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!

It’s Just Class. You Should Probably Go.

Lately, it seems like I have become very accepting of my classes. Just the other day, I decided to do a double. I hadn’t done a double in months. So I went to class #1 and had class. Then I went to class #2 and had class. Each was it’s own thing although afterwards I was starving and very tired.

The next day, I went in to take class at 9:00 am. I was still tired and feeling a bit sore. I set myself up in my retreat spot – a corner in the back near a door. For whatever reason, I always feel a sense of solitude back there. It doesn’t matter how many people surround me, I just feel like that is my own tiny bubble of a space. I eased in and out of postures. I might have sat one or two out. I came out of postures early because my body wanted to (I think…that mind of mine can be very tricky!). By the end of class I was still sleep but a lot less sore.

I bounced in the next day also for the 9:00 class feeling pretty groovy. I got myself all set up and started to have a great class. I was feeling amazing. My postures were pretty good. And then….it all went downhill.

I made it to tree pose before I decided to sit out. Then, halfway through spine strengthening I was done. I had gone down fast. I rolled over on my back for the last two spine strengthening postures. Didn’t even try to do them, and laying on my stomach felt far too strenuous. I was basically done at that point.

I crawled out of the room when it was all over and propped myself up against a wall. Hadn’t had a class like that in awhile. Didn’t think anything of it except to acknowledge that I hadn’t had a class like that in awhile.

Again, the next day I found myself at the 9:00 class. This time, class was pretty good. I started to die out around camel and kinda sputtered through to the end.

However, it was after all of these classes had happened that I realized something. I was showing up and taking class. When I was feeling great, I was able to recognize that I was feeling great. When I was feeling bad, I was able to recognize that I was feeling bad. And when class was over, class was over. The only thing I thought about in subsequent classes was how my body felt in relation to whatever posture I was in.

Showing up and taking class has been a difficult thing for me to do. I want to imagine what class will be like based on how I feel at the moment or how my most recent classes have gone. I’m sure it’s never 100% like this, but I cannot recall when I have just gone to class and accepted class for what it was so many times in a row.

I know I say (and you hear) all the time that we should just be going to class. And showing up is important, but there’s also something to be said for going to class and accepting what class brings you that day without judgement or comparison.  And I think the way to get to that is….by going to class.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

Two Years Ago Today on MBYL

One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

Trying a Different Class

Recently, my Yoga Buddy, Swamp Girl, decided to try out a different yoga studio. This was still hot yoga, but not Bikram. Actually, the place offers both hot and room temperature yoga, but Swamp Girl only takes the hot yoga classes.

swampfireSwamp Girl’s departure was due to the fact that she wanted to try something new, but she also didn’t want to give up the heat. She really likes it hot! She bought herself some Bikram classes, and once in awhile she still attends, but her primary home is at this other studio now.

This other place offers a variety of classes. When I looked at the schedule it was pretty overwhelming to me. If you take a class on Monday at 10:00 for example, you may not be able to take that same type of class until the next Monday rolls around. Some classes are offered more than once during the week, but to me it looked tricky to try to attend the same type of class more than once. But she was liking it.

I promised Swamp Girl that I would try out a class with her when my schedule allowed for it, and the other day it did. First, I had to take a morning Bikram class (because of my 100-Day challenge). Then I joined Swamp Girl that evening for a Hot Detox Vinyasa class. I had picked this over a class the next evening called Gentle Hot, but Swamp Girl told me Gentle Hot was actually the more difficult of the two classes. Anyways, I got down there, got myself signed up and set up, and was all ready to check it out.

Taking the Class

Before class started, I asked Swamp Girl what the rules were. When could I drink my water? She said there were no rules. If I wanted to drink my water, I should just drink my water. Whenever, Wherever. Ok. Got it.

The teacher entered the room and greeted everyone. Like a well trained Bikram-Yogi, I popped off my mat into standing position. Everyone else remained seated. I waited a moment and took this in and then sat my butt back down. In this class, we started with a seated breathing exercise and then moved into the postures.

The postures of course were varied. Some were new to me and some I hadn’t done in years. There was a lot of down-dog. I remember doing some planks and pigeon and really a variety of stuff I can’t even remember. We worked our core a lot. At some point I realized I would be sore the next day.

