Favorite Things: Kosha Covers

Recently, I got invited to try out a several new products from Kosha. The main draw was the chance to try out an item called a mat cover. It looks like this:

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The idea behind the mat cover is simple: You take your standard sized rubber mat and place it inside the cover. There is a zipper on the backside of the cover (about halfway down) that allows the mat to remain enclosed and stable. Once you have your mat inside, you do your practice on top of the mat cover. No towel needed!

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Zips across the back of the cover.

Now, I’ve tried out various products that don’t require towels. At the time I was asked to review this I was already using a mat that did not require a towel at all. So while the idea of not having to use a towel may appeal to some, that wasn’t the big draw for me. Kosha made some claims about their mat cover that really excited me. They were:

  • anti-bacterial
  • odor-resistant
  • water absorbent
  • slip-resistant
  • machine washer/dryer safe
  • eco-friendly

All of these appealed to me, and I was very interested about the odor-resistant claim. While I do have several mats that do not require a towel (and one that I am only supposed to wash one-two days per week), they all stink at some level. Even the one that I am not supposed to wash every day always gets a little funky.

I was very excited then to try to make my Kosha mat stink. In fact, my number one goal was to make this mat cover stink.

In talking with Ash, the founder of Kosha, my initial understanding was that I could practice on the mat for about seven classes before taking the over off and washing it. I spent the entire week set up in the swamp section of the room. As luck would have it, I was practicing during a heat wave which resulted in the room being anywhere from 105-110 degrees and 40-50% humidity.

I sweated all over that mat cover.

For the first few classes, I found that the cover absorbed buckets and buckets of my sweat. It was also not smelling. Each day I would return to the studio and sniff my mat (actually I would inhale it). At some point I started asking other people to smell it. I’m sure everyone thought this was very strange. But it really didn’t smell!

Around class four or five, I started noticing puddles forming on my mat. By class seven I was laying in a small river. The mat cover still did not smell.

I shared my experience with the puddling with Ash who responded:

I have had one other person tell me before how the cover would start to puddle, and I too noticed that on mine, but that was when I once waited 2 weeks to wash it. I believe with people who sweat a lot (or like you being in a part of the room to make yourself sweat as much as possible to test 🙂 ) than washing needs to be every 2-3 days because of the level of coating we use. When the other person who told me that and myself started washing after 2-3 sessions, we did not have the problem anymore. 
1. When did you notice the puddling? On day 3 and than continued to stay puddle for the rest of the days? 
The absorbency has to do with the coating, we used a level 3 for our covers to satisfy the masses. We are going to come out with a level 4/5 for people who sweat a lot more soon to help with that problem! 
So, with the above in mind I went back for a seven day retest. This time around, the heat wave had ended and class was at it’s normal 105/40%. I still practiced in the swamp though. This time I wasn’t interested in trying to get the mat to stink (I had given up on that), and was focused more on the puddling issue.
Under normal Bikram conditions, I did not notice any puddling until the end of class five. Even then, it was very slight. I washed the cover and the puddling stopped. My conclusion is that Ash was right. If you notice a puddle at the end of class, just take it home and wash it and then it will go back to not puddling. You should be able to get at least four solid classes out of it before having to wash it. And no, I never got the mat cover to stink.
Other Things I Loved
While my main goal was to make the cover stink, it never started to smell. That’s awesome! But here are some other great things you should know about it:
  • once the rubber mat is inside the cover, you do not have to worry about it. it will not get wet. I know, I unzipped mine in the middle of class to check. even when I had the puddling issue, the mat still did not get wet.
  • washing and drying the cover are super simple. The cover can be washed in any kind of washer because it just folds up and goes in like a towel.
  • it will not bang the crap out of your washer and dryer. it’s far too light to do any damage
  • you can clean your cover between sessions. I explained to Ash that I had the studio clean and store my mat and she said:

Yes, it is okay if the studio sprays down the cover as long as the spray does not have bleach or harsh chemicals in them (they will destroy the product’s longevity). All of our products can be spot cleaned with only soap and water, or natural oils, in between washings.

Ash also said that you can hang the mat to dry, and it will typically dry within an hour. I didn’t know that because I spoiled myself with a mat cleaning service.

Some More Fun Facts

I haven’t said much about the eco-friendly aspect of the mat cover. Probably because I was so hung up on the fact that I couldn’t get it to smell! In creating the cover, Kosha worked with a company that would not bring any harm to the environment. In discussing their approach to creating the cover, the Kosha web site states:

Kosha fabric is a bamboo polyester blend.   Besides being a natural resource, we also choose to use our trademarked fabric for the following reasons:
1. Kosha fabric   is highly water-absorbent taking in 3-4 times more moisture than cotton.
2. Kosha fabric is a natural fiber, meaning it has been grown without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
3. Kosha fabric is very lightweight and strong.
4. Both the bottom fabric and coating are highly specialized and free of toxic chemicals.

