads (or 216) because this number has great scientific significance in the Hindu tradition.  The circumference of the sun times 108 is the distance between the sun and the Earth and the same is true for the moon and Earth.  Also, there are 108 nadis or energy channels in the body.  There are 54 sanskrit letters- both masculine and feminine, totaling 108.  There are 108 Puranas and 108 Upanishads.  The list goes on and on!!  So that same sacred number is used in malas.

Making a Mala: Creating the Mood

I think it’s important to create a calm, spiritual space for making a mala.  For making my mala, I found a time for just me where I could be alone with my thoughts, wishes, candles and mantra.  In a way, it’s a bit of self-care to take the time out and simply create.

I chose the mantra, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, which roughly translates to “I bow to the divine and the teacher within myself.”  I listened to this mantra repeatedly as I worked.

You can also choose a mantra to weave into your mala, or you could choose an intention to focus on while you bead, or focus on a wish or goal you’d like to manifest.  You want to fill your mala with that intention or goal and with love as you bead it.

How to make a Mala: Knotting

How to make a Mala: knotting, tassels and an introduction to malas. Step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you in making your DIY malaHow to make a Mala: knotting, tassels and an introduction to malas. Step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you in making your DIY mala

I recommend finding silk thread (UPDATE! now that I’m in America I use Simply Silk Beading Thick Thread) that is made specifically for beading.  I looked around a bit, but I didn’t find any here in Mandalay so I opted for local hot pink yarn instead, naturally.  If you are using thread that may fray or pull, start from the center of your mala and work out from both sides so you don’t use one end of the thread excessively and damage it.

How to make a Mala: knotting, tassels and an introduction to malas. Step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you in making your DIY malaHow to string and knot the mala

  1. Start with a single knot
  2. Thread a bead onto the string and push it all the way up to the knot
  3. Tie a new knot under the new bead carefully– wind the threaded beads through to loop the knot, but don’t pull it tight yet.  Put tweezers through the loop of the knot to hold the string directly below the bead.  As you pull the string, the knot will tighten around the tweezers and glide up them to that spot on the string just below the bead
  4. Thread on another bead and slide it up
  5. Repeat the knot process again and again… 108 times!

Once you finish stringing and knotting the 108 beads, string the 2 ends of the mala through a guru bead (a larger bead that holds both sides of the threaded necklace), creating a circle.

Tassel

To Make the Tassel

  1. Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala
    See our malas on Etsy

    Wrap thread around a small rectangle of card stock or cardboard repeatedly so the thread makes many loops (thicker thread for beading would be better here too)

  2. String the threads from the guru bead through the loops and tie them underneath the loops
  3. Either with the thread from the guru bead or a new thread (depending on whether or not you want to change the color) wrap the thread around the loops near the top to hold the loops together– knot the thread to secure it.  I used the same thread from the necklace and wrapped the 2 ends in opposite directions so they would meet nicely to knot
  4. Cut through the loose end of the loops opposite the necklace to make the fringed edges of the tassel
  5. If your ends come out uneven, you can comb them to make sure they’re straight, then trim them with sharp scissors

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Malas: choosing one, activating it, and using your mala for meditation and manifestation

Once your mala is complete, you can activate it and use it for mediation or manifestation, or wear it to help bring new energy or healing.  Also, check out “Malas: choosing one, activating it, and using your mala for meditation and manifestation

 

How to make a Mala: knotting, tassels and an introduction to malas. Step-by-step instructions and photos to guide you in making your DIY mala

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy #restorative

Restorative Yoga: 7 Soothing Poses to Try

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorativeRestorative yoga is one of my new favorite ways to relax.  As your stretch, these poses help activate your nervous system.  It also increases your energy and helps release tension.  The organs also benefit from deep relaxation.  Restorative yoga can also help you find balance and focus as you release control and movement of your body and focus on your breath or simply one thought at a time.