What I Learned

Taking a different yoga class was a great experience. It was just plain fun. But I also realized that having practiced mindfulnessyoga for four years now had left me with some interesting skills. I don’t think these skills are exclusive to Bikram yoga but are ones that can be developed through any mindful yoga practice:

  • I’m OK with discomfort. There were plenty of times during the class where I was confused and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I was ok with that. I was patient with myself in figuring things out. There were moments when I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and again, I was ok with that.

 

  • I’m good with working within my limits. I had zero idea what we would be doing in that class, and sometimes I had zero idea what I was capable of doing with a given posture. I’m ok playing around within what I can do. I am pretty good at exploring where I should go with a posture – pushing on it just enough to get a sense of what I can do and where I should stop.

Since this wasn’t a Bikram class, I also discovered some other things about myself:

  • I completely forgot about water. There was simply no emphasis on it. There was no party-time. No one even said a word about it. At one point the instructor said we should pause for a sip of water and I realized I hadn’t been thinking about water at all! I took my sip and then forgot about it until class was over.

 

  • I lost track of time. The class was 60-minutes (which seemed very short to me). However, there was no clock in the room and no agenda for the class. Bikram has an agenda. We do the same postures. You come a few times and you got it memorized. There wasn’t anything to memorize here. The class is different every single time. I didn’t have anything to think about except whatever posture I was doing at the moment. I couldn’t think about an upcoming posture because I didn’t know what was coming next! It was very freeing. I was more in the moment.

Will I go again? Maybe. It was good for me. We did a lot of hip openers which I need. But I would probably benefit just as much if I started going to advance again once a week. Going to advanced helped me too. I definitely won’t be going back while I’m on my 100-Day challenge. That’s just to much.

I am curious about how I can apply the mindfulness I experienced in my Bikram classes. The problem, I realized, is that I get too caught up with whatever posture is coming down the line and I often have opinions about postures when we get to them that run through my head. I need to work on quieting my mind more during class and accepting what the posture brings. And that realization along was worth it.

Three Years Ago on MBYL

Two Years Ago on MBYL

One Year Ago on MBYL

Featured Campaign: UpRising Yoga

In my quest to find inspiring individuals and organizations connected to yoga, I came across UpRising Yoga. This group of amazing people bring yoga to to youth who might not otherwise receive it – and make an amazing difference in their lives. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, let me share with you how they described their purpose in their own words:

uprisingyogaUpRising Yoga’s mission is to unite resilient kids with resourceful communities. We teach yoga in juvenile halls, detention facilities, probation camps, group homes as well as community centers and schools. The specific populations served are incarcerated youth, children with a history of foster care and/or commercial sexual exploitation (CSEC), and communities that need it most. We also hold trauma sensitive yoga trainings for all – and teach yoga in areas that do not offer yoga, establishing community.

My Personal Connection

I am a former foster parent. I am also a former middle school teacher (Houston, Texas!), and I spent six weeks this summer working with students in a program intended to foster academic support for first generation college students. I tell you my history because it is the reason UpRising Yoga resonated with me. UpRising Yoga goes into places that most people do not and would not. In my experience, the children who occupy these spaces have been labeled and already written off by most of society in ways that are unfair and totally inaccurate. In my own experiences with youth who have been labeled as “troubled” (read – unmotivated and no good), I have found some of the kindest, most compassionate individuals who are trying to figure out how to resolve their issues and live their dreams.

The youth UpRising Yoga works with have histories that will break your heart and make you cry. They are unimaginable and horrible and things I could not handle as an adult – yet they have these experiences as young children. Now, I don’t know any of the youth in the program personally. I do not know their stories. But I know enough stories of youth like them that I feel confident in telling you that you would never want to experience what they have lived. If you have not worked with youth in these scenarios, or if you have not lived it yourself, you simply cannot imagine what they have gone through and the trauma they have to contend with. Whatever you have dreamed up in your head isn’t even close. Trust me.

Background on UpRising Yoga

Jill Ippolito is the Founder and Executive Director of UpRising Yoga, and has been practicing and teaching yoga for over twelve years.  She is dedicated to bringing yoga to incarcerated youth and the communities they come from. Since 2011, UpRising Yoga has taught in juvenile detention facilities, group homes, schools and community centers.  Her work includes Trauma Sensitive Trainings for all, not just yoga teachers.  Jill believes that practicing yoga is something that can be done anywhere at any time. Her overall mission is to ensure that yoga is seen as a healing modality and an effective tool to rehabilitate incarcerated youth in this nation. UpRising’s key principle can be summed up in the mantra that is shared in every class: “Yoga is a gift; no one can take it away from you.”

