Favorite Things: Aurorae Aqua

You might recall that a little over a year ago I had the chance to try out the Aurorae Yoga Mat (and some lucky reader got a free one!). A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted again and asked if I would be interested in trying out the Aurorae Aqua towel.

Yes, please!

First, a bit of background information about the towel. It’s described as a beach/swim towel, but when I received it beach/swim season was over for me. You could argue that beach/swim season was still on a few weeks ago, but I would tell you that the pool water was in the 80’s meaning I was not going in it. I had to find other ways to test out the towel which I will get to.

The towel is extra long which I love. It’s 32″ x 68″ so you can wrap yourself up in it. It folds up super easy and would be simple to take to the pool or the beach or anywhere you wanted it to go.

I took my towel to the car. I know, such an exciting life I live.

But my rationale was that I needed a towel after class. Even when I wipe myself off in the hot room, I continue to sweat all the way home. I needed a towel that I could put on my car seat. The Aqua Towel worked perfectly for that. Since it is over-sized, it easily covered the back and bottom of my car seat.

The towel is also microfiber and, I was told, was going to be super absorbent. Absorbency is key here since I had put the towel on my car seat.

So, how did it work?

Well, first let me start by saying that in the past I have put a normal beach towel on my car seat. I gave this practice up years ago because I just ended up sitting on a soggy towel. Also, the towel got bunched up from time to time or slipped down the back as I was driving. As my car got older and older, I decided I didn’t care anymore and just forgot about using the towel. I’m not sure it was helping anyways.

The Aqua towel doesn’t do any of those annoying things. First, the towel covers the seat AND it stays in place. That alone made it far more comfortable right off the bat. Second, even though I keep right on sweating after class the towel seems to pretty much stay dry. I’m not sitting in a soggy pool of wet towel when I get home, and that is awesome.

I have used the towel to wipe myself off after class. We all know how gross we can be after class! The sweat came right off and the towel felt dry. It basically just sucked up my sweat and took it to a better place.

Want to give it a try and see if you agree? The nice people at Aurorae are giving away one free aqua towel to one of you! The towel comes in eight colors with each color being connected to a beautiful waterfront location (I have Mediterranean seas).

So here’s what to do….

  1. head over to the MBYL facebook page.
  2. Look for the post on the Aurorae Aqua towel
  3. in the comments section of the post, just say enter!

One person will be drawn at random. You must live in the continental U.S. to enter (sorry). You will be able to enter until noon on Wednesday, October 7th. Drawing will occur sometime that afternoon.

Good Luck!

 

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Favorite Things: Kosha Mat Bag & Tote

Two weeks ago, I told you about my experience with Kosha mat covers. Today, I want to tell you about the two other products I got to try: the mat bag and the tote.

The Mat Bag

The mat bag is up first because it’s pretty straight-forward. I didn’t do any experiments on it to see if I could make it stink. It works just like the description says it does – you just roll up your mat (with the cover on it), put it into the bag, and then roll on out the door! The bag is stretchy and definitely has some give to it. You also wash and dry it just like you do the mat cover. Washing/drying is no big deal as this mat bag is very lightweight (all of Kosha’s products are very lightweight and should not do any damage to your washer or dryer).

The mat bag.

The mat bag.

I did not use my mat bag a lot because, at the time, I had a mat cleaning service. I only needed to use it when I brought my mat and cover home to wash and then back to the studio. I found it easy to use and a nice way to get my mat from Point A to Point B. The mat bag takes up zero space as it folds up very easily and will get just about as tiny as you want to it.

The Tote

Oh my gosh, let me tell you about this tote. It’s my absolute most favorite tote bag in the world. Why?

  • It effortlessly holds a full  32 ounce hydro-flask. I love my hydro flask, but I hate dragging it around with me. It’s heavy! Putting it in a bag has never made it any easier – until I got this fabulous tote. I am assuming that because there is bounce and stretch to this tote, it makes carrying a full hydro-flask no big deal. The first day I used the tote I had it filled up with my hydro-flask AND clothes AND shoes and it was not at all a big deal to carry around.
  • It totally won’t get stinky. At all. Ever (well, from what I can figure out).
I've got everything but the sink in that tote!

