I have a secret. I am a counterfeit. A fraud. My sordid secret? I seldom make it to my yoga mat. There, I said it. I can offer a million reasons why, but mostly, they will be make-believe half-hearted excuses to hide the real truth. The truth, for me, and I suspect countless others, is that the act of arriving on the yoga mat is a daily battle. It isn’t just my full schedule, or the countless pulls on my time and energy. No. It is much harder to admit that the act of showing up and being with myself, in that way, is what I find harder to confront. 

There have been times in my life when I showed up to my yoga mat every damn day and felt transformed by the dedication, physically, mentally, and spiritually. During those years, I even began to teach, such was my devotion to my newfound passion.

 I moved from California to Nicaragua, discovering, much to my delight, a mother/daughter team leading yoga out of their living room right in the center of town! I was elated. I had discovered yoga before leaving California and it felt good to move my body that way. What a blessing. Imagine – yoga in a small coastal town in Nicaragua! I showed up every day, 6 days a week. Some days the teacher looked disappointed. I was the only one there. Smiling. Keen as ever. ‘Come on in’ she would say, sweetly.

Then, without any warning, life changed in an instant. One morning, I arrived for class and my mother/daughter team announced that they were leaving San Juan del Sur. Shock. Horror. After class that day, my mind was racing. What would I do? How could I survive? The transition into Nicaragua from my pretty plush life in California had not been easy. In fact, some days it was downright impossible. Power outages, water shortages, parasites, heat, humidity, bugs, dengue fever. You get the general idea. Life was pretty third world. Add on first world complaints of missing my family, a warm bath, a Costco type store with all your consumerism needs under one roof and you have a recipe for discontentment. But I had yoga. Or did I? My teachers were about to leave Nicaragua and take my yoga class with them!

So, as you might guess, that is how I came to teach. I was never cocky enough or even trained enough to think I should teach. It just organically evolved out of necessity to keep up the practice. Being an extrovert through and through, there was no way I could do it alone. Especially at that time in my life. Everything was better with others! Before they left, my mother/daughter teachers handed me David Swenson’s, ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ Manual and there, the legacy began. I would go on to lead a modified version of the primary series with a whole ton of chatarangas and that was where it started.

I moved into the house my teachers moved out of and placed a sign on the gate to the house, offering yoga and a cup of tea for a few dollars. I quickly became known as the “yoga teacher” in town. Hotels would call me to lead private classes for their guests. For the first time in my life I was doing what I wanted, I was living a purposeful life. I still had that sinking feeling that I was a fraud. If a “real” teacher came through town, I would ask them to lead the class, as I was certain they had more knowledge than me. The strange reality was that I was starting to build a little following and my regular students would get upset when I would have someone else lead the class. They would say they came for my class. Wow, that was surprising!

Over the next few years, I became officially trained by a man named Vedantin out of San Francisco. He led several teacher training courses in Nicaragua and would let me partake as time allowed. Eventually he pronounced that I was indeed certified, from a combination of his teachings and the fact that I had indeed already been teaching for a few years. The majority of my learning though had been self taught, from books and life experience.

Over the next decade life provided plenty of excuses to forgo my own yoga practice. The most obvious was also the most challenging and without a doubt most rewarding role I had yet to take on. Motherhood. I had three babies in the last decade and I will not down play what that requires. In short, kids drain your life force, if you nurse they literally suck the calcium from your bones!  Simultaneously they feed your soul and grow your capacity to love.

My yoga practice for the first two years of each of my boy’s lives was just that. Being their Mom. Working through the night. Nursing around the clock. Trying to keep calm and steady while they required so much of me. Even as I write this blog, my third boy (yes, all boys!) has been sick with diarrhea. He’s plain pissed off. My middle son has pink eye. Life is a barrel full of laughs at present. Which reminds me of something I always tell my students. Something I need to take heed of myself…

Suffering comes from resisting what is. When you want something to be different than it is.

It was true when my teachers were leaving and it is true now as my kids are sick. Wanting things to be different than they are is a great discontentment feeder.

The sweet reminder that I am doing the best that I can, can not be uttered often enough. My Mother-in-law told me once that she wants her headstone to read, “She done all she could”. I love this. Aren’t we all doing the best we can?

I suppose, the truth is that I can teach even without my own consistent practice. For at the end of the day, I am practicing. I am showing up every day to my life. I am breathing, moving, loving, crying, laughing, growing, shrinking, “MOMing”, reflecting, meditating, being still, running in every direction,  in short I am doing the best I can. 

