Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Giving Props! Yoga Props, That Is.....

Meet Angela of Inner Space Yoga. She is one of the most vibrant and interesting yoginis with a passion for creating yoga props. To my utter joy and excitement we will be collaborating on a giveaway for the new year and I asked her to tell us a little more about herself, her journey into creating yoga props and what yogini she would love to hang with if she were stranded on a desert island. :)

Angela says:

"I came to yoga several years ago, as a way to de-stress from my job in healthcare.  I fell in love with the practice, and had the good fortune to connect with some excellent teachers here in Asheville - Cindy Dollar, Stephanie Keach, and Shala Worsley.  Cindy and Stephanie planted the seeds that would eventually grow into my bolster making business.  Stephanie, upon learning that I liked to sew (I'm a quilter), asked if I'd like to offset the cost of my teacher training by re-covering her studio bolsters.  She had 35 bolsters at that time, from several different sources.  While making the covers, I had a chance to dissect the bolsters to see how they were made and which materials and methods held up the best.  She and Cindy then suggested I try my hand at making my own bolsters.  So I sourced my own materials, made many prototypes, and eventually came up with the three main designs I offer now.  I got into zafu making a bit later, when I had lots of requests for colorful zafus to match the bolsters.  I am fortunate that I live in the South, which has made sourcing batting and fabric a bit easier, due to the number of textile mills here.

I do what I do because it gives me great joy.  And, I think, makes others happy as well.  People these days are all stressed out, and don't know how to relax properly - I admit to being one of them.  I like to think I'm doing my part to de-stress America.  And put a smile on people's faces while they're relaxing. Because, as you may know, it's more relaxing to smile than it is to frown.  LOL!

And how did I come to yoga? I feel I was called to it. I just had the urge to start doing it, and was delayed in actually starting it because I worked so much.  But I finally showed up, connected with some wonderful teachers and members of the local Asheville yoga community, and the rest is history.  It has become my passion and the primary focus of my life.

Hmmm... the desert island thing.  That's a tough one.  I'd have to say my friend/mentor Stephanie Keach, of Asheville Yoga Center here in town.  We're both total yoga geeks - love to read about yoga and talk about its nuances and debate which style has more to offer.  Our styles of practice are complementary. We like music to practice by, and have the same taste in tunes. She knows how to make practice fun, yet remains serious about alignment (which is something I'm a stickler for as well) and, when we're done with yoga, we could hang out on the beach and read and drink umbrella drinks. I'm convinced that she and I fought together in Durga's army, many many lifetimes ago.

You can find Angela's beautiful selection of yoga props including bolsters, eye pillows and zafus here. Stay tuned as we will be giving away a specially made zafu for the new year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Enlightenment...So Easy A Baby Can Do It.


As many of you know I love to call my daughter my little guru. She has taught me more about my path than anything else in the world.

As I was watching her play the other day I realized I was witnessing something I have been seeking myself for a long while... pure bliss. Her pure bliss. She danced playfully in the sun in our living room one morning. Every movement seemed to be an exploration of her joy. Every muscle was working yet fully relaxed. She was giggling only in a way that she can giggle....part laugh, part cackle. She kept bending over to peek her head through her legs upside down. That was when I realized I was witnessing something totally magical. I realized what she was showing me all along.

I thought to myself- What if I were to look at everything as if it were new, or a game, or something pleasurable to explore? What if I smiled at inanimate objects and touched everything that looked interesting? What if I smiled at strangers more? Laughed at everything I could? What if I fell a lot and didn't think twice about it? Or danced any way my soul felt like it needed to? What if I gave kisses whenever the mood struck me? What if I took the greatest pride in the tiniest things I had done? What if I got closer to people? What if I hugged more? What if I had no concept of time? What if I took the time to pick up the little things on the ground? What if.....

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Mantra is Stale. Do You Offer Exchanges?

I call the it the plateau. It happens to the best of us, especially in the beginning.When I began meditating I ran into this plateau and thought- I can't be the only one!