Jill was formerly in the juvenile hall where UpRising Yoga teaches when she was 17. She has fallen off three buildings, broken her back, had an arm rebuilt, and was in physical therapy for a year before staring a  yoga practice in 2001. She graduated from Bikram Yoga in 2006.

About UpRising Yoga

UpRising Yoga currently provides up to seven classes each week: in three separate units in Central Juvenile Hall, at a boys detention center called Camp Gonzales, and at a girls group home.  They also offer ongoing yoga classes to communities in Wilmington and Hawthorne (California).  On average, up to 65 people – youth and adults alike – participate in their classes each week.
They offer many styles of yoga guided by an UpRising Yoga Curriculum to safely introduce Yoga Life Skills with Mindfulness and Meditation in order to offer a sense of well being as a gift and tool for healing.
UpRising Yoga’s Founder, Jill Ippolito conducts trauma-sensitive yoga trainings for service professionals and yoga teachers, explaining how to safely introduce yoga and mindfulness to incarcerated youth and to those in our communities facing real-life struggles.
They are also working with UCLA to develop a study that proves scientifically that regular yoga practice can be as effective as therapy and medication for mental and physical health.
Get Involved
Do you want to support UpRising Yoga? There are a couple of ways you can do it:
1. Donate money.
2. Buy a t-shirt.
3. Volunteer your time if you are in the area.
If You Are in California….Save the Date!
Upcoming Events:
Saturday, August 9th– Rajashree is teaching a Fundraiser yoga class at Bikram Yoga Huntington Beach!
Save The Date:
Thursday, November 13th we will be hosting a fundraiser honoring our supporters and celebrating community at SBCC in Wilmington. 
Stay Connected!

 

New Obsession: Aurorae Yoga Mat

*sponsored post*

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Eileen at Aurorae asking if I would be interested in trying out one of their yoga mats. I am always down with trying out a yoga mat. I scanned the catalog and and landed on the Synergy mat. This was an easy decision since it’s the one that’s intended to use in a hot yoga class.

I was very excited when my mat arrived.  The best way I can think of to describe it is this: imagine your regular rubber mat with a non-slip microfiber towel completely attached to the top. It looked like the perfect marriage.

Front side of the mat

Front side of the mat

 

As you all know, I gave up my Breathe mat because it was beating the crap out of my washer and dryer. In it’s place, I had returned to using a rubber mat with a towel on top. Now, I had managed to find a great rubber mat to use, but I still had to put a towel on top of it. I quickly became not a fan of the towel/mat combo. Even if my rubber mat stayed in place, I was always having problems with the towel.

The Synergy mat solves this issue. The mat stays in place and, because the towel is literally a part of the mat, the towel also stays in place. I was told that some people like to place their Synergy mats on top of a regular rubber mat, and some people use just the Synergy mat by itself. I first practiced with the Synergy mat by itself and loved it. I saw no need for putting it on top of a rubber mat for a standard Bikram class.

However, if you want to enhance the thickness, I could see how it would be useful to place a rubber mat underneath it. Adding an additional rubber mat underneath could also serve you well in the Advanced series where extra thickness might make some postures more comfortable. I have not been going to Advanced lately, so I can’t say, but I would definitely give it a whirl if I was. I think my knees would appreciate it.

Back of the mat

Back of the mat

You can wash the Synergy mat, but it must lay flat to dry. The thing to know about washing the mat is that it is not recommended you wash it everyday. I spoke to Eileen about how to take care of the mat, and the durability of the mat, and this is what she said:

We do not wash the mat after every use. What we recommend is spraying with mat wash and hang dry after every use. Then wash only as needed. There have been only maybe 2 or 3 cases where the mat separates from the towel. It could just be that the binding dried out and we will always replace a mat that is damaged as such.

This is the mat wash Aurora sells, but you don’t have to use their wash to clean the mat. Honestly, I was washing mine after every use until I talked to Eileen further about it. Because it has to hang dry – and I just toss my mat over the shower rod in the guest bathroom – I probably use it three days a week. But it doesn’t take that long to dry. If I washed it at 7:00 pm it would be good to go for the 4;30 pm class the next day.