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For most restorative poses you need a bolster, but before I sewed my official yoga bolster, I used a very full bed pillow (or you could try two smaller ones stacked on each other too).  Some poses also require a block, a strap, or a blanket.  In any of the supine poses (poses on your back), you can also use an eye pillow to block out light and add a little pressure to increase your relaxation.

As with any yoga poses, listen to your body- if it feels uncomfortable or painful, try a different pose instead.  I recommend you try these poses for 5-10 minutes, but you can hold them for up to an hour.  I recommend using a timer so you can relax your mind rather than wondering and checking how long it’s been.  In these poses, you can add additional soft props to hold up almost any part of your body that needs a little extra support (eg your arms if they are out to the side, under your knees if they’re uncomfortable on the mat, or under your head if your neck would benefit from a pillow in a reclining pose).  After each pose, I have also listed a counterpose, but if your body asks you to counter in another way, that’s fine too.  Here are a few restorative yoga poses for you to try.

Supported Child’s Pose

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorativeTo come into this pose, bring your big toes to touch and sit back on your feet with your knees spread open (as you would for traditional balasana).  Bring the bolster in close between your legs.  Stretch your torso up tall and use your hands to walk your torso forward and fold over the bolster.  Once you’re laying on the bolster, hug the bolster with your arms.  You can turn your head to either side and switch half-way through your pose.

Afterward use your hands to help you sit back up.  From there, send your weight forward for table top or downward facing dog for a counterpose.

Supported child’s pose soothes the shoulders and lower back.  It’s also calming.

Spinal twist

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For this pose, put your bolster in the center of the mat so both the mat and the bolster are the long way.  Sit sideways beside the short end of the bolster so your knees are bent with your legs tucked behind you (not under you).  One hip should be touching the end of the bolster.  Turn our torso so that you are facing the top of the mat.  Place your hands on either side of the bolster and lengthen upward before folding forward over the bolster.  For the pose, you will be laying on the bolster with one arm on the mat on either side of the bolster.  You can turn your head either way, depending on how deeply you wish to twist.  Afterward, walk your hands in, bringing your torso up.  Take a few rounds of cat/cow before doing the same pose on the second side.  Try to hold this pose for the same amount of time on each side.  After the second side, also do some cat/cow to help release the twist.

There is also a version where you lay on your back with your arms outstretched in line with your shoulders.  Bring your shins up parallel with the floor and place a blanket or small pillow between your knees.  Then let your legs come down to one side onto the mat as one if they were connected as one leg.

This pose is good for the back muscles, digestion, and breath.

Supported Virasana (Hero Pose)

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorative

For this pose, begin with the legs in tradition virasana- with the knees bent so the lower legs are outside of the thighs, but both parts are touching the mat.  If this is uncomfortable for you, you can try sitting on a bolster (between your legs) to decrease the tension in your knees.  When your legs are in position, bring a bolster up behind you, next to your sacrum and slowly use your hands, then forearms to lower yourself back onto the bolster.  Once you’re laying on the bolster, bring your arms out to the side.

When you have finished this pose- due to time or discomfort/tension, slowly come up onto your forearms and sit up, leading with your chest.  Take a few rounds of cat/cow to release your back or downward facing dog to work into the legs as well.

Supported virasana helps clear the respiratory system.  It can also help sinus and head pains.  It also relieves the leg muscles and aids in digestion.

Supported Bridge Pose

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For this pose, you need a block instead of a bolster.  Lay on your back and bring your heels in close to your pelvis.  Press into your feet into the mat to lift your pelvis high enough to bring the block in under your sacrum (the bony area near the base of your spine) with your hands.  Rest your sacrum down onto the block and bring your arms down onto the mat at an angle from your body.

When you release from this pose, press into your feet just enough to lift yourself off of your block and remove it from underneath you.  Then roll onto your side for a few breaths with your legs bent and tucked toward the chest.

Supported bridge pose stretches out the spine and helps clear the mind.

Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose

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Sit at the lower end of your mat with the soles of your feet touching and your knees open down toward the mat (as you do for traditional Supta Baddha Konasana).  You have the option to wrap a yoga strap around your feet below the ankles, over your legs and around your sacrum in the back.  Fasten the strap along the side so you can adjust it if you would like.

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Bring your bolster in behind your back, all the way up so it’s touching your sacrum then slowly lean back, walking your hands back along the mat to help you recline smoothly.  You can keep your arms at your side, resting on the mat, or your can stack your hands over your head.  The arms overhead configuration is actually an inversion because your arms are above your heart so it changes the way your blood flows, which can be a nice shift.

When you are ready to come out of the pose, roll off of the bolster to the side, release your legs from their strap and rest on your side for a moment with your knees tucked up toward your chest.

Supported Supta baddha konasana helps relieve stress.  It is also good for the back and groin.  It can lessen menstrual pains.  It also helps with breath.

Legs Up the Wall

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Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillowFor this pose, set your bolster right up next to the wall.  Then crouch in a little ball, sitting on the bolster, with one side of your body touching the wall.  Using your hands to guide you, roll back and toward the center of the mat so your back comes down onto the floor and your hips are still on the bolster.  Now your rear should be touching the wall.  If this roll doesn’t work for you, you can sit on the bolster and lay back, then scoot yourself closer and closer to the wall.  Once your rear is touching the wall, extend your legs straight up it.  You shouldn’t have to engage your muscles much to hold them in place- they should be able to lean against the wall comfortably.  Your arms can either come out at an angle from your body, or you can stack your hands overhead with elbows bent.

To exit the pose, push yourself off of the bolster, then bring your legs down and roll onto your side.  Take a few breaths here.

Because the legs are inverted, the blood from your legs will be sent down toward the pelvis then chest.  With the arms overhead, the pose version changes the blood flow in your arms as well because they are above the heart.

This pose, also called viparita karani, relieves stress and improves the functioning of the parasympathetic nervous system.

Supported Savasana

Restorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorative

Some people find savasana to be very uncomfortable.  You can add a pillow under the knees to help support the legs and lower back or add a blanket under the head and shoulders to support the upper body.  The arms rest on the floor at an angle from the body.

When you are ready to exit the pose, roll onto one side, with the knees tucked up for stability.

Savasana is the tradition final pose in most yoga classes because this neutral position is a great way to let the body relax and rejuvenate from the more strenuous poses.  This pose helps relieve stress and fatigue.  It also improves posture and breath.

Restorative YogaRestorative yoga is a super yummy way to relax, de-stress and stretch at the same time. These 7 poses can help your nervous system and increase your energy. #restorative

Restorative Yoga is a fantastic way to work on calm, breath, peace of mind, and bodily functions all at once.  Treat yourself and give it a try.

Moments of Mindfulness; great book recommendation for meditations Thich Nhat Hanh

Moments of Mindfulness: Must-Have Meditation Book by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh, but Moments of Mindfulness is my favorite.  It’s a set of 52 meditations, with the idea of having a new meditation to contemplate each week for a year.  Letting the words resonate within you for a full week leaves lots of room for insight and new understanding of the words and how they may apply to your life.  I’m going to share one of my favorite meditations from this book here

A flower
does not have to
do anything
to be of service,
it only has to be a flower.
That is enough.
A human being,
a true human being,
is enough
to make the whole world
rejoice

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The book also starts with a beautiful introduction on mindfulness; the true meaning and value of mindfulness, different ways to apply mindfulness to different aspects of your life, and miracles of mindfulness.  One of my favorite parts of the introduction is a breathing exercise.  I like to use parts of it in the warm-up for my yoga class, reminding yogis to relax and focus on their breathe and being present.

The book also has a nice spacious layout with soothing circular art accompanying each meditation.  It’s a nice size to hold too.

It’s a lovely little book!

