Photography by Brian McDonnell
Every active woman, especially yoginis, regardless of her breast size should have a sports bra as part of her fitness wardrobe. Exercising in the wrong bra can lead to more than discomfort. A number of issues, including tension in the arms and shoulders and restricted breathing (especially when you're expanding your Ujjayi) can occur if the band is too tight.
Finding the right sports bra for you can be a daunting task when there are hundreds of styles from which to choose from, I've been there, and tried most of them. Finally I have found the one and it sure is a Handful.
As an active power yoga practitioner and teacher, I have been looking for a bra that will not only create function while I take a Vinyasa but also a bra that will hold and purposefully separate the girls. This lovely bra is not only perfect for every breast size, it's also a bra designed for women who've had breast cancer. It's soft, comfy and lightweight. Not only do these specially designed bras offer better support and more comfort than a regular bra, they also help minimize movement during yoga or any other activity.
The handful team truly believes that the removable pads have you covered from warm-up to cool-down so you've got one... make that two - less things to worry about. It flatters without flattening and can be used as a feminine layering piece. The handful bra supports you when you want to look, feel, and perform your best. What more could you possibly want?
Here is a fantastic video of the women behind the Handful team. Video directed and produced by my friend Jason Tamimi.
It's no surprise that regular yoga practice increases your health and your self confidence. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, but you have to be careful and flow smart. You wouldn’t play football without shoes to protect your feet, so don’t flow without a proper sports bra to protect your breasts.
When wearing the Handful bra, you will definitely experience significantly less bounce than you would experience wearing a regular bra. If you do not see a reduction in the bounce of your current bra, it simply means you're a handful. From style, to comfort to ease, I highly recommend this bra to every yoga practitioner no matter what size and shape you come in.
You're active. You're versatile. You're one of a kind. You're a handful...
pioneering approach to skincare marks an exciting evolutionary high point in natural beauty.
Each of the body polishes, shampoos and perfumes listed below contains natural ingredients – carefully blended plants, flower absolutes and the finest essential oils. In addition, in selected products LUSH has incorporated fresh, organic, nutritious fruits and vegetables in their whole form to harness the antioxidant, protective benefits of the vitamins, minerals, proteins and enzymes.
LUSH believes in making effective products out of fresh organic fruit & vegetables, the finest essential oils, safe synthetics, without animal ingredients and in writing the quantitative list on the outside. They buy from companies that test for safety without the involvement of animals and in testing products on humans. They make their own fresh products by hand, printing their own labels and making their own fragrances.
Here are my top 3 products...
Turkish Delight Body Polish
Over 20,000 rose petals goes into each pot of Turkish Delight, a luxurious soap which can be used in the bath, the shower or even in a sauna, as a soothing, escapist treat for tired and irritated skin. Almond oil and cocoa butter provide the moisture, whilst the rose and jasmine reduces redness and leaves you with a fresh and wholesome scent.
Lush buy their rose oil to make this and other products from Sabat, a company based in Senir, Turkey, who employ many local people and Romany Gypsies in harvesting the roses. Sabat have opened a free primary school in the area for local and Gypsy children – the first of its kind in Turkey. Lush support this work by paying an extra twenty five euros per kilo of rose oil.
Applying the soap to dry skin was strange at first, but as soon as the fragrance hits you, it is very relaxing and feels extremely indulgent. Once the soap starts to dissolve in hot water, the scent floats around the room, and clings to your skin even when you are out of the bath and drying off. I'd recommend using Turkish Delight body polish followed by a long soak in the bath with a good book (taking care not to get the pages wet), slipping between clean organic cotton sheets and drifting off to a rose-scented dreamland of lazy summer afternoons.
Karma Solid Shampoo Bar
This shampoo bar is vegan and relatively simple ingredient-wise compared to other products on the market. It gets sudsy quickly and always treats my hair nicely. My LUSH shampoo bar lasts me about 4-5 months which is pretty impressive for a 1.9 ounce compact product.