Eventually, my path led me to open the first “official” yoga studio in San Juan del Sur. Although for me there was and will always be the memory of our first little studio right in my living room, in the middle of the market square in San Juan del Sur, where it all started. When life was so much more simple. When my day required only that I show up to my mat and nothing more. I can not say I miss those days. How can you miss what you were fully present for? Rather, I am grateful beyond measure that I had that time. It allowed me to really know myself. It prepared me for what was to come. It stamped the memory on my heart of the sweet self care time. It gave me a home to return to, time and again, as life became more complicated. 

I guess I am not a fraud after all. For a fraud sets off to fool you. I never meant to do that. I only ever wanted to learn more and give my best. Fourteen years and multiple certifications later, that is still true. Maybe more true. Maybe the definition of a fraud is one who thinks they have it all figured out. If that is the definition, then I could never be a fraud because the longer I teach the more I understand how much I have to learn and then the process starts all over again.

Started writing this 2017, just reread and published 2019 ~ Vanessa Pattison

Michael Greger, MD, recently wrote for NutritionFacts.org about the many benefits one can experience when eating a plant-based diet. The list is so incredibly long and well-researched, you might be convinced to give up meat altogether; however, if you’re not, you can at least learn about these many benefits and consider going veggie just one or two days a week!

Learn more about hosting your own plant-based, raw food detox yoga retreat with us!

A significant convergence of evidence suggests that plant-based diets can help prevent and even reverse some of the top killer diseases in the Western world and can be more effective than medication and surgery. See the following topics for research findings relevant to the most prevalent chronic conditions.

Additionally, plant-based eating may have a positive effect on reducing abdominal fat and acne, reversing the effects of aging and reducing the effects of allergies and asthma, and combatting overbearing body-odor. A plant-based diet can also positively impact cellulite, childhood IQ, cognition, eczema, gut bacteria, kidney stones, mood, oral health, waist circumference, and weight management – we were not kidding about how long the list of benefits is!

Plant-based eating also appears to help prevent:

Eating meat and other animal products may be associated with weight gain and a shortened lifespan. Meat also contains a high amount of saturated fat, trans fats, sulfur dioxide arachidonic acid, and heme iron. Meat, fish, dairy, and eggs may also increase our exposure to dietary antibiotics, industrial toxins, mercury and other toxic heavy metals, advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), cadmium, xenoestrogens in fish, and estrogenic meat carcinogens.

A plant-based diet can detoxify the body of these pollutants. Even just a step towards eating more plant-based might lengthen lifespan.

Contrary to popular myth, vegans have healthy bones and higher blood protein levels than omnivores, and most vegans get more than enough protein. In one study, within a matter of weeks, participants placed on the plant-based diet experienced improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels, insulin resistance, and C-reactive protein levels.

Vegans may have fewer nutrient deficiencies than average omnivores while maintaining a lower body weight without losing muscle mass. Those eating plant-based diets appear to experience enhanced athletic recovery without affecting the benefits of exercise. The arteries of vegans appear healthier than even long-distance endurance athletes and those on low-carb diets. In fact, the Paleo Diet may increase the risk of toxin contamination, DNA damage, and cancer.

There are two vitamins not available in plants: vitamins D and B12. There is a serious risk of B12 deficiency if no supplements or B12-fortified foods are consumed. Two other nutrients to monitor are iodine and zinc. Yeast- or algae-based long chain omega 3 fatty acids may also be beneficial.

Medical training continues to underemphasize nutrition education, meaning patients often do not receive information about all of the options for treatment. Doctors report they don’t practice preventative cardiology because they fear their patients won’t change their diet. Kaiser Permanente has begun more aggressive efforts to apprise patients about the advantages of plant-based diets.

Host a yoga retreat in Nicaragua that offers raw, plant-based meals to detoxify and rejuvenate while you practice yoga in paradise.

As the winter draws to a close, many people feel like the dark nights and cold days are never going to end. In the two months after the holidays, as we get back into the swing of work and daily stressors, we dream of traveling somewhere warm for a little well-deserved relaxation time. Turns out, this can actually be great for your physical and mental health. Here is Spirituality & Health’s list of the top 14 benefits of taking a beach vacation:

 

  1. Feel Refreshed—Beach mist is filled with an abundance of anions (negative ions), which boost the immune system, facilitate oxygen absorption in the lungs, and relieve stress and depression by regulating serotonin levels in the brain. These anions also act as antioxidants, cancelling out free radicals and thus increasing longevity and preserving youthful looks.
  2. Breathe Easier—Because gusts bring beach air to shore from the ocean, it tends to be clean and pollen-free. Sea air is also a natural nasal saline spray, clearing your respiratory passageways of allergens and pollutants. In fact, experts find that those who live by the beach and regularly swim in seawater tend to have healthier respiratory systems. If you have allergies, asthma, sinusitis, or bronchitis, swimming at the beach will naturally help flush out phlegm.
  3. Exfoliate—Your first step onto the beach begins to naturally exfoliate your feet. Now lie down and get a free, full-body exfoliation by gently scrubbing beach sand all over.
  4. Repair Skin Damage—Swimming in seawater opens your pores while sea salts (potassium chloride and sodium chloride) naturally seal any damaged skin. Regular swimming at the beach has been shown to relieve eczema, psoriasis, and rashes, as well as to shrink pimples and facilitate the healing of cuts and scrapes.
  5. Ease Pain—A plunge into cool water activates cold sensors positioned about 0.2 mm beneath your skin, which then trigger adrenaline and endorphin surges, thereby instantly dulling pain and invigorating you. Long term, bathing in seawater has anti-inflammatory effects that ease arthritis as well as your other aches and pains.

Practicing yoga is also proven to help ease muscle pain. Take your beach vacation to the shores of Nicaragua for a yoga retreat with world-class instructors.

  1. Moisturize—One study found that dry-skin sufferers experienced significant hydration after a 15-minute soak in seawater, but no benefit from a similar soak in tap water. (Note: One big difference is salt water’s magnesium, which helps boost the glow of moist skin.)
  2. Replenish Minerals—Seawater’s chemical makeup is similar to blood plasma. (After all, all life originated in the ocean!) Simply wading in seawater helps replenishes your blood with magnesium, iodine, potassium, sodium, calcium, and other minerals and amino acids, which enter through your pores.
  3. Beat Stress—Magnesium has also been shown to relieve anxiousness and irritability and to induce calmness. Beach swimming not only replenishes magnesium, it also preserves your melatonin (involved in sleep regulation) and tryptamine. In bringing all these neurotransmitters up to healthy levels, swimming in seawater relieves stress, relaxes muscles, and helps cure insomnia.
  4. Build Resilience—The more frequently you expose yourself to cool seawater, the less your heart and breathing rates will increase during physiological stress, ultimately making your body more resilient.
  5. Improve Cardio—When you enter cool water, your body quickly moves your blood from your extremities to concentrate it around your inner organs. Then, after your body heats up from swimming, your body moves your blood back around your extremities to prevent overheating. This super-cardio training will help keep you warm all winter.
  6. Detox—When your blood rushes from your extremities to your organs and back again, the cycle flushes out toxins through your pores.
  7. Boost Immunity—Studies show that, first, beach swimming increases white blood cell count over time. The theory is that the cold seawater acts as a mild stressor, like a workout for your immune system. Second, like breathing in beach mist, iodine enters your skin’s pores from seawater while swimming, further strengthening your immune system via enhanced thyroid regulation.
  8. Lose Weight—Cool-water workouts can burn twice the calories of warmer pool swims, because you burn energy to keep warm.
  9. Feel Sexier—Routinely exposing yourself to cold seawater increases testosterone levels in men and estrogen levels in women. Your libido will increase, your fertility will improve, and you’ll feel better all over.

Couple your much-needed beach getaway with our Bucket List of Bliss yoga retreat with Cher Aslor to maximize your relaxation & rejuvenation. Sign up today!

Many people resolve to lose weight every year, starting January 1st. You’ve heard it – “New year, new me!” Unfortunately, studies show that a mere 8% of people stick to their new year resolutions, with new year diets lasting only about two months. We have a few tips to help you with your weight loss resolution (or if you just want to get healthy, or exercise more, or whatever!) in 2017.

  1. Make specific goals: Have you heard of SMART goals? Make goals specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and timely. Yoga is perfect for SMART goals. You can pick a specific pose you want to be able to do (measurable, of course, by actually doing it), share your goal with your yoga instructor who can keep you accountable (and can agree that this is a realistic goal for you), and pick a deadline for being able to do the pose. You will have to work hard every day to work up achieving your goal, and can pick a new and more difficult pose every month – keeping you working all year.
  2. Be patient: Many people give up on their journey to health or a lower weight because they want instant gratification. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. Use the non-exercise aspects of yoga – breathing, meditation, mindfulness – to stay present and grounded and remind yourself that achieving your goals will take time and dedication.
  1. Share your goals: Letting people in on your goals will help keep you accountable. Tell your friends, family, and most importantly your yoga classmates and instructor that you have set out a definite timeline of achievable yoga poses, and that you will be working all year to make it to those deadlines. You might be surprised at how many people remember and remind you to stay on track. Fitness, health, and weight loss don’t have to be done alone.