Does this sound familiar?
First, you gently ease into our meditation space, light the incense, and comfortably seat yourself. Taking great care, you take our mala from its pouch, remind yourself of beautiful intentions and begin your japa and nothing. This old friend that first inspired you, called to you, even walked around with you all day while you did our dishes, brushed your teeth, focused you on stillness and awareness somehow feels....dare I say it?.....stale.

We can often struggle as our minds wander into the abyss of swirling thoughts. This mantra feels off, it must be this mantra. Maybe, just maybe I should be working with a new one. Maybe if I tried Ganesh instead he would aid me in overcoming certain obstacles. Maybe "On Namah Shivaya" will bring the transformation I need. Or....

Maybe it needs to be worked through. Maybe that is the lesson. Maybe the very expectation of clarity needs to be let go, tossed in with the before-mentioned swirling abyss and simply witnessed.  Meditating isn't the clarity, it is the journey to the clarity. The mantra is your vehicle. Watch the scenery as you drive through, stay in the car and keep riding towards your destination. You may or may not reach it in this life, but isn't the landscape just lovely? 

The remedy? Don't exchange it!!!
Be kind to yourself. Let the thoughts come and let the thoughts go. Let them tease. Smile kindly as you would to a naughty child. Stick to your mantra. Don't give in! Say it with all the love in your heart. Very often we give up just before we are about to succeed. Soon you will find the plateau crumbling, your are free falling,

Original Artwork by Bevin Valentine Photography

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Handamde Yogini - Earth Mama

This little collection is for all of you Earth Mamas out there! People have a terrible habit of convincing new moms that they need all kinds of things when they have a baby. I think you just need a nice set of bangles and something for your babe to wear. :) Ok, maybe a few more things.......but wouldn't it be nice..... 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Handmade Yogini - Gifts of the Heart

It can be challenging during the holidays to keep focused on what really matters. There are tons of sales encouraging you to spend, advertisements to increase your sense of urgency, flashing words that suggest you need something...some...thing. This thing, That thing. Anything!

It can also be challenging running a shop during these times and still feel genuine. I have to say I love to give. I do giveaways for that reason. My hope is that some one who might not be able to afford one of my malas will win one. My goal is to meet other like-minded people, hear their ideas, thoughts, and passions. One of the things I never expected when I opened my accounts on social networking sites is how many amazing, sincere, inspiring people I would befriend. I love to create and I love to share. I feel blessed to be able to make malas and know that that are going to extraordinary people. It is a privilege!

So I thought I would share some gifts ideas created by some of those folks who I am proud and honored to be friends with as well as share ideas that are not necessarily bought in a store. Maybe you have thought of them, maybe you haven't, but my goal is to remind you (and myself!) that a gift does not need to come in a box. The thought is truly what counts, and to know some one thought of you, can sometimes be the most heartwarming and delightful!

Just a few ideas:

What about a long letter to a close friend about how special they are? It is easy to forget to say how much all those little things mean to you each day. Write it by hand on beautiful stationery.....better yet, a small journal that spans a few weeks/months with a note about something you appreciated each day.

What about the busy roomate, or lover that just doesn't seem to make time for themselves? Perhaps clearing a special place for them to sit and meditate or read. Find items that are inspiring to place nearby, a comfortable zafu, blanket or even tea.

For your spouse or lover....there is nothing more lovely than coming home one day to the unepxected. Run a bath, lay out candles or their favorite incense.  Have a new soap nearby and a favorite book. Tell them you'll watch the kids while they soak.

What about a friend or relative who may be interested in taking better care of themselves and thinks they don't have time to do it? Tell them they can and they deserve to. If they are interested, offer them a mini instruction on how to meditate or simply focus on the breath for a few minutes. At the end of the discussion hand them a mala just for them.

I would love to know the best "gift" you have ever received as well as your own creative ideas for giving.
Wishing all a beautiful holiday season!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Time and time again I look to this video for inspiration. Instead of focusing on the negative, I realize all that my body and soul can do each time I watch it. There is so much potential in each of us!

Many of you have seen this video but I just had to share it. For those who have not, enjoy!!