That Yoga Glow

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For whatever reason, Mother Nature has given Southern Ontario (and places nearby) a very wet Spring!  Are you in one of those rainy areas too?

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My umbrella gets lots of use lately. ;)

We’ve had steady rain for the past 5 days and there is more rain due for 3 out of 5 days in the week ahead.

Despite this weather, the rain doesn’t really bother me as much lately, which is pretty strange because I tend to always feel a dip in my mood when it rains.

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Today, I realized that I have yoga to thank for my improved mood!

I started going to Moksha’s hot yoga classes on May 7th and I fell in love with it (read all about my first class here). I’ve been to about 11 classes now and I just can’t get enough. I’m really getting my money’s worth with my unlimited $40 intro monthly pass! I really wish I had tried this ages ago. I also think it would have helped me beat my Winter blues too.

“Moksha Hot Yoga was founded in Toronto, Canada in 2004 by yoga teachers Ted Grant and Jessica Robertson. Though a relative newcomer, Moksha has quickly gained popularity as over 30 affiliated studios have since opened worldwide, including in Canada, the United States, Switzerland, and the Caribbean. The Moksha method is a set series of about 40 poses done in a hot room. Moksha has strict "green" standards for keeping their studios environmentally friendly, including using sustainable building materials and natural cleansers. They are also committed to offering weekly low-cost classes with the money donated to locate charities and karma yoga opportunities to keep yoga classes more accessible.” [source]

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From time to time, I wonder where the inflexible girl who hated yoga DVDs disappeared to. Well, I’m still here, but now I’ve found a style of yoga that clicks with me. And I’m so grateful that I have because I always felt like there was a missing piece to my fitness puzzle.

Like with most things, I don’t think hot yoga is for everyone (in fact, if you have health problems, such as a heart condition, it’s advised you do not take part), but I’m more convinced that there is a style of yoga that almost anyone can enjoy. You just have to find the right style that meshes with your personality and do what works for you.

The word Moksha means ‘Freedom’, which is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately. Freedom from anxiety, busy thoughts, tight muscles, and day-to-day ‘noise’.

Moksha Characteristics:

  • Poses are traditional asanas (I heard there are about 40 yoga positions used)
  • You are encouraged to set an intention (in your mind) at start of class
  • Emphasis is on deep breathing, enhancing flexibility, and balance
  • Breath-synchronized movements – the teacher will instruct you to move from one pose to the next on an inhale or an exhale.
  • Several classes are offered: Moksha, Moksha Flow, Flow, and LYM.
  • Classes range from 60-90 minutes (75 min is my sweet spot!)
  • The pace is quick and heart rate is elevated throughout class
  • Room is heated to 37 Celsius
  • Instructors will often do gentle adjustments, if its ok with you (personally I appreciate occasional adjustments because they help me find proper form)
  • Instructors have the flexibility to slightly adapt each class, so no class is the same
  • Friendly to beginners (trust me on this one!)
  • Savasana (lying flat on the mat and focusing on breath) occurs at the start of class, middle class, and at the very end.
  • There are a couple minutes of intense ab work during the floor series.
  • It is a great workout if you want it to be and you push yourself. My muscles are often sore after classes!

 

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After just 11 classes, I’ve noticed an improvement in my focus, muscle tone, breathing, flexibility, posture, and balance. I feel strong, aware, peaceful, and happier than I have in a long time. Eric tells me that my skin feels incredibly soft, which is an added bonus from all that salty sweat exfoliating the skin. I also love the class atmosphere…the energy from the room is really contagious and a yoga DVD just can’t compare in my mind.

Even though I love hot yoga, I won’t be giving up cardio anytime soon (I’ve still been sticking with running/walking/elliptical about 5 days a week), but I feel like they compliment each other perfectly.

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What I like to eat beforehand:

I’ve been experimenting with different foods before classes to find what works best for me. For my first class, I had a freshly made juice, but the juice was not enough energy for me to sustain a class and I felt very weak. I also tried various full-sized breakfasts with mixed results, sometimes feeling too full during class.

Lately, what works for me is eating 1 large banana and drinking 1 glass of V8 juice about 40 minutes before a class. Each time I have this snack, I have no weakness during class. I also make sure to drink lots of water before (starting the day before), during, and after class. It’s important to find that sweet spot where you aren’t too full, but you still have lots of energy for the class. If I take a long 90 minute class, I often have a medjool date or two in addition to this snack.