They are great for traveling and reducing your waste. Shampoo bottles can take up a ton of space, but these bars are easy to hide. The smell of this product is fantastic, you get a ton of lather with little to no effort. It also repairs damaged hair especially since I dye my hair jet black frequently and creates super shine (almost cartoon shiny, like superman). There's no packaging so it's also great for the environment.
Imogen Rose Perfume
Imogen Rose is a rose perfume. It contains rose oil and rose absolute, along with a powdery accord and vetiver. The roses, just like the Turkish Delight is picked from Senir, Turkey. This perfume is the epitome of romance for me. GOOD rose perfumes are harder to find. With all that rose oil and rose absolute, Imogen Rose is indeed a GOOD rose perfume.
The perfume has a fresh opening, probably courtesy of the bergamot, but also has the rose. It dries down to a sweet (but not too sweet) ambery fragrance on me, but the roses are still there.
As yogis, I truly believe that we should pay a lot of attention to what we put on our body because whatever we put on our skin, soaks in. Although sadly, miracle ingredients for our skin just don't exist, choosing organic products, we can be sure of the fact that the ingredients we put on our skin are active, wholesome and pure.
Choosing organic products for our skin is a great way to say “no” to the torture of animals during lab testing, a terrible process still widely used in the creation of commercially produced products and a great way to say "yes" to living a lush life.
Statue Of Liberty - NYC
I'm still in New York and still touring yoga studious in the city before getting caught up with the NYFW hype.
As I sat at Vira Yoga
on Saturday morning, waiting for Elena Brower to begin class in a room packed with over 80 die hard yogis, my mind began to wonder. I looked around to all these people I had never seen before in my entire life. They all had reasons to be here, whether to create space, awareness, to become flexible in their minds or to practice one of the hardest things on earth... forgiveness.
Elena started the class by referring to the John Friend scandal. Of course I was aware of this and the flocks of teachers that were dumping their certification left and right, but I had no idea what Anusara was or really meant it meant. However, I did know what MY practice meant. Vinyasa; where the breath is everything.
Vinyasa teaches "right" living in how we deal with ourselves and others. As I work on difficult poses, I learn patience, forgiveness, and the value of gentleness. As I flow on my mat, I feel free, and part of being free means learning how to forgive. One of the biggest misconceptions about forgiveness is that by forgiving someone we somehow make right what they did. We believe that if we forgive, then we condone their actions. I strongly believe that nothing could be further from the truth.
Forgiveness is often a difficult action to achieve. However, it is one of the most powerful sources of freedom. The choice to not forgive holds you in a self contained prison. This workbook does not suggest that you approach the person you need to forgive. Forgiveness is not for the source of anger or sadness; forgiveness is for the one who suffers from the action...YOU.
As Elena lead the class by creating space with heart and hip openers, she strongly urged to collectively make space in our bodies for everything we regret, everyone who were confusing for us right now, and know that whatever we see in others is just a reflection of ourselves.
Forgiveness is a journey. Once you truly forgive a source of pain, you have freed yourself from the pain. Forgiveness does not mean you need to re-connect with this person. It is simply a way to release a source that is holding you back in many facets. Dwelling on the reason not to forgive will simply strengthen the binds that are in your mind and heart. Wonder about the person who hurt you. They also have a past, they have also likely experienced rejection and hurt and betrayal. To be able to turn away from YOUR hurt even for a moment, and consider the other person’s situation, is not saying that their behaviour or what they did to you is justified - it is never justified! What it is saying is that they are imperfect human beings who have more growing to do.
Whether you forgive your teacher by walking away, forgive your loved one by speaking up or forgive yourself by being kind to your actions, remember that once you forgive, you may actually feel gratitude for the opportunity to grow stronger spiritually within. Who knows, this might even ignite you to pursue a goal to help others with a similar issue.
As Mastin Kipp, the creator of one of my go to blogs The Daily Love
says: "Forgiveness is actually a very selfish thing. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you condone the wrongs; forgiving someone means you are no longer willing to let pain from the past hold YOU down from living your dreams."
I've been in NYC since Friday for NYFW and I've been immersing myself in three of my obsessions: fashion, yoga and food.