It’s a bamboo/polyester blend (read even more here)!While this is great for the reasons they cited, do you know what else is great about it? The mat cover is super soft. I had several people stand on the mat cover (and some who just wanted to fondle it!) and everyone agreed on the softness of it. Another nice thing I noticed is that the rubber mat inside the cover does not move at all once you get it in, and the cover does not bunch up or slip on the floor.

All my other mats bunch up to some extent. In fact, the one I had been using prior always bunched up during the warm-up series. I had this habit of jerking it back to straighten it out when we got to party time. I jerked my mat cover to straighten it out (out of habit) and the only thing that happened was I jerked the whole thing across the floor and looked rather silly. It didn’t need to be fixed at all.

My Conclusion

This mat cover may be the best thing since sliced bread. It is truly amazing. You can use it for days on end, and it will never smell. At all. Not even the tiniest bit. It’s super soft and easy to wash and dry. It doesn’t slip or bunch up. This is the first time I have never had an issue with my mat. It seems like I always have a slight issue – be it bunching or a slight odor after a few days – but this mat cover has taken all that away.

Want To Try It?
Interested in trying a Kosha mat cover? You can go here and grab one! You’ll notice that they have other products besides the cover. In two weeks, I’ll be sharing with you my experiences on using their mat bag and tote (LOVE!). Kosha sells the Ultimate Bikram Yoga Package which gives you all of this.
And good news! Kosha is giving you 20% off any and all of their products. Just use mybikramyogalife as your coupon code when you check out!
Enjoy!

Retro Throwback: Soon I’ll Only be able to Breathe

On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.

I am going to have to own up to the fact that there are things far worse in life than doing stupid camel. I am also going to have to own up to the fact that maybe camel has actually taught me a thing or two.

Recently, I came down with a no good, horrible, very bad toothache. It was a tooth that, five years ago, had a root canal and a crown put on it. When I went to the dentist, the x-ray showed nothing. We agreed that in all likelihood it was cracked. It was going to need to come out and so off to the oral surgeon I went.

Before I could totally skip out of the dentist’s office though, he wanted to make an impression of my lower teeth (the tooth in question was on the top). Now, I’m in pain here. I showed up to the dentist first thing in the morning unable to talk without crying. I’m not exaggerating. I hate getting impressions done, but they needed it for whatever reason. No choice.

I told you I was awesome.

To conquer this moment, I found a spot on the wall to focus on. I actually said to myself, “Find someplace on the wall to look at just like you would in camel. Crap. Camel? Has camel just taught me something? Stupid camel.” But that’s what I did. I found my spot on the wall like I would in camel and breathed through it. It was fine. I even managed to relax a bit.

Then I got to skip on down to the oral surgeon who also thought the tooth was cracked. It needed to come out. Great. Once I understood the procedural aspects of it all can you guess what the first question was I asked? Right – Once the tooth is pulled, how long until I can get back to yoga?

He said I could literally go back the next day if I felt up to it, but he thought I probably wouldn’t be hydrated enough to do so. Good call on that one. Also, my car decided to blow up on July 2nd and I couldn’t get it back until the afternoon of the 5th so that pretty much just knocked yoga out for four days straight. But as soon as I get my car I will be back in class.

So for now, I’ve learned that camel may not be so bad. Yes, I hate doing it, but having a massive toothache is much worse. Plus, camel has also taught me how to focus in on things and breathe when I am uncomfortable so maybe it is ok. But the Universe? My friend the Universe still pretty much sucks what with the toothache and the car blowing up and what not.

Retro Throwback: My 10 Day Hiatus

On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.

Recently I took a 10-day hiatus from my practice. On one hand, the reason for doing so was a very practical one – I was out of town on business. However, there was a studio in my area, and I could have practiced. It would have meant attending mostly 6:30 pm classes, but I could have gone. I decided though before I left that I was going to forgo class for those days.

What? Why?

Well, usually I take a vacation each year were there is no Bikram studio or simply no time to get to one. But I also think that taking a week or even two off a year (all at once) can be a good thing. I find it gives me a nice mental break. I’m not sure if the physical break is good or not, but the mental one seems to be good.

My back had also started to bother me again just before I left town. This was highly annoying. I had gone nearly two months without any back issues. I was still scaling back in my practice (no kicking out in SH2K; no rabbit; no sit-ups…etc…) so I knew I wasn’t pushing myself there in a way that should have hurt me. I thought taking a break might be a good thing.

hiatus

So how long do you think my break actually lasted?

Surprisingly, it lasted the entire 10 days. I *almost* went to class around Day Seven (and yes, I had brought some yoga clothes and my hydroflask with me just in case). One evening, I was out with some people in my group and someone said she did yoga. I mentioned I also did yoga, and the next thing I knew I had three people who had never, ever done Bikram yoga before saying they wanted to go to yoga.

