Tag: how to

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!

 

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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 🙂

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.

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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.
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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!

 

 

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

DIY Bolster: how to make a yoga pillow for super yummy poses

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

[Just so you know this post contains affiliate links]

Yoga bolsters are great props, especially for restorative and yin poses.  They’re also nice to sit on for meditation.  If you don’t have a shop to buy one in your area or if you want one on the cheap, you can make a bolster on your own.

 

Materials for your bolster

  • fabric
    • one large piece 28″ by 18″ plus seam allowance
    • two small pieces 6″ by 3″ plus seam allowance
  • stuffing
  • sewing supplies (thread, sewing machine or needle, scissors, etc)

 

How to sew your bolster

  1. The Shanti (Peace) Women's Yoga Tank Top is a colorful reminder of the sanskrit mantra meaning peace
    Also check out our yoga shop 🙂

    Cut your fabric to size, don’t forget to leave some extra room for seam allowance

  2. Pin then sew the long sides of the big piece of fabric together, with the right sides of the fabric together
  3. Pin one small pieces onto an open ends of the large piece (which is now a tube)– if the corners don’t match perfectly, it will be an ovular end, which will also work
  4. Sew the small end piece into place
  5. Repeat with the other end piece, but leave an opening for the stuffing rather than sewing all the way around
  6. Turn the pillow right-side out
  7. Stuff it FULL (you want a nice firm base to support your yoga poses)
  8. With a needle and thread, stitch up the opening you left for stuffing

For a pillow case

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala Necklace- 108 Hand-knotted beads
Also see our malas and yoga wear on Etsy

Follow the same steps as the pillow itself, except you will need slightly larger fabric (e.g. 30″ x 19″ and 7″x 4″) so the case can fit around the pillow.  Also, rather than sewing closed the long side, install a closure like a zipper or buttons.  Later, when you add the second end, you can seal it all the way up rather than leaving a hole for stuffing.

How to use the bolster

7 Restorative Poses to relax and rejuvenateCheck out some poses to try with your bolster in this post on restorative yoga by clicking the image on the right.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY bolster! Step by step instructions for how to make a yoga bolster, including photos and standard dimensions. Also, some restorative poses to try with this yoga pillow #bolster #yogabolster

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).

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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

Mala necklaces: how to use choose and activate your mala. Also details on how to meditate with your mala and manifest a wish #mala

Malas: how to use, choose and activate your mala

Mala necklaces: how to use choose and activate your mala. Also details on how to meditate with your mala and manifest a wish #malaMalas are a string of beads used for meditation.  They help with concentration by giving you something to focus on, but they also can have a more spiritual side.  A mala can help you to manifest some sort of wish or goal or help you find a new connection with a mantra, affirmation or even your breath.

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

How to Choose a Mala

If you’re in a store with the malas, try holding them towards your heart or your third eye, ideally with both hands.  See which one speaks to you- makes you feel something.  Often, you will be drawn to the gem, crystal or theme that you need most. Some people say that the mala will be drawn to you!  If you’re shopping online, often you will still be drawn to one that will resonate with you the most.  Most malas also have a description of the beads that were used and how they can benefit you.  Many were made with an intention or wish the mala can help manifest.

How to activate your Mala

Amazonite and Rudraksha Mala
See our malas on Etsy

To activate your mala, whether you made it, bought it, or received it as a gift, you can do a small ceremony before wearing it.  To start, light a candle or incense or make your space safe and sacred in whatever way you usually do.  Find a comfortable seat like you would for meditation- sit up tall, and straight in a calm, mindful way.  Start by getting in touch with your breath.  Focus on it and if thoughts come, allow them to pass.  Then starting from the guru bead (the biggest one that the tassel or decoration comes from) start to run the mala through your fingers, one bead for each breath.  However, this technique can be adapted to fit your needs- find your own way.  As you do this, think of an intention you wish to lock into your mala or something you would like to manifest with the energy of your mala.  Also, you can chant “Om Hrim Namah Shivaya Om” aloud or internally.  This mantra is traditional for activating and energizing a new mala.  This phrase salutes Shiva (God of creation and destruction), brings together masculine and feminine, and opens the mind to the divine.  When you finish your ceremony, hold your mala to your heart and your third eye.  You can sit for another moment if you wish.  Now, the mala is yours, bound to you spiritually through your ceremony.  It contains the power and energy you activated it with.  The mala still carries its same spiritual powers if you wear it as a bracelet or necklace.

How to use a Mala for Meditation

Mala necklaces: how to use choose and activate your mala. Also details on how to meditate with your mala and manifest a wish #mala

Before you begin, you can bow to each of the 4 directions to connect with the universe.  Or set an intention or devote your meditation to a God, Goddess, friend or cause.

Start by finding a comfortable seat.  Cross your legs or try to lotus position.  Also, you can sit in a chair, sit on a meditation cushion or bolster or lay down if you prefer.  It’s your meditation, so find what works for you.  Just be sure you can stay aware– you don’t want to be so comfortable that you may lose focus or fall asleep.  Hold your mala at the guru bead (the big one) between your thumb and middle or ring finger (the pointer finger is associated with the ego, which is undesirable).  As your meditation progresses, you will move the beads through your fingers one at a time.