I’ve got everything but the sink in that tote!

Like the mat cover, I was also on a quest to see if I could make my tote stink. The best way I knew how to do this was to leave stinky yoga clothes in it all day. Now, you might think this is not a realistic thing to do, but it totally is. You see, there were days when I would go to class in the morning and then go straight in to work. My yoga clothes stayed in a bag all day in the car. That is just never pretty folks. Never.

The first stink test came on a day just like I described. I did my class (as normal), and then put my stinky clothes in my yogi bagi as I normally would. I then put the stinky clothes in my Kosha tote. I had my car parked (with the stinky clothes inside) by 11:30. They stayed there until about 4:00.

019The first thing I noticed when I got in my car was that there was no smell. There is ALWAYS a smell when the clothes have been in the car for a few hours. Additionally, I want you to know that I had put my tote in the passenger seat. Normally I put the stinky clothes in the back. No smell.

However, I also park in a garage. So, to truly put the tote – and it’s non-stinky claims – to the test, I redid this test but this time left my stinky clothes (still in the yogi bagi inside the tote) sitting in the front seat of my car parked in my driveway directly in the sun from 11:00-5:00.

That’ll do it, right?

Guess what, no smell at all in the tote.

I kept on using my tote to haul stinky yoga clothes around in, but I refrained from washing it for an entire week. I asked random people to smell the tote (including The Boyfriend) and to explain what they noticed. None of these people knew about my tests or why I would ask them to sniff a tote. No one could say anything except that it “smells like a bag” or “smells like nothing.”

I use this tote for everything. EVERYTHING. I haul stinky yoga clothes around in it, clean clothes, food, my hydro-flask, and basically anything I feel like putting in a bag. I’m not limiting this to just yoga. It’s an item I cannot live without.

Want To Try It?
Interested in trying a Kosha tote or mat bag? You can go here and grab one! Kosha also sells the Ultimate Bikram Yoga Package which gives you all the items I’ve shared with you here.
And remember Kosha is giving you 20% off any and all of their products. Just use mybikramyogalife as your coupon code when you check out!

Finding My Flow

As you all know, my Bikram yoga studio recently closed. And while I could have gone to a different Bikram studio I (surprisingly!) chose not to. I thought I would view my studio closing as an opportunity to try something else. If I didn’t like it, I could always go to the other Bikram studio.

The day after my studio closed, I found myself at a hot flow yoga studio. All I could figure out about the temperature was that it would be at least 98 degrees, and there would be humidity. There would also be music.

Ugh. Music? Really? More on that later.

I showed up to a gorgeous studio with only one minor flaw (besides that whole music thing): no shower. Seriously, this place has no showers. I asked why, and got an answer about how the studio owner didn’t think yoga studios should have locker rooms or that people should have to wait around for showers.

I’ve waited around for a shower. It’s really not a big deal. This no shower thing kinda kinks up the works as it means that there will be days when I cannot practice because there is no shower. Given that the studio is directly centered between my house and my office, there is no zero chance of me grabbing a morning class before going in to work.

But I’ll get over myself. Maybe.

Anyways, first day there I went in and took the class. I was aware of what to generally expect, but I was not prepared for the true butt-kicking that ensued. The studio offers 60 and 90-minute hot flow classes. Since I was new, I thought I would start with the 60-minute. I assumed it wouldn’t be much of a challenge. I was terribly wrong.

The class was a blur of me trying to keep up and doing about one million downward facing dogs. The class was also hot – like really hot. Truthfully, I have been there for three weeks now, and I have zero complaints about the heat and humidity.

By the time I got home from class, 15 minutes later, I was already sore and starving (and it was about 10:30 am). I pondered skipping class the next day, but then I remembered that going to class while sore, at least with Bikram, tended to be a good thing. Yes, the class might suck, but I would feel better afterwards.