My hotel is nestled on the corner of West 63rd Street between two legendary New York City landmarks - Lincoln Center and Central Park. This boutique NYC hotel with its tiny but luxurious accommodations overlooks the Broadway / Columbus Avenue gateway to the Upper West Side. I find myself grabbing coffee with the fashion bloggers, bumping into editors and the occasional fashion designers. The city is filled with high energy and most of all filled with very intriguing personalities that have a huge passion for fashion from all over the world.
Some may say that my huge love for fashion is something of an oxymoron. I mean it may come across sort of silly to be concerned about outer appearance while working on inner change. A lot of yogis I know question fashion's place in the yoga world especially when yoga is concerned with creating detachment from the material world, which of course seems counter to
my obsession with style. Being in the fashion industry for a decade, it feels very authentic for me.
Just like everyone else, my path is different. I have found a way to merge fashion and yoga together to create the perfect outlet for me. Fashion feeds my mouth, yoga feeds my soul. And just like my yoga, my style is an expression of my creativity and the celebration of my life. I strongly believe that clothing is a vehicle to self-expression.
The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it - Alexander McQueen
How often do you stop to acknowledge your successes? Compare that to the spotlight you shine on your failures and shortcomings. Is there a disparity worth noting?
We set ourselves up for repeated anguish by expecting perfection from ourselves and from everyone and everything around us. Perfection is a myth. Nothing is perfect, and so we invariably feel like failures or are regularly disappointed by others. When we are able to be compassionate with ourselves, we can begin to see truth more clearly. We embrace our learning curve. We see our shortcomings for what they are: teachers, reminders for us to stay on our spiritual path, reminders that we should not take our achievements for granted.
There are important distinctions between self-compassion and self-esteem. The benefits of both self-compassion and self-esteem are the same. But the negative aspects of too much self-esteem, such as narcissism, are not seen in those with a high degree of self-compassion. Self-esteem is a view of yourself in relation to the external world, how you compare to others. It requires that you ignore your own faults and pain or that you consider others as somehow inferior. Having overblown self-esteem is not a truthful way of living and so not surprisingly, it results in impaired coping skills, emotional fragility, defensiveness, anxiety and narcissism.
On the other hand, being hard on yourself is also an ineffective strategy for living a happy and successful life. Self-punishment and self-criticism will likely lead to hostility, directed towards others as well as yourself, anxiety, depression, lower energy level and self-sabotaging behavior such as procrastination.
Self-compassion does not equate to self-indulgence. Those who are self-compassionate are better able to recognize their own faults, take more responsibility for their actions, are less afraid to fail or face difficulties, show more diligence and perseverance. Self-compassion helps to assure that goals are in line with self-interests. It reduces striving for that which is destructive and can prevent addictive behavior. It helps to motivate behavior that is healthy.
We can cultivate self-compassion in yoga by learning and practicing the Yamas and Niyamas. We can improve our mindfulness by practicing meditation. We can practice being kind to ourselves when we struggle with that difficult balance pose, get a glimpse of our imperfect bodies during class or even when we don’t quite have the time and energy to make it onto our mats, which has been the case for me. A very long ten days since I've stepped on it.
I usually don't let my personal practice suffer, but sometimes it does and that's when the evil chitta vrritti kicks in. The self doubt, the embarrassment, the fear and the constant pressure from myself to always be on top of my shit. My focus for myself and in my teachings this year is all themed around self-compassion. I have made a commitment to myself to “go with the flow” - which means that I try to practice whenever I can, especially while I travel, but if it doesn’t happen, I practice loving kindness. I commit to not beating myself up, to not obsessing, and to enjoy whatever that day has to bring. I commit to breathing deeply and letting go of the need to control.
By cultivating a practice of self-compassion we offer ourselves and others overall well-being, presence, mindfulness, inter-connection with all beings and the power to transform states of mind that are not in alignment with our purpose in any particular moment.
If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete - Jack Kornfield.
Photography by Brian McDonnell
As the temperatures slowly begin to rise here in Portlandia, the outdoor activities begin. A day in the park, a stroll by the bridge, a light day hike, fishing at the lake, kayaking down the river, and enjoying an outdoor music festival - These are just some of the fun activities we love to experience during those rising temperature days. Start them off right with the perfect pair of sandals that match your outfit or activity! It’s time to give your toes a taste of the fresh air!
