In your yoga journey, there will probably come a time when you wonder just how some Sanskrit term applies to daily life or how the physical practice of asana relates to yoga’s transformative powers. Or, you could be thinking of a gift for your yoga-loving friends who already have all the mats, blocks, and pants they need. Fortunately, people have been writing books about yoga for thousands of years – and no matter what your question, someone has probably addressed it in writing somewhere.

Arriving at a coherent understanding of this rich and varied tradition takes time and contemplation. Books can become great friends and guides along the path. Many ancient texts are deserving of serious, scholarly study, of course, but there are also plenty of great reads worthy of curling up with on a winter’s eve. Here, we’ve summarized small library of titles reviewed by Yoga Journal that will provide a broader understanding of the practice and a deeper awareness of how yoga can transform your life.

These titles were all published within the past 10 years, which will hopefully make them more relevant to your life right now:

 

 

Stephen Cope takes up the task of interpreting the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, widely recognized as yoga’s primary sourcebook, in The Wisdom of Yoga, chronicling the experiences of several students who spend a year actively applying the practice of yoga to their personal challenges.

  1. The Secret Power of Yoga: A Woman’s Guide to the Heart and Spirit of the Yoga Sutras by Nischala Joy Devi

Radically unlike a traditional commentary on the Yoga Sutra, Nischala Joy Devi’s The Secret Power of Yoga interprets the terse, intellectual sutras as a meditation on living with ease. Her explication of the sutras is much different than traditionalists would expect.

  1. Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell

“The Gita is the sixth book of the Indian epic Mahabharata, which tells the tale of Arjuna, a warrior prince who loses his will to fight on the battlefield; his mind can’t make peace with the idea of fighting his cousins and friends. Fortunately, his charioteer is Lord Krishna, who delivers a treatise on dharma: You must act according to your duty but surrender the outcome of your actions.”

  1. Yoga: The Greater Tradition by David Frawley

This “mini-encyclopedia” is a simple, straightforward overview that shows what yoga is, where it came from, and where it can take you. “My aim is to provide students with a new vision of the universe of yoga in all its vastness,” Frawley writes.

  1. Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom by B.K.S. Iyengar

With Light on Life, Iyengar delivers a why-to book. It is a collection of the musings of a master yogi nearing the end of his life. “I am old, and death inevitably approaches,” he writes. “But both birth and death are beyond the will of a human being. They are not my domain. I do not think about it. Yoga has taught me to think only of working to live a useful life.”

jumping beach sunset surfboards

What’s better than a book about yoga? A beautiful place to read it!

You and your yoga-loving friends can join us on the breath-taking beaches of Nicaragua in our Bucket List of Bliss retreat with Cher Aslor, starting in March of 2017.
Read the full original article from Yoga Journal. Feature image from Hampton Artistic Yarns.

Yoga blocks are the Swiss army knives of the yoga world. You can do so much with this them, that you will definitely not regret the (very small) investment – and your yogi friends would be pumped to receive and learn how to use such an essential tool. At 4 inches x 9 inches x 6 inches, they basically look like slightly bigger and very lightweight bricks. But like the most inventive tools out there, the simplicity of their design is what makes then so perfect for almost anything related to your yoga practice. Here are some ways anyone, from yoga beginners to yoga pros, can use yoga blocks:

Support Tight Hips and Knees

One way to use a yoga block is to sit on one (or two) during poses that require your sit bones to be on the mat. Examples are Hero Pose (Virasana) or Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Men tend to have tighter hips than women, so stacking one or two blocks on top of each other so that you don’t injure yourself trying to force your sit bones down is perfectly acceptable. Even yoga teachers do this. Moreover, if you feel tension in your knees during seated poses that require your knees to touch the mat (such as Head-to-Knee Forward Bend) or even during poses where you are meant to be in a simple sitting position, yoga blocks can really help.

Help Find Your Balance in Standing Poses

Beginners can have a particularly difficult time finding their balance in standing hands-to-floor poses. Even for seasoned practitioners there are always days that feel a bit more off-kilter and uncentered than usual. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) is a particularly difficult pose that requires you to have one arm on the ground, and one leg parallel to the mat, while opening the front side of your body, gazing at your opposite arm lifted straight up above you. Use a yoga block as a shortcut to the floor. Also, if your can’t get your head to touch the floor in Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana), you can put the yoga block on the floor to add height.

Add Extra Length

If you are extra flexible and can touch your toes, or even bind your hands and wrists around your feet in Seated Forward Bends (Paschimottanasanas), you can use a block to extend your reach and challenge yourself. By placing the wide side of the block against the soles of your feet, you add extra length. If even that isn’t enough, you can vary the angles to the 6- or 9- inch dimensions.

To Fine Tune Your Poses

A block can be placed in between the thighs to ensure that the legs are properly aligned in poses like Bridge Pose (Setu Bandasana) or Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), where the tendency is for your legs to splay out to the sides. It can even be used in more basic poses like Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) and Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to make sure that the legs are active at all times.

