I just returned from a three day adventure into Stolle Meadows with two girlfriends, Audra and Carla.  We played around with some yoga in the snow, but mostly rested and enjoyed each others company and the beauty of winter in the woods.

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Published in: on January 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm  Comments (2)  
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Stinky Yoga Mat?

Isn't his doggy butt where my face was during yoga class the other day?

“My yoga mat is getting pretty smelly. How should I wash it?” This is a question I get a lot.  I have read in a number of sources that spraying and wiping your mat down routinely with a yoga mat cleaner is all you will need.  In my experience this is not true.  Spraying mats with cleaner can help extend the times between cleanings, but nothing beats a real bath for removing odors. Below you will find some basic guidelines for keeping your mat fresh.

  1. Regularly spray the mat down with a mat cleaner or highly diluted soap. If you use too much your mat will become slippery, so less is better.  Immediately wipe it dry with a clean towel.
  2. Whenever possible store your mat unrolled.  Over a towel bar works great. Even better is on a drying rack positioned over a heater vent (only if you have forced air heat….always keep mats away from direct sources of heat).
  3. Typical lightweight yoga mats can be run through a front load washing machine.  Use very little soap (tablespoon) and put several towels in with the mat. Set the machine on an extra spin cycle if possible.  Then you will want to put the mat in the dryer only if you can turn the heat completely off.  Heat free tumble dry for at least 60 minutes and then hang to dry.  The mat will usually take at least another 24 hours to dry depending on the humidity of the room.
  4. In the summer time let your mat bake in the sun to kill off smelly bacteria.
  5.  If you have a heavy duty professional series mat a good wipe down and occasional sun bath will usually be all you need.  When it does need a bath, a good hand washing in the bath tub is best.

Remember that washing your mat shortens it life and expensive specialty mats should only be washed according to manufacturers recommendations to get the longest life. With that said, I have used all of the techniques about and have never destroyed a mat.

A little teacher in us all.

No matter if you are a trained teacher or not you will experience teaching. Maybe you help a child tie their shoes, train a co-worker a new task or speak openly about challenging times.  Each encounter strives to communicate and shed light on knowledge.  I find Tsunesaburo Makiguchi‘s words on education extremely inspiring.

The essence of education is not to transfer knowledge; it is to guide the learning process, to put responsibility for study into the students’ hands. It is the bestowal of keys that allow people to unlock the vault of knowledge on their own. It does not consist of pilfering the intellectual property amassed by others through no additional effort of one’s own; it would rather place people on their own path of discovery and invention.

As one of my favorite teachers, Lori Tindall, says, “teaching is like being an usher…you hold the light so others can see.”


“I do not know just what it is that I am like. I wander about concealed and wrapped in thought.”



Published in: on January 19, 2012 at 1:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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you do yoga, yoga does not do you

There has been a lot of discussion about yoga and safety lately.  With the recent New York Times article, How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body,  students are lining up to ask how yoga might be hurting them.  As with any journalistic piece it is important to evaluate the validity of the claims.  What are the sources of information from which the author bases their claims?  Is the article opinion or fact based? If the conclusions are based on a few case studies, what are the ‘bigger pictures’ of the case studies used?  What are the credentials of the ‘experts’ used to back the conclusions?

Just like the study of yoga asks us to think deeply and be discerning, so is the nature of determining the value of information.  Mark Stephens states, “The idea that “yoga can wreck your body” reifies yoga – makes it into a thing that is given the power to affect other things (say, your body). But yoga is not a thing. Rather, yoga is a world of practices that one can do; you do yoga, yoga does not do you. Once one gets this basic idea, then it’s a simple step to realize that how one does yoga along with what sort of yoga one does will have different effects.”  (How Yoga Will Not Wreck Your Body)

Ultimately your approach to your practice will be the determining factor most responsible for the outcome of your efforts.  Listening intently to the messages from your body (also mind and spirit) is of utmost importance.  This is not just another esoteric thing yoga teachers say, this is the key to your safety and enjoyment gained from your practice.  Below I have provided some basic guidelines for a safe practice.