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What I like to eat afterwards:

I crave water-based foods like vegetables, fruit, and big salads following a hot yoga class. Lately, I’ve been craving Green Monsters (made with coconut water for electrolytes), salads, veggie & hummus plates, Ezekiel bread/crackers, and Gazpacho.

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I’m also newly obsessed with Nature’s Path Kamut Puff cereal thanks to Ange. I’ve been enjoying it with almond milk, ABU, fruit, and a bit of cinnamon. Cold and refreshing.

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What I bring to class:

  • Reusable tote bag for carrying belongings
  • Align Ultra Lululemon yoga mat (I’m not really a fan of this mat because it is slippy! Anyone recommend any good non-slip mats?)
  • 1 large bath towel (to place on mat)
  • 1 small face towel (to wipe sweat)
  • Sigg water bottle
  • Keys, license, $20, yoga pass card
  • Zip up jacket for before and after class (I shower at home)

 

My impression after 11 classes:

I feel like yoga is improving the relationship I have with myself. I used to be a skeptic when I heard that about yoga, thinking it wouldn’t apply to me. I was wrong! Yoga is just what I need in my life to help me center myself and thoughts. I have an anxious personality by nature, and yoga is therapy for my busy mind that never stops.

I’ve been excited not only by the changes I see (like toned muscles or improved flexibility), but feel in myself. I feel like yoga is the missing piece of the puzzle to my growth as an individual. I’m excited to explore yoga in many of its forms and styles down the road.

~~~

What’s your yoga experience? Love it, hate it? What styles have you tried and do any click or not click with you? What do you eat (or not eat) before a class?

[By the way, this review is not paid or sponsored by Moksha or anyone else. It’s just my personal experience, as always!] 

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{ 179 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Cook May 19, 2011

I know this may be a silly question, but what do you wear to the class? In such a hot environment, I would think you would want to wear as little as possible, but I always see people in pics in yoga pants! What keeps you comfortable and gives you the flexibility you need?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 19, 2011

Many people do wear yoga pants, but I would find that too hot. I wear Lululemon shorts and a tank. :)

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JenATX May 23, 2011

i realized recently that my yoga pants were entirely see through when i bent over.. awkward

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Valerie May 19, 2011

Shorts are definitely cooler, but pants sometimes help you hold poses better. Your skin gets slippery when you sweat so poses that rely on skin contact with your thighs or knees can get clumsy! I found that capris worked well for me!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 19, 2011

yea I totally agree with that! My hands slip with shorts.

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Jackie @ Baking Charms May 19, 2011

i feel the same way about my vinyasa and ashtanga yoga classes. i leave the class feeling like a completely different person! it’s the only thing that’s ever helped my anxious mind

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Julie @ Shining From Within May 19, 2011

I love vinyasa yoga but I would love to try hot yoga some day. I love how flexible I feel after yoga and how strong and powerful I feel physically and mentally. I feel like I can conquer the world! I would usually just drink lots of water + some small fruits. We have been getting non stop rain here too! Luckily, I see the sun peaking out now..

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Gina @Runningtothekitchen May 19, 2011

I live in southern NY and the rain is ridiculous here too. It is starting to affect my mood though! I enjoy vinyasa yoga, but have been wanting to try out a hot yoga class forever. I really need to make that happen soon. So glad you’re enjoying your experience so much.

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Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food May 19, 2011

It has been raining for the past 6 days and we are supposed to get more rain for the next three! I am the same way you are and feel like my mood is definitely down when it’s raining! I’m ready for some sun! Also, I’m glad to see that somebody else out there likes to drink V8! I have always been in love with it! :-)

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Emmanuelle May 19, 2011

*happy dance for you*
I can’t tell, I am biased, being almost done with my yoga teacher training ;)

Apart from the physical benefits, yoga has been a real self-discovery journey, and I’ve blossomed.

I am so happy for you that you found your happy style, there is a yoga style for everyone, I agree with you!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 19, 2011

My Moksha experience is the same as yours Ange! I love how it makes my body feel and I notice benefits (less muscle soreness, better posture, more energy) almost instantly!! I can’t wait to go again because my body is kinda screaming for it these days after having logged so many hours at my desk at work. My pre and post yoga eats are similar to yours. Green monsters always get me charged and ready to go, and lots of fresh fruit and veggies! :)