Love the outdoors? How about a sandal that can go from the city to the trails, from the farmers’ market to the rushing river or from the yoga studio to patio lunching with the girls?
You can with Juil,
pronounced (joo-uh-I). A company who's mantra is simple - life is energy, energy is life.
As a stylist in six inch heels during the day and a barefoot yoga teacher during the evening, these sandals have brought me immense ease as I transition from one to the other. It's the perfect balance of comfort, quality, style and function. The sandals are intentionally made to restore the balance of energies. Their exclusive Energy Flow Technology™ channels the natural, rejuvenating energies inherent in the earth's surface.
I was blown away by their attention to detail. From the gorgeous shoebox, to the silk yoga mat bag (that wraps the sandal), to the pull tab, everything had a purpose. As the Black Brio
appeared neatly tucked under, I put them on straight away with huge excitement. As a connoisseur of visual styling, I felt a kinship with their aesthetic.
In my yoga classes, I never fail to talk about creating a solid base, a strong foundation. How often do you go for a pedicure, foot scrub or a foot message? But you always remember to brush your teeth, wash your face and take a shower - foot love should be the same.
Our feet are the foundation of our body, which means keeping our feet healthy helps keep us healthy. Juil's sole conductors are all about this, which incorporates the copper insets for each toe and heel. As mentioned on their website, the conductors “discharge and absorb the earth’s natural energies with every step you take, connecting you to the earth in a way that traditional footwear doesn’t.”
As a yoga practitioner and as a human walking this earth, I strongly believe that it is essential to begin by building your feet as your solid roots to build upward from. If your feet are your power point connecting to earth, they will move energy up correctly through your ankles, knees, hips and spine. Thus preventing unnecessary injuries and allowing you to practice and master more advanced asanas successfully. And this is what Juil's mission statement promises: to enhance your well-being.
After all, we all want to protect ourselves and mother nature while enjoying every step we take. Ensure the stability of your foundation, get grounded and do your feet a favor, get your hands on a pair of Juil
This weeks yoga story is about Samantha Dublin. Originally from the Philippines, now living in Washington, DC.
I live and breathe yoga and yet for some reason writing about my yoga journey has completely stumped me. How do you convey how significantly something has changed your life? That now moving forward without yoga would be like losing one of my five senses? That yoga has given my life new meaning but a meaning I am incapable of wrapping into a neat little ball to share with you?
Eight years ago my sister wanted to try a yoga class at a local New Jersey gym and asked me to go with her. I was skeptical but had no excuse not to go so there I was with zero expectations. At the time, yoga to me was this thing that Sting did which helped him look smokin’ hot and improved his sex life. How bad could it be? ;)
Had I known how significant that moment was I might have been more nervous. At the very least I would have worn something nicer. It was the beginning of what I hope to be a never-ending journey. Yoga was my saving grace at a time when a lot of things in my life were going wrong – from a dead-end career to a recently-ended relationship. I was lost and depressed. I was grasping for something more and yoga turned out to be the answer I wasn’t looking for.
Yoga became my fuel when my energy was low. It was my refuge when life is being especially rough. It was my home when I was feeling lost. It was my moment of calm amidst the chaos. But more than that it became the solid foundation in which I could dream bigger, work harder and jump into new challenges.
A few years later in Maryland, a yoga teacher talked me into getting certified to teach and it catapulted me into the next phase of my journey. This time I could share my passion for yoga with other souls and I was terrified. “What if I suck at this?” kept running through my mind. But yoga has a transforming power if you let it and nervous though I was I made it through and have been teaching ever since. Though my style has changed over the years, it is still very much my own.
As a teacher I try to convey this love to my students in the same way that my first yoga teacher did. Reminding them that yoga is more than just a workout. It’s a lifestyle. Introducing someone to yoga and turning him from a first-timer to a regular yogi does not get old. Though some days I feel like I am successful and other days not so much.
Some days I am overwhelmed juggling my day job, my teaching schedule, my hobbies, my family and my friends. As a result, my personal practice has suffered. (Translation: Non-existent).