How do you say no to that, right? You don’t. When people want to go to yoga you arrange a trip to yoga. I suggested we go to a 6:30 pm class on a day when I knew the instructor. The person teaching will occasionally teach classes at my studio, and I assured everyone she was very,  very nice. I instructed everyone about drinking water, eating right, etc…you know what you would normally tell a new person. I stressed that it wouldn’t be about doing the postures so much as it was about being present in the room.

So we were all set to go until the day before. On this day, I was asked by one of the organizers at the event I was at if I would take our guest speaker out for dinner on the day I was supposed to take everyone to yoga. Of course I had to say yes. I wanted to say yes. I felt bummed about the yoga, but I wasn’t in town to do yoga. I was in town for business, and I decided that my priorities had to shift to focus on my work while I was here. Besides, I liked the speaker we had coming in and wanted to take him out (I used the opportunity to go to an entirely vegan restaurant and it was awesome).

This meant I had to back out of yoga which meant no one in my group was now going to go to yoga. But hey, I took them all along to dinner so it wasn’t a total loss.

Unfortunately, we had planned our trip to yoga near the end of our travel, and our schedule didn’t allow for us to reschedule it. It was an opportunity lost.

By the end of my 10 days, I was looking forward to getting back in the studio, but I also found I had enjoyed my little stint away. Everyday I made time for a walk – usually lasting about 75 minutes. I found a nice trail near my hotel and enjoyed listening to the birds, seeing rabbits, and even a snake! My back got better, but I think it was from a trip to the spa and not the lack of yoga that did it.

I’m headed back from my 10-day hiatus, and looking forward to hitting the studio on Day 11. I’m curious to see what my practice will be like after being gone this long. It’s always different, and never what I might expect.

Memories From the Hot Room

Yesterday was the last day my studio was open. Today, I am headed off to a new studio to give something different a try. It’s still hot yoga, but it’s hot flow (and I have no idea how hot it will be because the website doesn’t say).

Although I had known about my studio closing for a month, it didn’t really hit me until Thursday night. When I went to the 4:30 class on Friday, I was super sad. I spent a lot of time during class thinking about all the things I had experience and gained from coming to this studio.

It’s helpful to keep in mind that this blog has been running for 3.5 years. While I’ve practiced longer than that, I’ve been going to class nearly everyday since starting this blog. So suddenly not having the studio around is a significant change for me.

Anyways, here are some of the things I realized I experienced/learned about myself in the hot room:

  • discomfort: I experienced a lot of discomfort, and early on there were numerous times I wanted to quit. yoga was hard. the heat was hard. it was all so very hard.
  • a divorce: I went through a divorce and having class to show up to was a lifesaver – especially because at that point in my life I was using the hot room to nap in before class.
  • my head on my knee: this studio was the place where I first got my head on my knee in SH2K. a big accomplishment.
  • advanced class and competition: this is where I took my first advanced class and trained for two yoga competitions. after my first advanced class I had a giant bruise on my foot.
  • met my yoga boyfriend: I met and hung out with my yoga boyfriend at this studio
  • this hysterical double
  • I split my knees open trying to learn how to do mountain. sometimes they would crack open during a regular Bikram class, and I would bleed on my mat. didn’t care.
  • going to class with cracked ribs and bruises after falling off a horse
  • yoga buddies
  • learning how to breathe
  • learning self-acceptance
  • learning to not have expectations
  • learning patience with myself and others
  • minimizing distractions or at least acknowledging them and then letting them go
  • class is over – let it go
  • that posture is over – let it go
  • i have developed greater focus and a clearer mind (relative to me!)

This list could continue on,  but I think you get the point. As I lay in a savassana, I realized that this yoga had given so much to me and asked only one thing in return: That I show up.

That’s it folks. All this yoga does is ask that you keep showing up. You don’t have to do all the postures, and when you do them you just do them the best that you can that moment without judgement.

The problem is that I have become emotionally attached to this studio and that room – and I know better. I know it is time to let it go and to let my practice evolve however it is going to evolve. I have no choice, but that doesn’t make it easy.

I will always miss this hot room.

Retro Throwback: Go to Yoga!!!

On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.

Mark, my long-distance yoga buddy over at Do the Posture, Please!! had a great post back in May called Go to Yoga!! It’s one of my favorite posts ever. Why? Because first of all it’s all true, and second it’s totally inspiring.

I needed some inspiration and reminders that going to class is a good thing. I had a bit of a sucky summer.