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Peggy @ freshnutrition.net May 19, 2011

Love hot yoga!! I feel so loosey goosey after, I wish I could stop falling over in Dancer’s or Tree pose, but they are so friendly to beginners, the teachers always come over to help.

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Nienke at Revel May 19, 2011

I’ve been very curious about hot yoga for a long time now but I’ve been too intimidated to go to a studio… so now I’m “dragging” one of my girlfriends with me and we are getting our first monthly pass tomorrow. I am SO excited and I hope I love it as much as you do!

PS. Love your red umbrella!

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Brandi @ The Vitamin Bee May 19, 2011

I’m so happy to read about your positive hot yoga experience!
I fell in love with hot yoga about a year ago and I havent looked back.

I use a Manduka Black Mat Pro. It’s heavy (about 7lb) but the surface is fairly sticky and I can make it through most of class without having to put my yoga towel on top. I also use Mandukas eQua Yoga Towel. When it gets wet, it doesnt slip at all.

I dont eat before an AM hot yoga class. If I absolutely need to have something, I’ll have a banana or a handful of almonds. Before an afternoon class, I eat fruit!

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Jen @ keepitsimplefoods.com May 19, 2011

We have had a super rainy spring here in Washington, D.C. It’s crazy! But I kind of like those rainy days.

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Jessica May 19, 2011

Your best bet is getting a yogitoes mat to put over your mat because that will stop sliding on any mat you use, whether you’re borrowing from your studio or you’re breaking in a new mat that you buy. Otherwise, I really like Jade yoga mats and Kulae yoga mats, both of which come in awesome colors and styles. Hope this helps!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) May 19, 2011

thanks for the suggestion!

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Lucy May 19, 2011

I second the endorsement for the Jade mats — I also like the Manduka eKo series (made of natural rubber like Jade mats, to my recollection) — in my experience both Jade and the Manduka eKo mats work EXTREMELY well with the Manduka eQua towel, which is both cheaper than the yogitoes, and provides more grippiness through a hot class than the yogitoes (however, I’ve also found that yogitoes grips non-natural-rubber mats better than the Manduka eQua).

. . . . YOGA!!! :)

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j May 19, 2011

try the lulu mat called “the mat” (i think) from lulu! its kinda stinky like rubber at first, buti have been practicing hot vinyasa yoga for years and you dont even need a towel! its AMAZING

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Keri May 19, 2011

I once interviewed for a part-time job at lululemon. Part of the interview was going to a yoga class, which I thought was awesome, until I realized I was not nearly advanced enough to be in that class… when the teacher came over to ask if I wanted to try a full headstand, I realized I was not getting that job! I do like yoga (even though I was sore for a week after that class), but I am a cardio queen through and through.

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Therese May 19, 2011

I became a fan of Moksha after my first time! I felt so cleansed and jello-y afterwards! I haven’t had the chance to make it a regular part of my exercise regimine but I’m really wanting to see what I can do over the summer!

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Holly @ The Runny Egg May 19, 2011

I do some yoga/glorified stretching at home and I would love to go to a studio and get some real instruction/guidance but I haven’t found a place close to home that fits in my schedule. I love how I feel after stretching and I know I should put more effort into finding a place for me.

I’m glad you found what makes you feel best!

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Christabel May 19, 2011

I LOVE that you are so into yoga right now. I’m also on a new yoga journey right now! I’ve done about ~10 classes in the last month. I haven’t done hot yoga yet but I can’t wait to try it. I am feeling so many of the same benefits you are, including less stress, better posture, and way less aches and pains.

I eat black mission figs and a banana w/ pb before I do yoga. I know you’re supposed to go in on an empty stomach but I just can’t. I burn out.

I’ve heard good things about Lululemon’s other yoga mat “The Mat” and Manduka makes a great one. I guess they’re more sticky so you have better grip once you start to sweat.

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Bridget May 19, 2011

I live hot vinyasa. I have been practicing for about a year and a half and it’s changed my life! Next month I start teacher training?

Lululemon has new amazing mats. I don’t slip ever! Worth every penny (but still cheaper than a manduka).

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table May 19, 2011

I keep trying various type of yoga, but I can’t get into it. I wish I could – my muscles/joints would love it!

After any cardio I crave green monsters – there’s nothing more refreshing after a sweat-session than a cool, spinach-laced drink.

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Radha May 19, 2011

