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i'm the ny yoga examiner!
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Sunday
Nov182012

yoga lesson: yoga is for everyone

a new found friend on facebook, rachel yula kolberg, resides in israel where she is rocking her yoga!

so remember, no matter what your religion, your wardrobe or your location on the globe - you can do yoga! 

the yoga lesson:  explore your practice and make it your own :) and sometimes it helps if you upside down to flip your perspective.

 

Monday
Oct012012

yoga lesson: "If more people in the U.S. start meditating and becoming more peaceful, then so will the world become more peaceful."

Yogmata's take on america.  so let's forget Democratic and Republican differences, with the upcoming election quickly approaching, this sounds like a great campaign platform for humankind!

yogmata, aka yoga mother, is in nyc this october to host two days of meditation workshops.  she's pretty amazing, being she's the first woman and non-indian person to have achieved samadhi (yoga enlightment)! 

check out my examiner.com article for more on her nyc workshops. Her workshops are said to calm and purify the mind, creating balance and recharging the mental, physical and spiritual energies. Yogmata also incorporates breathing techniques in her workshops to help renew energy. She leads each workshop with a mantra known as "Diksha" which allows attendees to receive her blessings.

who's in?!

Wednesday
Aug222012

yoga lesson: yoga in everyday and outside

the practice of yoga is finding the union, making that connection between where you are, who you are and what you are doing.  the simplest way to witness this is through the breath, but there are many other examples including gardening and other activities that you can transform into a meditative practice - and you might even discover some yoga postures in there :)

if you are in or around nyc, here are some fun outdoor yoga events happening in your near future - and of course yogadeal-budget-friendly.

 

Wednesday
Aug152012

yoga lesson: kitty yoga for sequencing inspiration

if you're having trouble getting out of bed, forget the mat, start some deep breaths and slow, aware movements like this kitty.  if you're a bit more stiff in the morning bend at the knees so you don't stress out your back or hamstring as your ody starts to warm up.

Friday
Aug102012

yoga lesson: awareness in a bottle (or beware of china gel)

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to deter you from going to yoga studios, it is just meant to help raise awareness of product safety to ensure your overall well-being (which is the same as what you look to yoga for now isn't it?).

I'll admit it - as a yoga teacher and a yoga student myself - part of the perks of going to yoga class in a studio setting vs. living a solitary home practice are the adjustments made by the instructor and the occasional massage of your tried/stressed out body with some great smelling cream, lotion or whatever it is that 'teach' slathers all over you. 

This magical cream is the cue for my worlds to collide.

By day I am part of team that stresses the importance of natural beauty products that are good for you while still getting the job done.  And then here I am in yoga class, when I'm supposed to be at ease, preparing my body for meditation, when all I can think about is what toxins am i now bathing in and breathing in after my lovely teacher anointed me with something soothing.

After some Googling I found the ingredients of the China Gel, which is the go-to topical pain reliever for many well known studios.  Often it gets slathered on students throughout class to help release muscle tension and make one feel good, here is the full list of ingredients.  

Menthol 5%, Camphor 3% Formulated in a specially prepared base containing water, aloe Vera gel, isopropyl alcohol, lavender oil, witch hazel, triethanolamine, carbomer, ginseng extract, angelica extract, polysorbate 60, DMDM hydantion, imidazolidinyl urea, blue 1, yellow 5

The list starts off on a positive note with healing and soothing natural ingredients, but then just goes downhill.  Here is the breakdown of the good, the OK and the downright terrible ingredients. 

Sidebar:  Before we get started, you might ask why is ingredient safety so important?  Well unlike food in the USA, there is no cosmetics version of the FDA that regulates beauty and lifestyle products. There is no one policing this mega-huge industry and the sad truth is that many companies are more concerned with if the product looks pretty (artificial colorants), feels good (they add stuff like petroleum and dimethicone) and smells good enough for people to want to buy it (hello there, toxic, hormone-altering artificial fragrances).  Sure we can't live under a rock and hope nothing bad will ever happen to us, but we can take the time to make a conscious effort to care just as much about what we put one our bodies as much as what we put in them.  Afterall, the skin is the largest organ of the body and when it absorbs all of those beauty products, what do you think happens?

*spoiler alert*

They enter our blood stream and affect our entire body, including vital organs, fertility... the list goes on.  If you really wanted to have a great understanding of how it all goes down, read No More Dirty Looks (the blog and the book), it's an interesting, eye-opening reference guide for anyone that uses beauty products and prefers have information in a language they can understand even if they are not a scientist - yeah, that's right, pretty much everyone.

The GOOD:

  • menthol - a natural ingredient that gives that tingly feeling, helping to reduce the feeling of aches and pains
  • camphor - see menthol above
  • aloe vera gel - a natural ingredient that has a myriad of benefits, but for this product it provides the gel base/consistency
  • lavender oil - a natural essential oil that is a skin soother which also helps alleviate stress, headaches, depression and insomnia - basically it helps you mellow
  • witch hazel - a natural astringent that helps to tighten pores, reducing inflammation
  • ginseng extract - a natural tonic that helps the body rebound from mental and physical stress
  • angelica extract - a natural antispasmodic, in other words a muscle relaxer

The OK:

  • isopropyl alcohol - a pain reliever, among other things, that can be drying to the skin
  • polysorbate 60 - a preservative, a safe one, but it's still a preservative (which most products need or else they either turn rancid, stop working effectively in a short time or both)
  • triethanolamine - a surfactanct/emulsifying agent which basically helps the ingredient mix together and then stay together otherwise over time they will separate

The TERRIBLE:

  • carbomer - a polymer - yes, as in a plastic - that helps to create the appearance of a thick creamy gel
  • DMDM hydantion - a 'formaldehyde donor' preservative - that's right, the same formaldehyde that is linked to bad things like oh... cancer.
  • imidazolidinyl urea- an antimicrobial perservative that helps to activate the dmdm hydantion, and some cases this ingredient is derived from animal urine - definitely not vegan.
  • blue 1 - an artificial dye, linked to all sorts of bad stuff, like cancer (yes, another cancer-friendly ingredient) and hyperactivity (attention deficit disorders, oh the irony)
  • yellow 5 - see blue 1

Ok, now for the light at the end of the tunnel.  If you like the effects of the aforementioned gel, there is good news, there are safe alternatives out there!

1. SHE Sore Muscle Balm
2. Badger Sore Joint Arnica Rub
3. Mama Mio Lucky Legs Cooling Serum