Why did my summer stink? Here are a few answers:

1. It was a bit on the cool side temperature wise outside this year. Go to yoga!! At least it’s hot in there

2. I had an infected tooth that had to be pulled. Go to yoga!! Go before and after that sucker gets pulled.

3. The water pump on my car exploded. Go to yoga!! Oh wait…I have no car…ok… Go for a walk!!

4. Sweet Maximum passed away at the age of 12. Go to yoga!! Work through the emotions that come up.

Camel loves you

5. I was broke from all the money spent on my tooth and my car. Go to yoga!! It’s already paid for.

6. I have to watch what I do because of my back. Go to yoga!! Smile because sometimes I honestly can’t do triangle or camel.

At the end of the day, I was always glad I chose to go to yoga. Do you know what is worse than going to yoga when you are having a rough time? Not going at all.

 

The Universe Tests My Patience

I’m convinced that my practice has helped me become more patient (in general) and more accepting of what I can and cannot change. Upon attempting to return home about a week ago from a work trip, the Universe decided to have me run a small gauntlet.

It didn’t start out that way though. At first, the trip started out perfect.

I had called a cab the day before and scheduled a pick up time. The cab showed up exactly at the arranged time. We got to the airport with no problem. There was really no line to speak of in security. I got through relatively quickly (they had to search my backpack, but it turned out it was all the fudge I was trying to take home that raised alarms). I found a restaurant for breakfast, was seated, and was served immediately.

My plane was already there when I rolled up to the gate. I got on with no problem. We pulled in to the Detroit airport about three gates down from my connecting flight (which was also already at the gate!). This was going so well.

I had upgraded my seats for the trip home so I had more leg room. As I boarded the plane in Detroit, I discovered that I had my little row all to myself. We all got on, the doors were shut, and we were ready to push back.

And then we weren’t.

Turns out there was an issue with an air traffic control computer in Virginia. What it meant was flights along the east coast had been shut down. There was no flying in and out of Raleigh – period – until the issue was resolved. At first, I chose to stay on the plane because our pilot suspected we had an hour at best until we left. I stretched out across the seats and read. But eventually it became clear we had no idea when we would leave and so he kicked us all off.

However, we were told not to stray too far because we would likely be boarding again soon.

I was hungry, but I was also wary of wandering off in search of food. So I accepted that the only thing within sight distance of my gate was a Popeye’s Chicken. I got myself some chicken and took it back to the gate. Let’s just say that didn’t pan out well with my stomach.

Eventually, around 4:30, we were able to leave Detroit. I had spent 5 1/2 hours there. So now we’re off. The flight itself was fine. And then we went in for a landing.

It was obvious we were going down and about to land, but then we suddenly pulled back up and started heading in the wrong direction. Turns out, the pilot hadn’t come down enough to land and needed to circle back around and do it again. This added maybe 10 minutes on to the flight. It’s not a big deal EXCEPT when you’ve been stuck in an airport for 5 1/2 hours and just want to get home after being gone an entire week.

We landed. I had my bags with me, and I headed to my car.

I got in the elevator to take me to the 4th floor of the parking deck. A family of three got in with me. Right as we pulled up to the fourth floor the elevator stopped just a tad shy of being even with the floor and able to open.

It. Just. Stopped.

We all looked at each other. I said, “I’m sorry. This is about me. This is the kind of day that I’m having.”

The elevator inched up a bit. Then stopped. Then inched up a bit. Then stopped. Then, it finally got itself even with the floor. It stopped completely and did nothing.

I had been so freaking patient all day long, and now this. Now I couldn’t get out of the elevator.

“I’m going to hit this [the open door] button,” I said out loud to the Universe, “and you are going to open this door. I have been very patient all day. Enough.”

I am sure I sounded like a crazy person to the people in the elevator with me. But the door opened. I thanked The Universe in my head and moved on with my life.

Back in my car.

Back  home.

Back to yoga.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Retro Throwback: My Yoga Struggles

On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.

Welcome to the second issue of the  Yoga Carnival! The theme for this issue is My Yoga Struggles. Bloggers were asked to contribute a post about anything related to the struggles they have encountered as a part of their yoga practice. I hope you find the results interesting because I think you are in store for some fascinating reads. So grab some popcorn (or kale…whatever is your thing) and enjoy the ride.

1. Ten Lies We Tell Ourselves in Yoga Class: I’ve lied to myself in yoga class for almost a decade. It’s just part of the process. We come to our mats full of expectations for ourselves, our bodies and the people around us, and over time we realize that the lies we tell ourselves about having to be thin, or flexible etc. just don’t matter. That’s part of the beauty of yoga, it allows us to let go of those lies and live our lives. In this piece I take ten lies I’ve told myself over the years, and struggled with, and put them in context that is hopefully helpful for yogis of all disciplines.

 2. It’s Never Easy: I define the word struggle and think about how the word applies to my practice. Struggles push us, and they are not always easy, but they are not always terrible. Many good things can come from struggles.
3. The Panic Attack: What happens when you follow a panic attack with a yoga class?

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