I’ll admit it – I have really been slacking on my workouts lately. My running log has more blank pages than I care to mention and I can’t remember the last time I saluted the sun. With the new year, though, comes a fresh start and a chance to get back on-track. Step one of my recommitment to fitness took place this morning when I signed on the dotted line, smiled for my ID photo and joined a wellness-center. After perusing their catalogue of classes and workshops, I realized just how much I miss taking Yoga and the balance that it brought to my body and mind.
If you have ever taken a Yoga class, you are most likely familiar with the salutation “Namaste”. A composite of two Sanskrit words (Nama = “bend/bow” and Te = “you”), it is commonly spoken at the end of class as a gesture of respect and honor. With the two hands pressed together and held near the heart, teacher and student gently bow to one another and say “Namaste”. When I came across this gorgeous hand-knit shrug (pictured above), I knew by it’s name, Namaste, that there was a Yoga-fanatic responsible for its creation. Manuela of Lunamuse Fibers is not only a talented fiber-artist, but also a passionate Yoga instructor and regular blogger on yogajournal.com. Check out the Lunamuse Fibers shop to see more of Manuela’s gorgeous hand-spun yarns and knits and be sure to visit her Yoga website to learn more about her teaching of the ancient practice.
Thinking back on the classes that I have taken in the past, made me reflect on the ways that practicing Yoga helped me work through some challenging times. One symbol of overcoming struggles in life and achieving enlightenment is the Lotus flower. Starting out in the mud at the bottom of a pond, the lotus grows up through murky water, optimistically reaching toward the light. When it reaches the surface of the pond, it blooms into a beautiful flower. These Samsara Lotus Flower earrings (above) handmade by Lauren of Lala Design Studio perfectly capture the essence of that symbolism with darkened, twisted stems leading to a polished, shining blossom.
The beauty of Yoga is that it one really requires little in terms of equipment to practice it. While all the fancy accessories are nice, all I require (besides something comfy to wear) is an extra-long “sticky” mat and a good bag to carry it in. I love this eco-friendly, upcycled Yoga mat bag (above) made from old sails. Anyone who has ever struggled to get their mat back into a traditional bag will appreciate the unique, easy to use design by the talented mother/daughter team behind RAGGEDedgeGear. And, as someone who practically grew up on a sailboat, I can vouch for the durability of the materials used to create the bags. If sailcloth can withstand the punishment of the seas, it can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. I have no doubt that your one of a kind Ragged Edge bag will see you through years of downward dogs and mountain poses.
I’ve always said that I do my best thinking when I run, but it’s during Yoga that I do my best “un-thinking“. Taking an hour or so to focus on my balance and breathing gives me a chance to disconnect from the demands of the world and re-connect with my own needs. It might sound a little selfish to the uninitiated, but it has been my experience that the more I nurture my own body and mind, the better equipped I am to nurture others. I always find that my most satisfying classes are those that challenge me both physically and mentally and then conclude with a long, well-deserved Savasana, or “corpse pose”. It is during this time of total stillness that the mind is allowed to enter a higher state of awareness and is said by some to be better than sleep. Sometimes, though, even in Savasana it is hard to calm a racing mind. During those times, the remedy can be as simple as applying a soothing eye-pillow filled with organic lavender and kamut, such as the ones pictured above from Vancouver’s Stitchella. Ahhhhh….serenity now.