Even better, share a yoga experience of a lifetime with your friends at a yoga retreat in Nicaragua.

  1. Schedule it: This goes back to the “timely” aspect of SMART goals, and what better way to schedule work towards your goals than to sign up for yoga classes? You’ll have set times on set days that you have paid for and will want to stick to – especially if you’ve told all your friends and they call to ask where you are if you don’t go!
  1. Be resilient: Whether you get sidetracked by an injury or have a tough time keeping your schedule due to demands in other areas of your life, stick with it. Yoga can be done in short intervals every day, wherever you have time, which makes it a perfect activity for keeping up your weight loss or health goals all year. Just devote yourself to doing something every day, no matter how small.

Set yourself up to achieve your yoga goals this year by learning from and practicing with world class instructor Cher Aslor at her Bucket List of Bliss yoga retreat in Nicaragua.

Want to become an instructor rather than just practice? Join a Yoga Teacher Training right here in Nicaragua.

14 Yoga Poses to Revamp Your Vinyasa Routine

Once you start doing yoga, it doesn’t take long to get familiar with the basic poses. What was once intimidating is soon fun, and not only can you down dog with the best of them but you can even say “happy baby pose” without giggling. Eventually, you start to want more. Don’t get us wrong, you can always work on making your basic poses stronger, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting to push yourself a little bit.” (more…)

The editors of Travel & Leisure spilled their top travel resolutions – “whether it’s nailing the art of healthy travel, booking flights earlier to save cash, or snagging elite status from their favorite airlines.” These are our favorites, and ones we have resolved to do ourselves some day:

Get Outta the Country

“My priority for 2016 is to obtain a passport and take a maiden voyage out of the country. Not having many American cities left to visit on my bucket list, it’s time for me to venture out.” Mariah Tyler, Digital Photo Editor

Buy Tickets Early

“Start buying my tickets at the right time! I’m a chronic procrastinator when it comes to buying plane tickets, and while I’ve managed to get lucky so far, I could save serious cash with smarter planning. And thanks to the new bunch of forecasting apps, it’s easier than ever to buy at the right time, even for lazy shoppers like me.” Lila Battis, Associate Editor

Sign up & buy your tickets now to come learn to be a yoga teacher in the paradise of Nicaragua with Ella Luckett.

Cut the Gluttony

healthy vegetable wraps nicaragua yoga

“While eating like a local can be the highlight of a trip, it doesn’t mean that you have to pig out. I generally overindulge when I’m on the road, whether it’s too many snacks or frequently eating out. My goal for the upcoming year is to reign it in a bit and focus on eating healthier while on vacation (at least part of the time). Sean Flynn, Senior Web Producer

(Okay, we don’t need to make a resolution for this one. All of our yoga retreats and trainings feature health, local, natural meals!)

Go Solo

solo mindfulness nicaragua

“One of my resolutions for 2016 is to plan a solo trip. Obviously it’s fun to travel with friends and family, but it can be hard to juggle people’s schedules and priorities. Lately, I’ve been fantasizing about laying on a beach alone, with nothing to distract me and time to reflect, recharge, and make my own schedule. Plus, when traveling alone, you never know what interesting people you’ll meet.”Laura Itzkowitz, Contributing Digital Editor

Use Every Last Vacation Day

“Plan out my vacations for the year in January so that I not only have something to look forward to all year long, but can make sure I use the vacation time I have to recharge rather than letting it go unused.” Pam Russo, VP and General Manager

Do Good

“Participate in or help organize a volunteer trip abroad. Every day on the Greek island of Lesbos, some 2,000 Syrian refugees are displaced and in need of help. There are so many real-world issues happening both at home and overseas, but the opportunity to help during this crisis is something that is extremely important to me. After all, there’s nothing better than traveling than traveling for a good cause.” Michelle Gross, Producer and Contributor

Stay Fit on the Road

ella luckett jai yoga

“This will be the year I pack workout clothes—and use them. I must figure out how to maintain the exercise routine, even when I’m away. Especially when I’m away. Seeking all tips and suggestions from anyone who has figured it out, but I know that keeping up with workouts when traveling makes a huge difference for your health.” —Corina Quinn, Digital Travel Editor

Attend a 200 hour yoga teacher training and you’ll not only get a Yoga Alliance certification, you’ll leave your vacation more toned than ever!

Read the full original article from Travel & Leisure.

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.