Teaching Yoga in Nicaragua. A blog about a new yoga teacher's experience

Teaching Yoga in Nicaragua: a new yoga instructor’s experience

Teaching Yoga in Nicaragua. A blog about a new yoga teacher's experienceAfter signing up for yoga teacher training, I knew I wanted to make teaching yoga my LIFE… at least for a bit.  The stars strung together to offer me a perfect opportunity.

I had my eye on yogatrade.com for yoga teaching jobs.  I debated regularly if I should wait until after yoga teacher training or join immediately to start dreaming of my life in possible yoga teaching scenarios described on the site.  One day, I got an email offering 50% off of the subscription fee.  I joined that day and applied to positions that night.  I applied for a yoga internship in the Philippines, a volunteer position at a juice cleanse retreat in Portugal and to a volunteer position in Nicaragua.  I could barely sleep that night, I was so excited.

I heard back from the job in Nicaragua by the weekend.  We agreed to interview early in the next week via Skype.  I had a great time chatting with my interviewer and relating over the mishaps that occur in a country like Nicaragua or Myanmar.  I started off by saying my internet might cut out and she laughed, saying hers was the same.  We talked about monsoon seasons and flooding.  We talked about language, food, beaches, buses, and interacting with locals.  We really hit it off.  She said she was also hiring two other yogis for the same position so I could learn from their classes too.  That really appealed to me—it would be almost more like an internship than pure volunteering.  I was also excited about the proximity to the beach in San Juan del Sur.  And I was eager to help out—the hostel had several initiatives in town I could potentially volunteer with.  By the end of the call, the position was essentially mine.  I got an email formally offering it to me the next day and I accepted within the hour.  I told one of my friends about it, and she said it sounded like the volunteer position I would create for myself if I could make up my own dream post.  I agreed; it all sounded perfect.

Throughout yoga teacher training, I had an unfamiliar confidence and determination, knowing I would really be using everything we were talking about every day, coming up soon.  When we finished our training, I doubted myself and wondered if I was really ready, but I knew I had no choice.  My flight for Nicaragua was booked!

In the week leading up to the experience, a string of discouraging events took place.  Both of the other yoga teachers bailed.  One had trouble with her passport and was nearly thrown in jail in another South American country.  The other simply said, “I won’t be able to make it either.” Also the coordinator I hit it off with left the company.  Then I heard that elections were coming and there could be violent protests.  I didn’t let any of this stop me.  In the airport, I almost wasn’t allowed to board since I didn’t have a return flight, but that didn’t stop me either.

San Juan del Sur, my first yoga teacher experienceWhen I got to Nicaragua, I stayed in the capital for one night, waiting for a shuttle to take me south to San Juan del Sur.  It left 3 hours earlier than scheduled, so I took a “chicken bus” down with a guy I met in the hostel.  I told him all about how much I love yoga the whole way (and he actually seemed really interested, though he never did come to my class).

My first day, I got a tour of the hostel, which went something like, “here’s the bar/yoga studio.  The mats and stuff are in that cabinet.  Do you have any questions?”

My first yoga class was tough.  I planned it out and practiced the day before and ran through it over and over in my mind, describing how to do each pose.  When the big day came, I had trouble with lefts and rights when I was mirroring the class and questioned how long I was holding each pose.  My biggest problem, though, was confidence.  I had definite impostor-syndrome.  I wanted to tell everyone, “this is only my first class! Sorry if I’m doing things wrong!”  But at the end, I thanked everyone for coming and they thanked me.  They smiled and seemed happy enough.  Weeks later, when I told one of the girls who had come that it had been my very first class that she attended, she said she was shocked.

I got into a good routine of teaching yoga, practicing yoga, meditating, blogging, swimming in the sea, watching the sunsets, taking Spanish lessons and traveling on the weekend.

Teaching yoga in Nicaragua. Bridge from the stage where I taught big classesFor yoga, I worked hard to create open-level classes with a collection of variations so that whoever came to my class could be challenged in their own level.  I never knew how many students would come, what their level would be, or what kind of yoga they expected.  Sometimes “students” far outshined and outstretched me, gracefully bending deep into my prescribed shapes.  Sometimes people watched me with a constant perplexed grimace, unsure of how to match their body to mine.

I followed a formula we learned in yoga teacher training to try to address every part of the body using a variety of types of poses.  One girl thanked me after a class, saying it was just what her body needed.  People asked me what type of yoga I taught, and I said I was trained in Hatha, but it was hard to know.  I thought of Pradeep Teotia describing kinds of yoga, “hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, ashtanga yoga, aerial yoga, yoga-lates, acroyoga… some other shit yoga!  Yoga is just yoga!”  Each day, I came closer to knowing my yoga and learned from my mistakes how to be a better yoga teacher.

Sometimes I forgot my place and had to spend a long pause looking at my notes.  Sometimes people corrected me on left and rights.  Sometimes people corrected my cuing alignment.  One day I had 19 people in a space for 10.  Sometimes parades went by and I could hardly even hear myself over the music and drumming.  One time, only one student came and she didn’t do the poses I said even when I asked if there was anything she wanted to focus on or if she had any injuries we needed to work around.  I also started doing sunset yoga on the beach, which was pretty magical with the waves purring as they crept onto the beach in front of us.

In class, I tried to remember to cue moments to use the straps and blocks.  I also learned to go a little slower, breath a little more, and make people do some “weird” stuff.  I did restorative poses, chanted om and asked everyone to be still for short meditations.  I told people to stick out their tongues in Kali and made little jokes about some of the poses.  People laughed with me.  Most people who came seemed to enjoy our hour together almost as much as I did.  People would smile and sometimes thank me again at breakfast.

Eventually, another teacher did come.  It was so nice to have a yoga class to go to and to learn from.  We had lots of fun showing each other funky poses and stretches and exploring outside the studio as well.

But there were still some down-sides.  The internet came and went, as did the water in the apartment.  Sharing the small space with 8-10 volunteers was tough- no one wanted to take on cleaning.  The walk home up a dark high-way was frightening, especially after one of my roommates saw a machete-fight.  Construction started on the hostel, so I would say, “breathe in [kong, kong, kong] and out” over the hammering noises.  I felt lost sometimes waiting for my daily hour of teaching.  The wall and the roof of the volunteer apartment didn’t actually meet, so tarantulas and scorpions could (and did) crawl in.  I met a toad one night in the bathroom and a cat in the kitchen.  A praying mantis leapt into my bed another night in the dark and I nearly killed an Atlas moth in my fan when it came toward my light in the night.  Also it was just too darn hot in the apartment.  One time, the water tank leaked in through my window, drenching all of my clothes.  To top it off, I got fleas from a cat that crept in.  In that moment, I called out to the universe “ok, ok!  I hear you!  I’ll go!”  The next morning, the landlord told us to be extra careful because he saw a thief lurking by the bars that served as our apartment’s front wall.  That sealed the deal for me.  The hostel coordinator said he understood and wasn’t upset about me leaving earlier than originally planned.

Sunset in San Juan del Sur, my first yoga teacher experienceI packed up and prepared to go to Guatemala.  Everyone said San Marcos is a yogi’s dream.  The night before I was planning to fly out, I got an email from my old boss and someone had quit, leaving an opening for me back in my old job in my old world- with my boyfriend and my friends, in the rice paddies, by the dusty markets and the lazy cows, with all those adorable smiling children.  My decision was made before the actual job offer even came through.  I was back in Myanmar before I knew it.

My first yoga teaching experience was gone as quickly as it came.  As hard as the situation was sometimes, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I learned so much from teaching every day.  I was so thankful that they let me experiment and learn and grow as a yoga teacher even though I had no experience, nothing to back me up.  They took a chance on me in a way I can still hardly believe.  I am also proud to have pushed myself and followed my passion, even if it was a bit short-lived.

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