You truly are a kindred spirit. I have been doing yoga on and off for years now. I was heart sick when I couldn’t be a runner (foot problem) and yoga was what my body could do. I also had to face the fact that I am older, not in my twenties. All the bloggers that I have been reading are runners. Now my favorite blogger is ‘my yoga buddy’ I am so happy.
There truly are great things we learn while on the mat that can be applied to life off the mat XO

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Mikayla May 19, 2011

I do Power yoga, which sounds similar to your Moksha yoga. I use a Yogitoes mat that I swear by. It is basically a super absorbent towel with non slip nubbies on the bottom. I put this over a cheap basic yoga mat for more support.

I got it on Amazon for about $40(US). Here is the link:
http://www.amazon.com/Yogitoes-Skidless-Premium-Size-Towel/dp/B000SQDI3C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305812575&sr=8-1
The towel itself is slippery until it gets wet, so at the beginning of class I’ll splash a little water on where my hands and feet are for downward dog, since that’s the pose we do the most.

Glad to hear you’ve found a yoga you love!

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Claire @ Live and Love to Eat May 19, 2011

The only yoga class I’ve tried was a bikram class, and I loved/hated it. It was intimidating to feel like the only person in the room who wasn’t a pro, but once my broken ankle/torn ligament is recovered, I plan on trying to go regularly.

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Chelsea May 19, 2011

I love Moksha!!! I used to go reguarly (at least 3 times a week) a couple years ago but our studio became VERY cramped, it was usually an hour wait inline outside the studio and once inside it was literally mat to mat, not too mention a lot of people that were going weren’t very “zen” since i think the overall situation made a lot of people grumpy. They opened up another studio and one in the suberbs so i tried it again last week and re-fell in love! It was much more the yoga experience i love! I too suffer from anxiety and find that after yoga i just feel so peaceful! with myself and those around me, and things dont’ seem to bother me as much! good for you for finding “your” yoga, i’ve definitely tried a few kinds (including bikram, another kind of hot yoga, similar to moksha) but would have to say moksha is where my heart is at when it comes to yoga!

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Sara May 19, 2011

Your yoga water bottle is adorable! I don’t think hot yoga is for me, and I generally struggle to enjoy yoga. I found Jillian Michael’s Yoga Meltdown awhile ago which I LOVE. It’s not your typical yoga, but it’s perfect for me and still feels more relaxing than my usual workouts.

I have been obsessed with that cereal for a long time. I always add it to other cereals. Makes you burp though huh? It’s all the air, lol :)

Enjoy the rainy weather, we’re getting it here too.

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Ellie@fitforthesoul May 19, 2011

those are great benefits! I didn’t think yoga would make such a great difference in toning, but I guess it depends on the kind of yoga it is as well.

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Andrea B. @ Vegvacious May 19, 2011

I love your photos with this post! I live in a rural community and there is no hot yoga near me :-( Many of my co-workers do it and love it, so I really should make more of an effort to try a class even once a week on the weekend when my schedule is more flexible. Your skin is looking great (you b-day dinner pic was gorgeous) ~ if I could get results like that it’s an even bigger incentive to make the effort to go!!

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kirsty (GYMBUNNYCOCO) May 19, 2011

I have that yoga mat too… but don’t use it… I have a few mats… but I find I had problems with slipping with so many so I bought some toe-sox socks and some toe-sox gloves and now I don’t slip at all cos they grip the mat really well x

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Nadine May 19, 2011

Love Moksha! It is amazing in the winter time and I find it perfectly complements running by stretching me all out. And it totally saved my sanity post ivf madness. Huge fan. And I’ve heard that the Moksha in your neck of the woods is one of the nicest…

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Lauren May 19, 2011

I’ve never heard of Moshka, but that’s cool that savasana happens during class instead of just at the end. I usually do power yoga, which is challenging and fast during class, but I always feel so relaxed at the end. I sometimes do yoga at home with videos, but it’s such a better experience during a class with a great instructor to adjust your poses and make inspiring comments.

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Paige is Running Around Normal May 19, 2011

I SO wish we had a hot yoga studio here in Normal. There’s not a single one!! Sounds like it’s treating you amazingly :)

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cathy May 19, 2011

i did ashtanga 2-4 times a week for a few years, but stopped a couple years ago when my life schedule changed. i really miss it. i can’t wait to try moksha; i have a free pass and the studio is in my ‘hood so my summer goal is to give it a try. i am going to predict i love it! (i love ashtanga because it follows a series, but always wished the room was hot).
