Out There: Detox to Retox with Margaritas Post-Mat

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If you like the idea of a hard-core practice and aren’t one to pass up a stiff drink, you’ll love what they’re doing in Albuquerque, NM, by adding margaritas to the practice mix. Call it the ultimate happy hour. Combining blissed-out yogis and booze might not be the most traditional combination, but event sponsors Lululemon Athletica and El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina, which is known for having one of the largest tequila bars in the Southwest, hope it will be a fun way to build community and celebrate good health to boot.

The events, which take place on Sunday mornings throughout the summer, start out with yoga outdoors in the park behind the restaurant, led by local Lululemon ambassadors. Then participants will be invited to brunch (yogis receive $10 off their meal) where they’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a margarita and the restaurant’s healthy menu, including rice bran for frying, celtic sea salt for seasoning, and organic, local salad mix.

What: Yoga and Margaritas

When: Sundays from 10-11am

Where: El Pinto Restaurant and Cantina in Albuquerque, NM

Cost: $5 donation + the cost of brunch

—Erica Rodefer Winters

How to DIY Your Own Farm-to-Yoga Event

The farm-to-table movement brought the farm to yogis. Now, the Farm-to-Yoga movement is building the farmer-yogi-locavore community even further, in places as far-flung as… Brooklyn.

Abby Paloma, who teaches at Yoga Vida in NYC, held her first Farm-to-Yoga event 4 1/2 years ago. She had a surplus of crops and simply wanted to share them and celebrate with friends. Since then, word of her sustainable dinner and yoga series has spread faster than you can say Om.

Abby Paloma

“The dream is that from physical connection there will be more cross-pollination between local yogis and local farmers,” says Paloma, a self-taught chef who helps design the menu for each Farm-to-Table dinner.

Each Farm-to-Table event features a tour of a local farm, outdoor yoga classes and a multi-course meal prepared by a team of holistic chefs, featuring fresh-picked organic produce in dishes like eggplant tahini dip, kale salad and raw vegan chocolate cherry pie.

“The project began from the desire to reconnect people to the nourishing earth, to their local food system and, ultimately, to what is sacred,” Paloma explains. “I realized that all people really needed an opportunity to set foot on a farm. In a world where it is so easy to be removed from the essence of food, I was super motivated to offer people a chance to see and learn about food right at the source.”

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Paloma holds about eight feasts a year at Growing Heart Farm (a small-scale organic farm in Pawling, N.Y., 75 miles north of the Big Apple), as many as possible at Suzie’s Farm in San Diego and, on July 29, she’ll host her first Farm-to-Yoga event at Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm in the heart of New York City (click here to register for the Brooklyn Grange event).

But you don’t have to hop on a plane (or subway) to DIY your own farm to yoga event. “Visit your local farm or farmer’s market,” says Paloma. “Buy some seedlings. Start a garden. At harvest time, invite some friends and your yoga teacher over. Practice together, harvest together, cook together and share a meal to remember!”

Here’s one of Paloma’s favorite recipes to get you started:

Abby Paloma’s Spring Kimchi Miso Tahini Soup

Ingredients:
6 cups water
6 turnips (save those green tops)
¼ cup wakame seaweed
½ cup cauliflower
½ cup kimchi
½ cup spring snap peas
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp tamari (it’s a pretty basic Asian condiment like soy sauce)
1 tbsp tahini
Optional: ½ cup locally-caught flounder or any kind of white fish or tofu

Roughly chop kimchi, turnips, turnip greens, snap peas and cauliflower into soup size bites. Bring water to boil in soup pot. Add cauliflower first. Wait 5 minutes and add rest of vegetables and wakame seaweed. Keep stove on medium heat for another 5 to 7 minutes then turn off heat. Immediately add chopped fish or tofu. Stir in miso, toasted sesame oil, tahini and tamari to taste. Make sure miso is completely stirred in and serve soup over brown rice or rice noodles. Garnish with sliced green onions or shiso leaf.

–Dana Meltzer Zepeda

Manduka’s NEW Mat for Kids and 3 Other Yoga Mom Must Haves

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Moms are doing yoga. Kids are doing yoga. Moms and kids are doing yoga together.