Nope.

All the second class (still 60 minutes) did was kick my butt again and add new places where I was sore.

During the first two weeks, I would periodically have to take a day off from being sore/so damn worn out, and that was just from doing mostly 60 minute classes.

On the weekends, I decided to try the 90 minute classes. Let’s just say, I am starting to get better at them but initially they felt like they were 1000 hours long and full of never ending push-ups leading me back into downward dog.

Now, three weeks in, I can say that I am getting the hang of it. I am starting to figure out what I don’t know and need help with. Things are less confusing. I also know that this yoga is killing my calves and my arms. A recent trip for a massage resulted in him spending 25 minutes trying to undo the mess that was in my right calf and learning my arms were filled with lactic acid (“Do you hear that?” he asked me. “Your arms are filled with lactic acid!”). I blame the down dog.

It’s challenging. It’s different. I’m loving it.

But the music. I am not sure I will ever understand why we need music in yoga class. Here are my pet peeves with it:

  • it seems like a distraction. if I want to, I can tune in to the music and checkout from everything else. I think the music helps create a disconnect between the mind and the body.
  • i cannot hear!!!!! or, should I say, all i can hear is music! some instructors are difficult to hear over the music. this is not bikram. there is no dialogue. the class is different every time even if taught by the same instructor. it is important that i be able to hear. some instructors just don’t amplify their voices enough.

So that’s it. My beef with music in yoga class.

And now, for me, the question is what to do with this blog? If I’m not going back to Bikram yoga anytime soon, then I can’t really have a blog called My Bikram Yoga Life. It’s not that I would never take a Bikram class again or go back to the practice at some point. It’s just that this is where my life has lead me and, for now, I am happy with where I have landed.

I’ve had a good six weeks to think about this. Rest assured that I have some thoughts, and I’m starting to move in the direction of making some decisions and feeling good about them. I’ll have some announcements soon.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

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!

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.

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

Own Your Distractions

Last week, I was in Wisconsin at a workshop made up of educators. One of the things that came up was having laptop policies in the classroom. An argument for telling students (particularly college students) that they cannot have laptops/devices going during class is because they cause distractions – particularly for others. The line of thinking goes that as a student, I might be distracted from my learning because the person next to me has something cool opened up on their device and that is what I am paying attention to.

Now, there are a whole host of things we could discuss related to devices in the classroom, but this isn’t the place for it. What stood out to me was someone said, “Take ownership of your distractions.” I immediately thought about yoga.

You shouldn't be looking at all.

You shouldn’t be looking at all.

Recently, I wrote about taking a silent Bikram class but how I was in opposition to having music played during that class. I don’t know that I communicated this well, but music is a way to distract me from my distractions – and I wanted to engage with my distractions. I wanted to work on finding them and working through them and having them not be distractions anymore (or lessen it). In that space, music was a distraction but in a weird way. It allowed me to hide from the other distractions so I didn’t want it.

On a daily basis, we might experience any number of distractions in our practice such as:

  • someone entering/leaving the room
  • someone drinking water during a posture
  • our own mind telling us all kinds of junk
  • the need to scratch an itch!

I could make this list go on forever. I don’t know what to do beyond acknowledging and owning a distraction. I think that’s the first step. For me, I have a huge problem during the entire warm-up series. I don’t know why, but I think I come up with ways to create distractions for myself. I always feel insanely itchy and justify the need to scratch something somewhere on me! I’ve recognized this months ago, but I don’t seem to have moved on past it.

But here’s what I do know, if I am distracted it is not someone else’s fault. What distracts me may not distract you. It is important to recognize what distracts us and to own it as in I find X to be distracting. Simply acknowledging the distraction might be all we can do for now, but I am confident that one day we will push pass the distraction and it will no longer serve as such (and probably five new ones will pop up).

This is a larger part of what our practice is for, right? It’s about learning how to be present with ourselves and to not be pulled out of the moment by distractions.

So do it. Own your distractions.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

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