thanks for all your feedback, angela! i am so happy that you’ve discovered a yoga that fits for you so well!

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Caitlin @ The Caitie Experiment May 19, 2011

I’ve run the gamut with my gym’s yoga classes, as well as DVDs. We have a variety of styles (Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa) at my gym, but I’ve found that the classes I enjoy the most are the ones taught by my favorite instructor. I initially started taking Pilates with her, and loved her methods — she’s French, and not afraid to make statements about “what Americans do differently” that might be considered a hindrance to our well-being (such as having a sense of shame about “imperfect” parts of our bodies, rather than embracing them!). I started taking her yoga classes (75 min), and loved how she doesn’t have one particular set style that she focuses on — one class, we will do a million sun salutations, the next, we’ll focus on breathing and form, the next, she puts us through an intense vinyasa class! I know a lot of people who don’t like it because it doesn’t seem “pure” to them, but I think you’re so right on with your statement that there are different styles of yoga (and instructors!) for everyone — you just have to find one you like!

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McKella May 19, 2011

I haven’t been to a yoga class in about a year, but I like yoga journal podcasts and solo practice at home. My experience with yoga has been all about learning to connect with and occupy my body because I rarely paid attention to it before. I love that I can tailor my practice to meet my specific needs and that it’s an entire philosophy, not just a workout.

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OutToLunchC May 19, 2011

I LOVE yoga but I’m not into the hot yoga because my body just can’t handle the heat. I really enjoy 90min power vinyasa classes inspired by ashtenga or Baptiste. I like to eat a medium sized protein filled meal 2 hours before the class; that way I’m done digesting but I’m never hungry during the class. I also drink a lot of water before class but I stop drinking about an hour before so that I don’t have to go to the washroom during class.

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Ellalinea May 19, 2011

Angela, this post is awesome!! I just posted a question on my blog regarding what people eat before a hot yoga class ( I do the 26 postures-90 min one, called Bikram yoga)..

I have the same problem, eating something too heavy and feeling not so good in class.. or eating too light and feeling a bit weak.. I will try your banana and medjool tip! Thanks so much!!

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ally@GirlVfood May 19, 2011

I had no idea Moksha originated from Canada! That’s awesome. And I’m glad you found a style of yoga that agrees with you. Once you find a variation you love, it can be addicting!

And kudos to you for finding the right kind of nutrition before class. I’m still trying to figure that one out myself…it’s hard because depending on the type of yoga you practice, you need an empty stomach in order to make the twists and bends more comfortable. However if you don’t eat before hot yoga you can feel tired/weak, like you said. I might try the v8 and banana trick!

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Valerie @ City|Life|Eats May 19, 2011

This was such a lovely post to read – SO glad that yoga is helping you. I have been practicing yoga going on 10 years, and agree with you that there are emotional as well as physical benefits. Even when I only did once a week, or skipped a week, I still found it helped. Right now I am going 4 to 5 times a week and am feeling amazing physical and emotional benefits as well :)

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carly May 19, 2011

i recommend jade yoga mats! they are super sticky – you definitely won’t slip! when i bought one just about a year ago it literally revolutionized my yoga practice because i was able to go so much deeper into poses without slipping around. they’re also eco-friendly.

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Hannah May 19, 2011

I have taken a few styles of yoga over the past year, but I recently started hot yoga. WOW! Hot yoga is so humbling.

I find myself laying there on my sweaty mat, with sweat running into my eyes and my hair completely frizzy, no make up on, thinking, “Wow, I’ve never seen myself like this before!”

Yoga is a great way to see what you are capable of. My body surprises me every day.

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Heather (heathers dish) May 19, 2011

I’ve liked everything that I’ve tried so far, and am now obsessed with hot yoga! I feel so peacefuL and beautiful afterwards :)

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Alaina Rose @ Sweetness of Life May 19, 2011

Yay! It sounds like you’re having such a wonderful yoga experience! I would recommend a Jade yoga mat. I just got one and I love it! My old mat wasn’t grippy enough either and my hands would always slip in downward dog. I love yoga <3 I've been practicing for almost 10 years. I'm not always consistent though! I've tried all different styles. Right now I go to a heated vinyasa flow studio or I just practice at home. I like vinyasa (breath-synchronized movement) because it reminds me to move through my life that way. One breath at a time, with mindfullness. It's like a beautiful dance! :-)

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