With babies hitting the mat as young as a few weeks old – and more products than ever before on the yoga-for-kids market — we asked Yoga Journal’s brand director Kristen Dollard, who is both yogi and mom to 7-year-old Avery and 2-year-old Luke, for her 4 must-haves:

1. Manduka’s LiveON Kids Mat

“I’m a huge fan of Manduka’s new kiddie yoga mat, from their new 100 percent reclaimable and recyclable LiveOn line of yoga products,” Dollard says. “Kids love the bright colors and playful animal design, and the supportive cushion protects little bones and joints.”

[Plus, to celebrate the LiveON Kids Mat, Manduka asked some of their favorite little yogis to talk about their practice. Watch the video.]

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2. ANYTHING by Kira Willey of Fireflies.

“Kindie” music artist and yogi Kira Willey is known for her two-in-one albums that combine upbeat children’s tunes with yoga inspiration. “The ready-made classes and music are amazing,” Dollard says.

3. ivivva leggings for girls

Dollard loves lululemon’s ivivva line for active girls. ”My athletic daughter needs leggings that go from tennis camp to mom’s at-home yoga studio, so ivivva’s leggings are our go-tos,” Dollard says. “Plus, I know several moms who save money by shopping in the tween department for themselves.”

4. The Honest Company’s diapers

“My 2-year-old loves doing yoga wearing nothing but Jessica Alba’s eco-friendly and cute patterned diapers,” Dollard says. “I put my prepster in the anchor pattern, and when he is acting rebellious we opt for skeletons.”

–Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

5 Barre Moves Every Yogi Should Try

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Build more strength with Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego Presenter Elisabeth Halfpapp

Are you ready to mix up your daily routine with something new? Ab work may not be the kind of fun you had in mind, but building a strong core is paramount to your yoga practice. Barre classes help build strength from deep within the core—by hitting muscles your regular rotation of asanas might not. Start supplementing your yoga practice with this sequence of five barre moves from Elisabeth Halfpapp, founding member of Exhale Spa and co-creator of the Core Fusion® Barre Program.

1. Side Plank Pushup

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Resting on your right elbow, press your hips up to form a straight line head to toe. Hold for 30 seconds. Then pulse your hips up and down an inch 10 times. Repeat on the left side.

2. C-Curve Parallel Thighs

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You’ll need a block and a wall. Place a block between your inner thighs and step away from the wall to form a C-curve. Pull in your abs and squeeze the block with your inner thighs, as you rise onto balls of your feet. Lower your heels down an inch and back up an inch. Repeat 20 times. Take a short break, breathing deeply, then do a second set of 20.

3. Flat Back

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Sit pressing your lower back into a wall. Pull in your abdominals and press your fingers and hands into the floor in front of you. Using your hands and abs as a brace, lift your right leg 10 times, then your left leg 10 times. Then alternate legs, lifting one at a time. Finally, try lifting both legs off the floor 10 times.

4. Round Back

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Sitting at a wall, broaden your shoulder blades and press the space between them into the wall. As you press your fingertips into the floor on either side of your hips, pull your abdominals in to brace for your core. Extend your legs above your hips, as straight as you can. Hold for 30 seconds while pulling in your abs and actively pressing your fingertips into the floor. Rest and hug your legs into your chest, then repeat two more times. Modification: If you’re unable to straighten your legs above your hips, lower both legs to a 45-degree angle.

5. Twisted Curl

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Sit with your waist and lower back pressing into a mat, elbows under shoulders and shoulder blades lifted. Tuck your tailbone under to feel an imprint of your sacrum on the mat. Pull in your abdominals and breathe without moving the abdominal wall. Keeping your torso like this, place your hands on your outer thighs—one hand on each leg. Keeping the back of your waist and lower back on the mat, twist to your right and place both hands on your right outer thigh with elbows lifted high and wide, shoulders down, chin up, abs pulled in, and gluteals tucked under. Hold this for 30 seconds. Then rest on your elbows and repeat on the left side. Do two sets on each side.