In discussing the amount of sweat a Bikram class produces in relation to washing the mat, Eileen explained to me:

I understand that Bikram creates an intense amount of sweat – and it is difficult to roll up your mat once it’s soaked up with sweat. By spraying it, it will at least detensify the odor of our sweat as well as disinfect it from any bacteria we carry in our hands and feet (and body). But, it is of course recommended to hang dry as quickly as possible when home in order to let it dry. I typically wash the mat after every 5 uses. There is a feeling of weighing down (very slight) and it’s just a general cleanliness feeling that I yearn for after a week or so… it is really personal preference, use of sense and time/convenience…I’m sorry that this seems vague, but like I said, we have had customers all give us different solutions to their cleaning habits. 

So what I take away from this discussion about mat care is this:

  • it’s not recommended to wash the mat after every use
  • you have to be the judge of when you wish to wash your mat
  • drying it out immediately after class and using a mat spray on it is important

I gave it a whirl and found that in general these above procedures can be followed with success. Sometimes I have a class where I seem to be pouring sweat on my mat – in a way that disgusts even me (my tolerance on what makes a gross amount of sweat is pretty high). When one of those classes happens, I just wash the mat. But those classes are few and far between. For my typical everyday Bikram experience, I am finding that the mat can be hung up to dry and sprayed with a mat spray (I already had some at home so I used what I had). But for me, I want to wash it after about every three uses.

Overall, I am loving my new Synergy mat and super delighted to have been given the chance to review it. The one thing to be aware of is that you will need to bring a small towel for rabbit. With a towel/may combo, you can flip the towel up over your feet. This mat doesn’t work that way, and it doesn’t have a flap like the Breathe mats do. Honestly, I usually use whatever shirt I wore into the room. Overall, it’s an incredibly comfortable mat that’s worth trying out.

So….who wants one? Aurorae is giving away one Synergy mat. You must reside in the U.S. to win it (sorry readers outside the U.S.). Winner will be announced on Thursday!

NOTE: There appears to be some issue going on with the giveaway form. I will need to restart this giveaway again, and I will do so on Thursday. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it’s necessary so everyone has a fair shot that wants one.
//widget.rafflecopter.com/load.js

 

 

 

Yoga Competition Time!

I was super excited to come across an article recently in the Huffington Post talking about yoga competitions. You might know that Nationals is just around the corner (March 14th-16th). This article touched a bit on Nationals, and the upcoming World Yoga Sports Championship (see FB page too).

What was exciting for me was reading the interviews with Joseph Encinia, Gianna Purcell, and Alankane D’Quebec. And while all three interviews are truly inspiring, I suggest reading Alankane’s if you read only one. He’s 13 years old and from California. It’s really amazing and beautiful to hear a young man be so articulate and thoughtful about his yoga practice.

who inspires you

In reading Alankane’s interview, I was struck by how much we can inspire others just by doing what we do every day. It’s not a matter of trying to inspire. It’s not a matter of trying to figure out how to get people to do something different with their lives. It’s about living our lives wholly, openly, and honestly. And in doing so, we have the power to move and shape the lives of other positively.

Who has inspired you? What were you moved to do differently?

Starting the Whole30

I’ve been traveling again this week for work, and in the back of my mind I remember that I once said I’d start this Whole30 challenge thing in March. It’s a little overwhelming. I haven’t had a lot of time to think about what I’m going to eat during it (but plenty of time to wrap my head around what I cannot eat which is just about everything I currently do eat). Getting stranded in Vegas seriously sank me. I had a ton of work to catch up on when I got back home.

March 1st is a Saturday. Hopefully I will have had time to go to the store and plan out my meals for the week. If not, worst case scenario, I can start on March 2nd. I’ll still go for 31 days.

See? Doesn't this look like my only option is water and sand?

See? Doesn’t this look like my only option is water and sand?

I’d like to do some of my breakfasts with juice. I know Whole30 isn’t a big juicing supporter, but I am and that’s not going to change. I’d like to use the weekend to get some juices made and frozen for the next two weeks. I may be eating a lot of salads the first week, but that’s ok!

I’ve also decided it’s ok to buy meat to have for one meal a day. This isn’t my personal ideal thing, but my thought is to start with the meat for some meals and then slowly back it out as I get a handle on things. It was too overwhelming to think about not eating meat and then taking out all legumes and grains. I felt like I had nothing left to eat! And I still feel that way even with the meat thrown back in. I haven’t cooked meat in about two years. It’s strange to think about doing it again.

I’m prepared for a rough ride even though I already don’t consume some of the forbidden foods (dairy for one). And I’ll be ok without soda. But sugar? Oh gees. It’s gonna be a rough ride. So batten down the hatches. Here goes nothing

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