There are many more uses of a yoga block. For a lightweight rectangular cube, it is a surprisingly useful piece of yoga equipment. Beginners and pros alike can benefit from the extra help a yoga block can provide.

To Personalize Your Yoga Retreat

Where are you or your yoga loving friends going to be using your yoga blocks this year? How about on a yoga retreat in the warm paradise of Nicaragua?

running fun on the beach yoga

Get Started

Try it out in your regular classes, or treat yourself to our Bucket List of Bliss yoga retreat with Cher Aslor in Nicaragua, March 19th – 25th, 2017  

Read the full original article from Do You Yoga.

A yoga mat is the number one essential tool for every yogi, and we’re excited that Yoga Journal just released their list of the best yoga mats of 2016! There’s something for every yogi – whether they are brand new to yoga, like to travel and practice, or are extra sweaty in the studio. Read on and pick the one that’s perfect for your yoga-loving friend:

  1. The Traveler

the traveler yoga mat

Is your yogi friend on the road a lot? Jade’s new Voyager mat takes up about as much space in your suitcase as a pair of folded jeans, and at 1.7 pounds, it’s lighter. Something else Yoga Journal loved: the YOGO Mat Ultralight, which has a built-in carrying handle that makes it perfect for far-away festivals.

Purple MatGreen Mat

Even more perfect for the yoga-loving traveler in your life – a yoga retreat in paradise! What could they love more than the opportunity to practice yoga in beautiful Nicaragua at our Bucket List of Bliss Retreat with Cher Aslor?

2. The Newcomer

the newcomer yoga mat

The Liforme mat reportedly takes no time to break in, and has a subtle graphic that helps newbies figure out proper foot and hand placement. Bonus: It’s made from planet-friendly naturally sourced rubber.

Pattern Mat

3. The Sweater

the sweater yoga mat

There’s nothing worse than your hands and feet sliding all over a mat, and Yoga Journal testers with the sweatiest extremities loved the stickiness of the Jade Harmony. Bonus: All of Jade’s mats are super sticky, and you can choose from various thicknesses and gorgeous colors to find one that feels customized for you.

Red Mat

4. The Art Lover

the art lover yoga mat

Want to get your yogi friend a mat that motivates by beauty and will score them compliments every time they roll it out? California-based artist Sophie Leininger hand-paints designs that she prints onto her Magic Carpet Yoga Mats. Yet these aren’t just pretty mats: testers didn’t slip in the slightest on the non- latex PVC surface.

Magic Carpet Mat

5. The Teacher

the teacher yoga mat

The Manduka Black Mat PRO and PROlite are the top choices of many yoga teachers for good reason: They’re sticky from the get-go, offer good cushioning, and last so long you won’t have to take advantage of the lifetime guarantee.

Black MatRed Mat

Yoga teachers can bring their new mats down to Nicaragua and lead a yoga retreat with us!

6. The Environmentalist

the environmentalist yoga mat

BareFoot Yoga Co.’s Original Eco Yoga jute mat is made from all-natural rubber and hessian, the material woven from jute fiber, making it one of the most sustainable on the market. Even better, testers loved how sticky it was from the outset.

Eco-friendly Mat

7. The Hot Yoga Lover

the hot yoga lover yoga mat

Yoga Design Lab’s gorgeous Combo Mat has a suede-like towel texture on top that sops up sweat and keeps you from slipping when that hot yoga class gets super steamy.

Purple Mat

8. The Tall Yogi

the tall yogi yoga mat

PrAna’s Large E.C.O. Yoga Mat is a generous 76 inches long by 30 inches wide, perfect for tall yogis or simply spreading (way) out in Savasana.

Long Mat

9. The Commuter

the commuter yoga mat

Looking for a lightweight mat to carry to class on foot or via bike or public transportation? Wai Lana’s Yogi Mat is your new portable go-to.

Light Mat

10. The Outdoorsman

the outdoorsman yoga mat

At a quarter-plus-inch thick, the CALYANA Professional Yoga Mat feels downright cushy compared to most others, yet it’s still light-weight enough to tote to class without a hassle. This mat is perfect for practicing on uneven or hard surfaces outside.

Thick Mat

11. The Well-Rounded Yogi

the well rounded yogi yoga mat

Gaiam’s Sol Dry-Grip Yoga Mat is an all-around great mat, thanks to rubber-free material (read: it’s not as stinky as some rubber mats initially are) and a polyurethane top layer that wicks away moisture and provides a slip-free grip.

Wicking Mat

12. The Sweater – Again

the sweater again yoga mat

Another option for a sweaty yogi. Oftentimes, dry-grip rubber mats don’t offer much cushioning. But lululemon athletica designed The Reversible Mat 5mm to feel softer on your knees and hips in floor poses. Plus, testers’ hands didn’t budge—no matter how hot and sweaty class got.