So years later I am once again at a point where I have to find balance and re-center. To learn that on my journey giving love is as important as keeping love for myself. To learn that though the straight line is the easiest way it does not always allow you to see all the great things that life has to offer. I want to fall in love with yoga again.
I have started writing about yoga and my attempt at living a healthier (more whole) life. With the hope that I can take a closer look, share my experiences with others so that they, too, can learn with me. So the journey continues with the following goals:
Never stop growing. Never fear change. Always have faith that the best is yet to come.
To find out more about Sam, visit her blog YOGITASTIC,
like her on FaceBook
or follow her on Twitter.
I'm not a juicer, I never have been, but lately I've been really craving vegetables... like all the time. So yesterday, while I was trying this new recipe, I came to a conclusion that juicing is just like yoga.
The beginning is always the hardest. Finding time to plan for your veggies, going to the supermarket, coming home to wash them, prepare them, clean the juicer, and then do it all over again. Exhausting right?
But of course it doesn't have to be that way. Start where you are, that's all you can do. If you are new to juicing, get a mid-priced juicer, don't spend a fortune. Begin juicing the vegetables you already eat and then incorporate the more fancy stuff as you experiment along. Begin slowly by adding juicing once a week to your eating habits and then start gradually making it more consistent. Listen to your body, choose the veggies you like and keep with it.
The main reason why you'll want to consider incorporating vegetable juicing into your diet is because juicing helps you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. This is important because most of us have impaired digestion as a result of making less-than-optimal food choices over many years. This limits your body's ability to absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables. Juicing will help to "pre-digest" them for you, so you will receive most of the nutrition, rather than having it go down the toilet.
If you're the type of person like me who eats the same vegetable salads every day then you're violating the principle of regular food rotation. But with juicing, you can juice a wide variety of vegetables that you may not normally enjoy eating whole. Like ginger.
After researching around, I found the 10 most simple green juice recipes that will last you a long time.
Perfect Morning Essential: 4-6 Carrots, 4 stalks of Celery, 1 Lemon , 1 Macintosh or Yellow Apple
Hot Afternoon Boost Up: 4-6 Carrots, 4-6 stalks Celery, 1/2 bunch Cilantro, 2 Roma Tomatoes, 1 Lemon
Power After-Workout Drink: 1/2 Romaine lettuce, 3-4 leaves of Kale, 3-4 Carrots, 1/2 bunch Carrot top, 1 Apple, 1 Lime
Serious Detox: 1/2 sour green Apple, 1 Lime, 1 large Beet, 3-4 leaves Beet tops, 3-4 Carrots, 3-4 Celery stalks, small piece of Ginger
Excellent Craving Response: 3-4 large leaves of Kale, 1 whole stalk of Leek, 1 Lime, 1 large Tomato, 1/2 bunch Cilantro, 3-4 Carrots, small piece of Ginger
Delightful Green Snack: 1/2 of red Cabbage, 3-4 stalks of Celery, 4-5 leaves of Kale, 1 Lemon, 1 Lime, 1 Apple, small piece of fresh Ginger
Sweet Filling Delight: 3 cups fresh baby Spinach, 1 Lime, 1 large Tomato, 2-3 Carrots and 1/2 Carrot top bunch, 1/2 bunch Parsley, 1 stalk Celery
Quick Cleansing Drink: 2-3 Carrots, 4 Cucumbers, small piece of fresh Ginger, 1 Lemon, 1 whole Bee
Variety Vitamin Drink: 1 Lemon, 2 cups of Alfa Alfa Sprouts, small piece of fresh Ginger, 2 Carrots, 3 Cucumbers, 1/2 bunch Parsley
Exquisite Green Goodness: 3-4 leaves of Kale, 5 large Romaine Lettuce leaves, 1 Beet, 1/2 bunch of Cilantro, 1 Lime, 2 cups fresh Spinach, 1/2 App
Tip: Leeks and cabbages are challenging on some juicers so check your juicer’s instructions. If you taste some bitterness in these juices, add an apple or a tomato for taste.