Basic Yoga Guidelines

Mental Focus

  • Focus on being non-judgmental  and accepting of yourself
  • Concentrate on feeling the breath
  • Be curious about your internal sensations


  • Slow, deep and even
  • Engage the diaphragm/feel the belly moving with the breath
  • Notice the expansion of the ribs with the breath


  • Be mindful  and attentive
  • Notice the subtle movements of the body even when holding a posture
  • Use your imagination to ‘become’ the posture from the inside to the outside


  • Long spine and chest broad
  • Shoulders down and back
  • Head over torso without chin jutting forward

Body Alignment

  • Solid foundation/connection to stability
  • Knees bend in line with toes  & Knee over ankle when bent in standing postures
  • Thighs and abdominals engaged in standing postures

Groups Settings

  • Practice tolerance, empathy and non-competiveness
  • Be supportive and encouraging
  • Focus on your experience on your mat

The Openness of the Beginner’s Mind

In beginner’s mind we have many possibilities, but in expert mind there is not much possibility.

~Shunryu Suzuki


Published in: on January 6, 2012 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Going with the flow…

Two weeks ago I finished packing for an adventure to Panama. We would be flying standby.  It is kind of like hitchhiking, but with airplanes. We knew that we may spend days in airports to get to our final destination therefore we decided to only pack one carry-on each.  This way we would at least have the luxury of brushing our teeth and changing our cloths whenever we needed.  Also our luggage wouldn’t end up in a destination beyond our reach. From a previous post you may know that due to our own fault we missed our first flight, but were able to hop onto the next flight going in the right direction. Unfortunately, our first delay was only one of many.  We weren’t able to get on a midnight flight out of Salt Lake City and spent the night in the airport.  We practiced a bit of yoga before curling up on the floor for a few hours of sleep.

Yoga in the SLC airport

Sleeping in the airport is a skill.

It was a relief to board the 6:30 am fight to Atlanta.  We were even rewarded with first class seating…from sleeping on the cold floor to heated moist towels and mimosas is quite a jump.We landed in Atlanta with tons of excitement about our final plane into Panama. Five hours later as we sat at the airport gate we discovered the standby list had eighteen people on it and we were numbers sixteen and seventeen.  When the plane took off we were numbers seven and eight.  Since the flight to Panama only leaves once every 24 hours we decided to get creative.  Three flights a day leave for Costa Rica, so we figured we had three times the chances of getting into Central America via Costa Rica.  Once there we could cross over the border into Panama via a bus.  This plan is evidence of our unwavering positive attitude and the effects of eating too much airport food.

The Delta gals, in Atlanta, were amazed by our friendly disposition in light of our travel challenges.  They even got us a hotel for the night.  The bed was outrageously comfortable and I awoke with new hope.  I knew I would never make a living as a fortune teller as I watched yet another missed flight disappear into the distance.  Mid-day we were still grounded and we decided to reevaluate our options after refueling in the food court.  Between Stu and I we downed coffee, a fruit smoothie, veggie wrap, squash soup and of course donuts!  OK, now we were primed for clear thinking.

It was time to make some drastic decisions….we were in Atlanta, if we rented a car where could we go?  As we discussed the possibilities we realized several realities. One, we were not going to make it to Central America in 2011. Two, we were going to have to forfeit our deposits to our Panamanian accommodations. Thirdly, and most important, we had all our luggage with us, the sun was shining and our time was our own for the next two weeks!  We just couldn’t get too down in light of that grand reality!

Then it hit us, our close friend Louie moved to Florida almost two years earlier and we hadn’t seen him since.  Keep in mind when Louie lived in Boise he was a part of our daily lives. So we jumped on a flight to Tampa with no hitches.  We walked out of the Tampa airport and breathed unfiltered air for the first time in three days.  Less than an hour later Louie greeted us with open arms and tears in his eyes.

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The days that followed were full of sunshine and true friendship.  We biked through the Florida jungle, kayaked in alligator swamps (we saw one way too close) and went sailing on the bay.  Best of all was seeing our friend so happy in his new life and being welcomed with such love and generosity.

Stu and I flew home without any problems (guess it is harder to get out of Idaho than it is to get in).  We spent the last days of 2011 being as sloth-like as possible.  Our trip may not have gone at all like we planned, but it turned out better than we could have ever hoped.  With every challenge we rose to the occasion with resilience and hope.  What more could we ask for?

Sailing with Stu

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Published in: on January 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment