Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yoga Ball = Computer Chair

This week I decided to switch out my regular computer chair with my Yoga Ball. I decided to do this mostly because my body is incredibly sore from dance rehearsals this week and slouching in a regular chair proved to be more uncomfortable than relaxing. The Yoga Ball I am using is a silver 75cm ball from (of course!).

YogaMaendy on her Yoga Ball

At first I thought I'd get tired of sitting on the thing, but that never happened. I feel like I have been sitting with perfect posture the whole time I am working, and it is even great to take a little break now and again to do some Pilates on the Ball while I am working, because well, why not! I also enjoyed being able to bounce whenever I feel like it, and that is always fun to break up the big tedious projects I have going on.

Since I work at, I don't have any co-workers really giving me weird looks because of the ball, but one of the newer employees asked me all sorts of questions about it. He wanted to know if it was weird to be sitting on something that could "oscillate" all over the place. Yes, he used the word oscillate! So I told him the ball is supposed to move around, and when it moves, your abs have to work extra hard so you can stay balanced on the ball. He then asked if he could try sitting on it, and as soon as he did, he fell right into me! Guess it takes a little practice to sit on a ball.

If you'd like to sit at a ball at your own desk, I suggest getting a size or two up from the ball you'd normally get to work out with. I think any ball within the 75cm-85cm range will work best. We have a pretty good selection of Yoga Balls at, of course, so go get one for yourself and start sitting with perfect posture at your desk every day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jumping Off Rocks

I have been planning on going to Enders Waterfall in Granby, Connecticut with friends for about three weeks now, but something has always come up. This weekend, however, I finally ended up going! My friends had been there before and had told me all sorts of exciting stories about sliding down the waterfalls and jumping off cliffs into the water and I was dying to try it myself.

We got off to a late start, but we hiked down to the falls by about 2:30pm, and it was definitely still hot out, even when we were shielded by the woods. However, because there hadn't been any substantial rainfall the past week, it wasn't safe enough for us to slide down because the water level was so low. We hiked to a different spot where there were 3 different level cliffs where we could jump off into the water.

First level Cliff
This was the shortest cliff...the first one I jumped off of.

Jumping off cliffs into water always sounds like a fun thing to do...until you are actually standing at the edge of the cliff. The lowest rock ledge you could jump off was about 10 feet from the water, so of course I tried that one first. My friend Amy (also a newby) shook at the edge with me for about 10 minutes before we got up enough courage to actually jump off. It's so strange how even though you know you will be perfectly safe jumping because you will be landing in a nice, deep pool of water, it still takes a while for your brain to shut off and just let your body act. I mean, other people were doing flips off this ledge, so why can't I just step off? And of course before i jumped off that first one I had to calm my breathing, and before I knew it I had landed in the cool water!

After feeling like I could do ANYTHING because I had jumped that first ledge, I decided to try the second, higher level. This one was about 15-20 feet high, and there was a bush in the way of the jump. This one made me the most nervous because you had to make sure you jumped in a certain spot or you'd land on some rocks below. Yes I know, very safe! But after a little chickening out, I jumped, and landed on the water with my backside. It created a large red mark on me for a bit, but it was fun!

View from the Second Highest Cliff
This is the view from the second highest cliff.

After that second jump, it was time to climb to the highest cliff. This one was definitely the scariest because it was so high (about 25-30 feet from the water below) and my friends were saying that when you are falling, you have some hang time in the air before you hit the water. In other words, while you are falling, you have time to realize that you are a crazy person! Needless to say it took me 10 minutes of chickening out before I stopped shaking enough to jump. Looking down the edge of the cliff 8,000 times before I attempted didn't really help much. It's such a crazy feeling to jump off of something that high. And it is a little mind blowing as well because while you know that it is perfectly safe, you brain knows that jumping off cliffs is not something it is used to. Your body almost goes into panic mode! I had to take a few steps backwards to give myself a running start because if I kept looking down to the water below, I never would have taken the jump. And let me tell you, you do get a bit of time falling through the air before you hit the water. It was completely exhilarating!

The View Down
This is the view down standing on the tallest cliff.

So while this post is not about Yoga, I thought the experience in itself was much like going through a very strenuous Yoga class. Sometimes for your body to grow you just need to shut off your mind and go for it. Once you step off the edge of that cliff, you can do anything!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Size Mat Should I Get?

My entire body is completely sore from dance rehearsal this week. The company director has been giving us Horton technique in our warmups this week, and it is one of the most strenuous sets of exercises ever! My Sun Salutation this morning felt extra great because I got to stretch out all my aching muscles. I love Yoga!

Working at, we get a lot of questions from customers looking to purchase certain items we sell on our site. One of the most popular questions asked is regarding what size mat is best for Yoga class. Choosing a Yoga mat, in my opinion, is a very personal decision. Because a Yoga mat acts as a barrier (and personal space) between yourself and the ground, it needs to provide you with enough cushioning, traction, and protection for your own body to safely and efficiently practice Yoga. When choosing a Yoga mat, you should consider its length, thickness, and width.

Your Yoga mat should be proportional to the size of your body. Standard sized Yoga mats work for Yogis under 6ft tall. If you are taller than 6ft, you should consider purchasing an extra long Yoga mat (see one here at There is nothing worse than going to relax in Savasana, only to find that your head or feet are hanging off the end of your mat.

As far as thickness of the mat goes, I always say that it depends on the floor you practice on, as well as the type of Yoga you do. For instance, Bikram Yoga studio floors tend to be carpeted (yucko for mildew), so you may prefer purchasing a 1/8" thick mat (see one here at because you won't need the extra cushioning. However, if your class is held on bare floor, you might want a thicker 1/4" mat (see one here at Also, if you have knee or back problems, having an extra thick mat will be ideal, because it will provide you with extra support in kneeling or laying postures.

Finally, when it comes to the width of the mat, that all depends on how much personal space you are looking for. If you go to a crowded studio, it is always nice to have a wider mat (see one here at on hand if you don't like smooshing up really close to the Yogi next to you. Color is also something to think about when choosing a new Yoga mat. If it is your first time in class and you are a bit modest, it's probably best to stick with a neutral or darker colored mat. For myself, however, I prefer brighter mats because they energize me. The one is use at the moment in my Bikram Yoga class is the 1/4" thick Zen Green Yoga Mat from You can get one by clicking here.

All in all, choosing a Yoga mat is a very personal decision and is totally left up to you. You are, after all, the ruler of your own personal space!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yoga in Sin City

I just got back from being in Las Vegas for the ASD/AMD Trade Show. It was a general merchandise trade show, and our booth was sandwiched in between a fleece blanket vendor and a tobacco pipe vendor (not very zen :) We were there to mostly get people introduced to our company, and to hopefully educate new and existing businesses about the benefits of Yoga and its impact in the health and fitness world.

My colleage Kristen and I were very successful at getting people to at least look at our booth, which is the hardest task at a trade show. We did so by replacing the chairs the show provided us at our booth with Yoga balls. We bounced on those things for 8 hours straight for four days, and not only was it fun, we worked our abs as well! Many people stopped by and we talked to them about Yoga, Pilates, and all the equipment and props we sell. Most people told us we had the most fun booth in the whole show! We handed out tons of brochures and met a lot of really great people. All in all I think the trade show was a success...and Las Vegas was pretty fun too!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Watching Excerise TV

Last night at rehearsal, we started off doing some Horton technique for warm up (Horton is the technique the Alvin Ailey Dance Company uses). Before we started, myself and the other dancers vowed to make a more conscious effort to breathe through the movements, rather than accidentally holding our breath. This time around, it was a bit easier for me, and I did discover that when I was doing incredibly strenuous things like lateral side bends and flat back extensions, I didn't squeal and moan during them because I was so focused on matching my breath up with what my body was doing. I caught it, and everything seemed easier! I am going to keep this breathing up from now on in rehearsal.

Last night when I got home, I sat down in front of the TV. I am not much of a television watcher, but I had some time to kill before bedtime and decided to shut off my brain. That was, until I discovered "Exercise TV," a special feature that lets you choose exercise programs to watch whenever you'd like. So I perused through the short list of fitness choices. Among them were a few cardio classes, some short ten minute workouts, and of course 2 Yoga workouts, and a 10 minute Pilates core strengthening class. I chose to do the 10 minute Pilates class, which was labeled a Beginner class.

Unfortunately, I left my mat in my car, so I ended up just laying down on my hardwood floors. Yes, I know it is not the best thing for my back, but I am pretty good at slowly rolling down one vertebrae at a time, and I am a pretty tough cookie, so hard surfaces don't bother me much. I made it through the short class easily, and the Instructor was pretty good at explaining everything (It was pretty much a basic ab series), but I feel that the fast paced nature of the workout might have been a little too much for beginners. Especially for beginners who are completely new to Pilates who are unfamiliar with correct Pilates positions. All in all though, I will be trying to do a new workout every day just because it is so convenient!

Speaking of convenient, has a TON of Yoga, Pilates, and Movement DVD's and CD's that allow you to bring your practice into the privacy and comfort of your own home. You can check them out by clicking here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Harder Than I Thought!

Before rehearsal started last night I told the other dancers about my breathing experiment, and Meghan decided to participate as well. I was happy for this because we ended up reminding each other to breathe throughout the night. It was harder than I thought! I usually started off breathing fine, then I'd forget and fall back into my old patterns. Meghan had similar problems. I am trying it again tonight because I am convinced that with practice, I will be able to unconsciously breathe deeper when I dance.

The times I did consciously breathe however, I found that the movements I was doing flowed a lot better than they usually do. So far so good!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Taking a Deeper Breath

I have to admit, I really haven't been to a Yoga class in over two weeks, but I haven't stopped stretching, and at least getting one round of Sun Salutation in every day. I have been spending all my free time doing all of the fun outdoor activities you can do in the summer. This past week, for instance, I went hiking and canoeing. Who can turn that down?

I have, however, been keeping up with the breathing experiment i proposed in my last post. I was trying to see if Pranayama breathing and warming up my lungs before dancing would help me perform better during rehearsals. Yesterday was my first time, and I felt that if I tried to do the breathing while I was in the dance studio, the other dancers would be a little freaked out. Instead, I did a set of about 20 good deep breaths in my car on my way to rehearsal.

When I stepped out of my car, I did feel a bit more energized. However, as rehearsal went on, I didn't really notice if I had any sort of change in performance. What I did notice is how often I hold my breath when I dance! This is very bad!

So, tonight in rehearsal I am going to make an effort to pay attention to my breath and how I can use it while I dance. I always talk about breath being linked to movement, but most of the time, I completely forget. I read a while ago that most people are guilty of weak and shallow breathing, and that it's a good idea to try to re-teach yourself how to breathe to get the most out of everything you take in, as well as everything you release. For dance (and Yoga), breathing is very important. I will write a new post tomorrow after I have correctly breathed in rehearsal tonight!