Photos by Brian McDonnell
This Saturday I attended a 24-hour yoga extravaganza called Stretch For Survivors. The event was put on by a non-profit organization, Sisters 4 Survivors
determined to empower women with breast cancer. Their mission is to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in the local community, to help women feel better about themselves throughout their journey, and to empower them from diagnosis to beyond.
The 24-hour yoga event kicked of at noon with world recognized yoga teacher, Tiffany Cruikshank. We explored the depths of fear, created space for love and opened our curiously to the unknown. The one hour Vinyasa flow was filled with an energy of empowerment, grace and surrender. Tiffany's presence was not only so vibrant but there was a huge level of comfort that came with being around her.
Sisters for survivors believe that women need more than just surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to heal and survive. They need solutions to these challenges to heal all aspects of themselves that are affected with the diagnosis of breast cancer. This is why founder Tonya Priestley had a very clear goal - to assist with the “everything else” in the process of healing to better the journey and quality of life. From make-overs, photo-shoots, to alternative health, they provide a source for services that help boost women's confidence.
The 24-hour yoga event was a way to create awareness that yoga can truly help dissipate tension and anxiety and enable cancer patients to settle into a greater sense of ease and well-being. As a huge advocate for Yoga Bear, a similar organization who I work with, It's a fact that stress depresses the body's natural immune function, which may be one of the reasons that there is evidence that cancer patients who practice yoga have greater recovery rates.
If you would like to donate to this amazing organization please click HERE.
$30 can help pay for a woman to experience yoga therapy to reduce stress/increase mobility or to have a makeover when dealing with hair loss. $50 can help pay for a woman to have a massage or acupuncture to help them with pain and/or nausea and $400 can help sponsor a survivor for all of S4S's services. Any amount helps.
Once you choose hope, anything's possible - Christopher Reeve.
I've decided to do more video blogging as it seems to be a great way to demo poses instead of lists and lists of to do's. First up - Salamba Sirsasana: Tripod Headstand.
I can think back to the very first time I attempted to “go upside down” or attempt an inversion; it was a few months after I first began to dabble with Yoga. It was in an Iyengar Yoga class, using ropes and hooks. I remember at the time it seemed novel and amusing. There was an air of carnival performance as I walked my feet up the wall, braided rope around my waist, threaded through metal loop hooks. I effectively got myself “inverted” with the assistance of the equipment, and was securely fastened to the wall. I recall feeling generally safe and unemotional about the exercise.
A year or so later, I was practicing at a different studio when my teacher instructed us to prepare and eventually come up into Salamba Sirsasana at the wall. “She must be joking!” I thought. “What is the point? Can’t I just watch?" The diatribe of excuses and indignation that blasted through my mind were only slightly louder than my heart hammering in protest. Everyone else in class, seemed to think the idea of being upside down for a minute was fabulous, joyful, even refreshing. They were smiling and helping one another. I tried to hide my fear with humour while I prayed that no one was watching me fumble, my legs turned to cement, my brow furrowed itself with anxiety and I was dreading that fall once again.
I kept falling and falling and falling and falling. Every attempt, I fell. Every fall, louder and louder. I was gripping and holding onto my breath, when all along I just had to breathe through it.
My teacher’s calm confidence in my eventual success, created a crack in the foundation of my fear. I kept practicing and practicing. I purposefully sought out more challenging classes where I knew we would delve into inversions. I watched other practitioners who were more confident, read articles and exhaled when I was holding my breath in tight mindedness. My perspective changed and I changed, and my ability to go upside down is a true reflection of the amount of fear, holding and limited beliefs I have addressed on my mat and in my life.
As the wise man once said, keep practicing and all is coming. Now I have fun with inversions and laugh at my falls, and become better and stronger because of them.
So when you feel stuck, or caught up in the challenges of life, change your life story by changing the way you see the world... literally.
Yoga practice is like life. Each circumstance in which we find ourselves is like a pose. Some poses are hard to hold, others are pleasant. It is how we hold the pose that determines whether or not we will suffer or grow and whether or not we will listen to the drama of the ego or the wisdom of the spirit - Darren Main