Using the mala with your breath

You can associate the beads to your breath- inhale and exhale.  (Or try kumbhaka: add a pause in between your inhale and exhale by retaining your breath for a couple of counts. To start, try inhaling for 4 breaths, retaining for 2 and exhaling for 4).

Using your mala with a mantra

Alternatively, and perhaps more traditionally, you can use a mantra for your meditation.  In this case, you will say the mantra aloud or internally with each breath.  You can try traditional sanskrit mantras or mantras in English, like Thich Nhat Hanh’s inhale: calm/exhale: ease or inhale:present moment/exale: wonderful moment.  Also affirmative statements work as mantras, like “I am” for the root chakra.

Using your mala to manifest

Mala necklaces: how to use choose and activate your mala. Also details on how to meditate with your mala and manifest a wish #mala

If you would like to manifest a wish, you can ask the universe for help with each bead’s movement.

There is no limit to the mantras, breaths, and concepts you can attach to your beads for your meditation.

Sealing your practice

How to Make a Mala: knotting and making a tasselWhen you finish your meditation, bow forward to seal in your practice.  Re-enter this world slowly, taking time to bring your awareness back to your surroundings after your meditative state.

Also check out our article on how to make a mala (click the image below)

 

 

Mala necklaces: how to use choose and activate your mala. Also details on how to meditate with your mala and manifest a wish #mala

How to get up into handstands: asana sequences and tutorial

Guide to Handstands: Asanas, Sequences and Tips for Getting Comfortable Upside Down

Being able to easily hang out upside down in a handstand is definitely one of my personal goals.  It’s something that I am still working on as I write this, but I have gained substantial progress.  My biggest obstacle now is confidence.  I need to get myself away from the wall and trust that my muscles know how to hold me up even without that wall a couple of feet away “just in case.”  In this post, I want to share the asanas and exercises that I’ve done to get myself to the verge of being able to successfully handstand.  I feel like I’m just about to push over into the place where I can DO handstands (Adho Mukha Vrksasana in sanskrit).

Building Strength

First, it’s important to have the strength to hold yourself up(side-down).  We don’t usually spend so much time upside down so this strength may be totally new.  The most important areas that I had to work were my core, my shoulders, my arms, and my wrists… so everything but the legs!

Arm Strength

For arm strength, I practiced a variation on chaturangas.  Starting from child’s pose, keeping the knees on the floor, press your body forward toward your hands (with fingers spread wide to make a solid base).  When your body is over your arms and your elbows are bent nearly to 90 degrees, drop your chest down and forward like a chaturanga.  Then press your body forward and up to cobra pose.  From there, back to child’s pose and repeat!  Again and again and again.

I also tried sitting on the counter or a bench and lifting myself up by pressing into the bench or seat (or whatever surface is available to you).  Try this with your hands on the outside of your legs and from in between your legs.

Dolphin Pose/Ardha Pincha Mayurasana

Shoulder Strength

For my shoulders, I worked on dolphin pose (Ardha Pincha Mayurasana in sanskrit).  Since you’re nearly upside down in this pose, I found it helpful for building the muscles that I would need to flip all the way upside down.

Core Strength

For core strength, I worked on lots of plank variations– side plank, forearm plank, holding plank, etc.

Also, I tried this sort of C-shape pose, lifting my legs and head from the ground.  I listened to a podcast from The Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood.

C shape poses to build core strength

He recommended this pose for training your body to be long and straight for handstands.  As you can see in my handstand, the body can bend in backwards, rather than being perfectly stick straight.  This C shaped pose aims to correct that.

Preparatory Poses: L Shape Pose

Another great training pose for handstand is L-shape pose.  To measure for this position, sit on the floor with your feet out straight in front of you touching the wall.  Where your hips and hands hit the ground is where you want your hands to be when you are upside down instead.  With your hands in that place on the floor, walk your feet up the wall until your legs are parallel with the floor/perpendicular with the wall.  You want your body to be a 90 degree angle.  When you feel comfortable and confident in this position, try extending one leg at a time over your body in line with your body, as if you will go into handstand from there.

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Lucas also says it’s better to practice your handstands facing the wall.  That way you can walk your hands into the wall, gaining strength.  If you need to fall out of the handstand from this pose, it’s easy to let your body to fall to one side, supported (physically or emotionally) by the wall.

In teacher training, however, we practiced with our backs to the wall.  We practiced from standing, exhaling as you bend over your front leg and reach your hands to the floor, then inhaling as your feet extend up to the wall.

Preparatory Poses: Kicking Up

We also tried kicking up, starting with both hands on the floor.  This is harder because you can’t use as much momentum.  However, it’s good for building strength, confidence, and understanding of what straight really feels like.  If you kick up with just one leg, it’s nearly impossible to topple over the back, but you can still get a good feel for what it will be like when you are ready to try both legs.

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A few more handstand tips:

Spread your fingers to make a solid base for handstands
  • Try looking a little bit in front of your hands instead of at them
  • Spread your fingers for a nice solid base to support yourself
  • Stretch and strengthen your wrists so they can handle the weight of your body.  If your wrists are not flexible, try putting a small board or a thin book/notebook under the heel of your hand when you practice handstands
  • Press into the ground with your hands to engage your arms more
  • Squeeze your legs together like you’re trying to hold an apple between them
  • Keep working at it every day!

 

[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!]