Have you ever wondered which yoga poses are included in a barre class? Here are five that barre regulars are familiar with.

1. Fire log pose (Agnistambhasana)

2. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)

3. Dolphin Plank

4. Cat pose (Marjaryasana)

5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Did you like this sequence? Practice with Elisabeth at our San Diego LIVE! event next month. She’s leading two Core Fusion Barre classes. Use promo code EXHALE when registering and save $50. For full details, click here.

—Meagan Dobson

9 Must-Pack Essentials for Yoga Festivals

Summer yoga festival season is finally in full swing. (Mark your calendar: Yoga Journal LIVE! San Diego kicks off July 10!) But stressing over what to pack in your yoga bag kind of defeats the purpose of taking a bliss break to begin with. Don’t waste precious time you could be spending in Savasana shopping for your getaway. We’ve done the homework for you. Here’s what you’ll need to get into your festival flow.

1. Stay fresh-faced.

Refresh your skin between sessions with these post-workout facial wipes infused with aloe, cucumber and green tea extract. Yogi Wipe, $40, available at yogiwipe.com

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2. Get green juice to-go.

Green juice in powder form—finally. These travel-friendly packs are perfect for keeping up your healthy regimen on the road. Mix ORAC Green SuperFood Packets from Amazing Grass with juice or water for 5 to 9 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. No blender needed. Green SuperFood Packets-15 count, $21.99, available at amazinggrass.com

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3. Upgrade your mat. 

This super slip-resistant mat comes with a detachable strap that can be used for stretching or to tote it over your shoulder. Plus, lines down the center help you with proper alignment as you flow from pose to pose. Stick-e yoga mat, $49.95, available at stick-e.com

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4. Tame your mane. Stray hairs don’t have to stand between you and Scorpion. This silicone headband is guaranteed to stay in place during the most vigorous Vinyasa. Fly Away Tamer Headband, $12, available at lululemon.com Fly Away Tamer Headband_DSC8224HB

5. Keep your cool.

Kicking off your day with a hard-core class can leave you looking like a sweat-stained slob by your second session. Beat the heat with these stylish tie-dyed moisture-wicking shorts. Liberty Shorts, $54, available at daubanddesign.com Daub + Design Yoga Shorts

6. Stick to it.

Your yoga mat doesn’t have to feel like a Slip ‘N Slide. These fun socks not only provide traction but also strengthen your feet and increase blood circulation. Full Toe Bella Grip Socks, $16, available at toesox.com GripSocks_Bella_FT_LightPurple

7. Keep hydration handy.

This collapsible, foldable water bottle is lightweight, BPA-free and will keep you hydrated without hogging all of your luggage space. Vapur .5L Shades, $9.99, available at vapur.us

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8. Green your guy gear.

Guys, these comfy lightweight practice-ready pants are made from 87 percent recycled polyester and moisture-repellent material. PrAna Flex Pant, $75, available at prana.com

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9. Clean up.

Spritz your yoga mat post-festival with these biodegradable, organic essential oil sprays. Choose from Tranquil Lavender, Energizing Gingergrass and Soothing Citrus. Mat Renew Spray, $10, available at manduka.com Mat Renew Citrus

—Dana Meltzer Zepeda

Celebrate the Summer Solstice: Do Yoga in Times Square

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How should you salute the sun when it reaches its highest point in the sky this weekend? By doing yoga, of course!

This Saturday, June 21, Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga (#SolsticeTSq) will pay tribute to the Summer Solstice, also known as the longest day of the year and the first day of summer, with a free day of yoga classes, starting at 5:30 a.m. with Sunrise Vinyasa and ending with an 8 p.m. Sunset Flow class.

The free event @TimesSquareNYC is currently at capacity, but The Times Square Alliance and Athleta will stream the event live on YogaJournal.com so you can join the classes right from your own yoga mat at home!

Locals can also participate in day two of the event on Sunday, June 22, by registering for the MINDBODY Sol Conference, featuring master classes in yoga, meditation and more, taught by luminaries like Rodney Yee and Alan Finger ($20 per class). Happy summer!

–Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

Out There: Yoga + Music = Soulshine

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Michael Franti has been a yoga enthusiast for years—and he’s not shy about sharing his love for the practice with the world. His dedication to yoga often shows in his song lyrics, and, yes, even his Instagram feed! It should surprise no one, then, that yoga plays a starring role in the upcoming Michael Franti and Spearhead Soulshine Tour, set to kick off later this month.

Each concert date on the tour will begin with an all-levels yoga session, accompanied by live, acoustic music by Michael Franti and friends. Yoga will be led by one of three well-known yoga teachers: Ryan Leier, Seane Corn, or Baron Baptiste. Of course, following yoga Franti and crew promise an amazing concert experience with an impressive line up of artists. If you like to move your asana to live music, you won’t want to miss it!

Who: Music by Michael Franti and Spearhead, SOJA, Brett Dennon, Trevor Hall; Yoga by Ryan Leier, Seane Corn, or Baron Baptiste

When: June 19 – August 2

Where: The tour kicks off in Santa Barbara, and stops in major cities. For complete tour dates,  visit soulshine.com.

 

 

Yoga at Bouley Botanical: A 4-Star Remedy for the Soul

Stuffing your belly with baked goods doesn’t usually follow belly breathing, but it does at Bouley Botanical, a new event space from four-star chef David Bouley that recently hosted a series of Saturday morning yoga classes in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood.

With plentiful sunlight streaming through indoor window gardens containing more than 400 types of edible plants, a recent Saturday 10 a.m. class was truly a feast for all the senses.

Sarah Eve Cardell, who teaches at Dharma Yoga Center, led a friendly group of a dozen or so yogis of all ages and levels, accompanied by a musician who played the dilruba, a classical Indian string instrument. We started the class by setting our intention for the morning, and Cardell urged us to considering dedicating our practice to loved ones who were not present in the room. If all this sounds super serious and New Agey, it wasn’t. As Cardell reminded us, it was the weekend — “time to rest and have some fun!”

After 90 minutes of gentle yet sufficiently challenging yoga, we rewarded ourselves with Bouley’s fresh pressed juices and decadent pound cake. Cardell also provided another treat: delicious organic raw vegan chocolate truffles that she made herself. “Raw cacao is food of the gods and delicious heart-opening medicine,” she explained.

Yoga at Bouley Botanical: heart medicine indeed.

Yoga classes at Bouley Botanical are currently on hiatus, but they are scheduled to resume in the fall. Click here to learn more about upcoming Bouley lifestyle and wellness events.

—Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

4 Reasons Why Yoga Is Great For Your Dad (And All Dads)

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Matthew McConaughey. Adam Levine. Robert Downey Jr. LeBron James. Even the manliest American men are finally catching on to the health, fitness and general feel-good benefits of yoga. Case in point: Lululemon plans to open standalone men’s stores by 2016, and Broga, a nationwide chain of yoga-based classes geared toward men, has expanded to 15 states since it opened in 2009 and says there are more to come.

That said, last time we counted, women far outnumber men on the mat. Does your dad still need convincing that yoga is for bro-gis, too? In honor of Father’s Day, here are 4 reasons why your dad (and all dads) should be doing yoga, according to Dr. Loren Fishman, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Rehabilitation and Regenerative Medicine at Columbia Medical School in New York City and author of Yoga for Back Pain, who uses yoga in his NYC rehab practice.

1. It reduces stress.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men in the U.S. (it also strikes men at a younger age than women), and stress may affect behaviors and factors that are proven to increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating, according to the American Heart Association.

If the dad in your life suffers from stress (and who doesn’t?), a yoga mat could be the best Father’s Day gift you give him this year. Several studies suggest that yoga activates the vagus nerve—a very influential parasympathetic nerve affecting the heart—and so the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) becomes more dominant than the adrenalin-based sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), Dr. Fishman says. This reduces blood pressure and consequently the workload of the heart, he explains.

Suggested poses for reducing stress: Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend) and many other forward bends, which stimulate the internal organs, all of which have sensory connections to the vagus nerve, Dr. Fishman says.