Teal Mat

13. The Traditionalist

the traditionalist yoga mat

They were used in India for centuries, and now yoga rugs are a growing trend. Yoga Journal testers loved Yogasana’s Earth Yoga Mat and Barefoot Yoga Co.’s Extra Long Mysore Practice Rug. Both have a tight weave that feels smooth on hands and feet, and are made of grippy, 100 percent cotton that works whether palms are dry or a bit moist. Bonus: They’re machine washable.

Blue RugBrown Rug

14. The Crowd Pleaser

the crowd pleaser yoga mat

Even if your friend isn’t a crowd pleaser, this mat is. Hugger Mugger’s Para Rubber Yoga Mat is the Goldilocks of the yoga-mat world: It’s just right when it comes to comfort, support, and grip. The mat is made from natural rubber that has a soft texture, its 1⁄4-inch thickness means plenty of padding, and it provides solid traction so that you won’t slip – starting with the first use.

Orange Mat

15. The Quote Lover

the quote lover yoga mat

With mantras like “breathe in love,” “i am enough,” and “you are awesome,” Affirmats Classic and XLong mats are a great choice if you need that empowerment nudge.

Motivational Mat

16. The Multitasker

the multitasker yoga mat

For those who take all different kinds of classes – it’s a double-duty genius: Kulae’s Elite Hybrid mat combines a mat and towel in one, with the top layer made from a sweat-absorbant bamboo/microfiber blend and a bottom layer constructed from eco-friendly polymer environmental resin (PER) that kept the mat perfectly in place on jump-through after jump-through.

Blue Mat

No matter what kind of yoga your friend loves (or that you love), a yoga retreat in Nicaragua is the perfect gift and vacation. Sign up together today for our Bucket List of Bliss Retreat with Cher Aslor – escape winter & come practice in paradise!

bucket list of bliss cher aslor yoga retreat

 

We’ve kicked off the holiday shopping season with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and although we know it’s good practice to hold back on rampant consumerism, there are a few tools you can gift to the yogi in your life that will elevate their yoga practice, which can have plenty of benefits – a better mind-body connection, elevated happiness, and a generally more mindful approach to life. Here are the top yoga tools you can get for the beginner, intermediate, or expert yogi in your life:

Beginner

Just the essentials to help those who may not have the flexibility or strength to fully complete poses yet.

yoga mat yoga block feet

  1. Yoga Mat – An essential tool for any yogi. Doing exercises on the floor requires some padding to keep from being in too much pain to practice often.
  2. Yoga Block – Another great tool for beginners. Blocks help with getting into poses and maintaining balance when you can’t quite reach the floor.
  3. Yoga Belt – This helps with getting into positions that require a little more flexibility than you currently have.
  4. Yoga Towel – This is a great tool for Bikram yoga. Yoga towels are designed to eliminate bacteria from sweat, but can also be used for support in certain poses.
  5. Yoga Retreat – Beginners can learn so much from practicing yoga away from home and their typical instructor. Sign you and your yogi friends up for a retreat in paradise with yoga expert Cher Aslor in March of 2017 – also a great way to escape winter for a week!

Intermediate

Once people are comfortable practicing yoga in a studio, they may want to take their practice outside!

yoga on the beach

  1. Outdoor Yoga Mat – These mats are thicker and can be used on rough surfaces like rock, or protect your body from sticks and debris on the ground.
  2. Outdoor Class Passes – Maybe your yogi friend wants to practice outside the confines of a studio, but still needs direction from an instructor. Find a studio near you that offers outdoor classes and get them a few.
  3. Clothes – Most people love to hang out in yoga clothes, and many beginners will stock up their wardrobe, but once you start getting into more advanced positions it becomes important to wear attire that won’t get in your way. Consider form fitting, stretchy pants and tops without sleeves to allow unrestricted movement.

Advanced

Practicing yoga isn’t just about doing poses. More advanced yogis may appreciate gifts that enhance their practice in other ways.

Nicaragua yoga face mask

  1. Books – There are SO many options for books for yogis. You can find books about meditation, chakras, the limbs of yoga, anatomy, and more. Listen in to what your friend loves about practicing yoga and find a book on that topic – you can bet it exists somewhere.
  2. A journal – We’ve written plenty about practicing gratitude by writing it down in a journal, but journals can be useful for yogis (and pretty much anyone else) in other ways too. They can write about things that happen in their daily lives and track their emotional responses, record their progress in practicing asanas, or just write down their class schedule.
  3. Essential oils – Aromatherapy from essential oils can help you relax and get better sleep or become energized and more able to focus. Many people, yogis included, appreciate essential oils and all they do for the mind and body. They range widely in price, but are all useful for adjusting mood and atmosphere, while practicing yoga or just hanging out.
  4. A yoga retreat or training – Once your yogi friend has gotten to an advanced level, they may want to start teaching others what they have learned. Earning a yoga teaching certification requires an intensive, month long commitment to learning more in depth about yoga, its history, and the best ways to instruct others in practicing yoga.

If you or a yogi friend with at least six months experience is ready to spread the joy of yoga to the world, sign up now for our Moksha Modo 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training in Nicaragua, starting February 26th, 2017.