2. It improves flexibility.

Men often complain about not being flexible enough, and just about every yoga pose works to improve joint range of motion and muscle suppleness. “I usually start men and women with poor ranges [of motion] with lots of props and standing poses like Trikonasana (Triangle), Warrior I and Warrior II, forward bends like Upavistha Konasana, and simple twists,” Dr. Fishman says.

But go easy on yourself, guys. “In men, the problem is that we often pit our greater strength against our reduced ranges of motion and hurt ourselves,” Dr. Fishman explains. “So patience, being kind to yourself and ahimsa (non-violence toward all living beings) are really quite important.”

3. It helps ease back pain.

Yoga’s ability to alleviate back pain is possibly its strongest swaying factor when it comes to winning converts, says Dr. Fishman, who adds that it’s about 80 percent successful in his medical practice. He recommends poses based on the patient’s specific condition—for example, Salabhasana (Locust Pose) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) for a herniated disc.

4. It may shrink that beer gut.

There are a number of yoga poses that stimulate the stretch-receptors in the stomach and duodenum (the first part of the small intestine between the stomach and middle part of the intestine), which helps turn off the appetite centers in the brain, Dr. Fishman says. Doing Warrior I, Warrior II or Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose) about 20 minutes before a meal usually reduces caloric intake, he claims. Also, getting better acquainted with your own anatomy and its workings often curtails the urge for that next helping of almost anything, Dr. Fishman adds. Something to consider before your Father’s Day barbecue!

Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman

How Trying NOT to Try Can Improve Your Yoga Practice

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Do you ever find yourself sailing through a pose that you usually struggle with, say balancing with ease in Tree or Warrior III? There’s a good chance that your sudden agility was because you really weren’t trying that hard.

According to Edward Slingerland, author of the new book Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity, which mines ancient Chinese thought for tips that can boost your performance anywhere from the yoga studio to a first date, the trick is less overt trying and more just being—in the zone, that is.

“We run into the paradox of trying not to try whenever we are consciously pursuing unselfconsciousness or spontaneity as a goal: we are essentially trying to use our conscious mind to shut our conscious mind down,” explains Slingerland, a professor of Asian Studies and Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition at the University of British Columbia.

It’s challenging, but if you can achieve this state of effortless action, which the ancient Chinese referred to as wu-wei (pronounced “ooo-way”), you just might find yourself making progress in all sorts of arenas that may have eluded you in the past, Slingerland says.

“[Wu-wei] refers to a state of total ease, in which you become completely lost in what you’re doing, feel no sense of exerting effort, and yet everything works out perfectly,” he explains. “When you are in wu-wei, you are maximally effective in the way you move through the world, and you emerge from the experience feeling relaxed and satisfied.”

This effect may extend to your social life as well. “We like spontaneous ease in others, and tend to trust and be attracted to those who exhibit it,” Slingerland says. “The early Chinese called this attractive aura de (pronounced “duh”), or ‘charismatic power.’”

Wu-wei sure sounds like something we would all want. But how do we get it?

According to the Chinese masters, there are four ways, Singerland explains.

“Carving and polishing,” or trying really hard until the trying falls away—like practicing Half Moon Pose every day until you no longer need that block under your bottom hand.

Forgetting or actively rejecting effort Deliberately rejecting any effort and trying to get in touch with basic, natural tendencies.

“Cultivating the sprouts,” or nourishing positive habits and tendencies within us. For instance, introspecting on a moment of genuine compassion and trying to extend this compassion to places where you should be feeling it but are not, e.g., the homeless person you pass every day on your way to work.

Letting go of conscious thought and getting fully present and carried away in the activity at hand.

“Typically when it comes to a skill like yoga, the ‘carving and polishing’ effort is required in the beginning, but then there’s a point where a letting go or forgetting needs to happen if one’s to really get into the zone,” Slingerland says.

In fact, “conscious striving” in a meditative practice like yoga can actually interfere with our ability to relax into the state we are seeking, he adds.

We’ll remember that next time we’re in Tree Pose.

 

— Jennifer D’Angelo Friedman