How to Properly Care for Your Yoga Mat

Regularly practicing Yoga has become a part of your life and you are now more intimate with your yoga mat than your spouse. Taking care of your mat is essential ensuring its longevity and performance and there is nothing more off-putting during a session than stretching into childs pose, face down on your mat and it has a funky smell or foot prints that had built up. What’s worse is if your mat starts loosing its grip. These can all be avoided by some basic cleaning and maintenance.

Quality Matters

When you first started out practicing yoga, if you were like me, you may have grabbed yourself a cheap mat from your local department store. These may be great for a back up but you will quickly find that you will be yearning a good quality yoga mat, as the cheap mats start to deteriorate and tear quite quickly, ending up as another piece of land fill. There are many environmentally friendly options for good quality mats available from natural rubber to cork. If you can find a good brand that is made near you, you can reduce the product miles as well.

yoga mat

A good mat is like a good sports bra, the better the quality the more support you have and the more you can push yourself without falling all over the place, if you know what I mean. So if you don’t have yourself a good mat yet I would strongly suggest making that investment. It will save you money and the environment in the long run.

How to Clean your Mat

Cleaning your mat doesn’t need to be a daunting job. Maintenance is done regularly it takes no time at all. Simply get a clean cloth and dampen with warm water. Wipe over your mat on both sides and let it dry after each use before you roll it up. If you feel your yoga mat needs a deeper clean then you can submerge it in warm water, in your bathtub with a small amount of mild detergent and gently wipe it with a cloth. Don’t use too much detergent as it may make your mat slippery if all the detergent isn’t rinsed off properly. That is not fun, believe me.

Lay it over a clothes drying rack in your bathtub or outside, out of direct sunlight, to dry fully.

It is that simple. Nothing special is required. But if you are like me and you want to make sure your mat is germ and fungus free then you may want to consider using specialized cleaner for your mat.

What can I use on my Yoga Mat??

There are some great cleaning products on the market designed specifically to clean your beloved yoga mat. It is well worth a couple of minutes to check the reviews on a product before you buy as you don’t wish to end up with one that leaves your mat sticky or slippery. There are also many environmentally friendly cleaners available, low scent, no scent and some that

If you like are like me and love to make your own Eco friendly cleaners, you can make your own cleaner spray very easily and you can customize it to suit your taste.

Simply pour all the ingredients into the bottle and shake.

Spray over your entire yoga mat and wipe with a clean cloth on both sides after each use. This will keep your yoga mat clean and smelling wonderful. Down Dog will be a much more pleasant experience. I love to use lemon essential oil for its clean and uplifting aroma or if you prefer something more relaxing you a use lavender or clary sage. If you would prefer something to protect from any nasties you can add tea tree essential oil instead.

Why You Need to Use a Mat Bagcat yoga

Traveling to and from classes can take its toll on your mat just as much as your yoga sessions but even if your don’t travel with your yoga mat and you only practice at home, it is still a good idea to get yourself protective bag to store your mat while it is not being used. The bag will help to protect you mat from dirt, dust and moisture as well as scuff marks or worse. My cat once decided that my mat was a great scratching post while leaning up in the corner of the room. I almost cried. That was an expensive lesson and I had to use my cheap back up mat till my new one arrived. Needless to say, after buying a new mat I also got myself a heavy-duty bag that was cat resistant. I also started closing the door to my office where I keep my mat.

Including care into your session

Caring for your yoga mat ca be included as part of your yoga session. It will only add a couple of minutes and the rewards are worth the little effort it takes to ensure you start your morning or finish your day on a clean and fresh smelling yoga mat. It gives you a chance to inspect it for wear and tear.

I once did a session in the park, only to find where I set up was in a patch of bindis (prickles) and the underside of my mat was full of them. I spent a good time pulling them all out but still couldn’t remove them all so it is also worth checking the surfaces you lay your mat on or put and old towel underneath.

Caring for a quality mat is also easier than caring for a cheap one which is more likely to fall apart with all the extra attention. and the materials seem to stay cleaner and are more resistant to dirt and moisture.

On a final note: Mats and cats do not mix. Ensure kitty is not left alone with your beloved mat or you may find it to be an expensive lesson.

Namaste.

How to Build Your Motivation to do Yoga

Have you ever started a habit and done really well for a couple of weeks, then you have a little break because, as it does, life happens. A couple of days go by and it’s no big deal………until you realize that the habit you were doing so well at building has fallen way down on the priority list and days can turn into weeks. If you don’t reignite your motivation your habit could be lost forever, never to be attempted again. Well this is what happened to me with my yoga practice. In fact, it has happened quite a number of times over the last couple of years. This led me to think about my motivation to do yoga. For me it was about giving myself some much-needed time out from the fast pace of life. Something that I could go to when things were getting tough.

Understanding your why

What led you to Yoga. Was it a wake up call from your doctor, saying you need to exercise for your health? Was it to add something new to your existing workout schedule? For me it was the increasing anxiety and stress from being a busy working mum and my need to have some time for me.

Or was it……

  • Flexibility
  • Relaxation
  • Mindfulness
  • Strength
  • Lean Muscle
  • Spiritual

We all started Yoga for a reason. When you remember your “Why” and focus on it you may just find yourself itching to do a session.

Set goals

Edmund Burke once said “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little” 

Now I am sure we have all set goals for the New year and never actually achieved them. If you have achieved all the resolutions you have set them please contact me as I need to know your secret. But in all seriousness, the reason we often fail to achieve our goals is we fail to chunk them down into bite size pieces. If your goal is a big one and seems unattainable, chunk it into daily bites. This works with everything and not just yoga and fitness goals.

Incorporate it into your daily rituals

“Either you run your day or your day runs you.” Jim Rohn

I am definitely a rituals type of girl. I love setting up my day by starting with making my bed and doing my morning gratitude journal followed by a 20min yoga session and 5min savasana. Shower then coffee and read a book, all before the kids get up. This sets me up for a pretty amazing day. If you can incorporate even a short yoga session into your morning or evening routine, you are more likely to find yourself doing them automatically.

Be gentle with Yourself

At the end of the day we are all human and sometimes we just need to listen to what our bodies need and sometimes what we need is a break. There is nothing wrong with taking timeout as long as we keep sight of what is important to us and remember why we were doing it in the first place.

If you do take a break, a good idea is to set a date when you will revisit Yoga and schedule in some regular sessions again.

At the end of the day…..

There are a tonnes of other useful strategies you can use to build up your motivation for yoga again if you lose your mojo and these are just a small bunch that I find work well for me. I would love to hear what strategies you use.

Namaste

Why You Should Be Using Yoga for Anxiety Relief

It seems there is a huge increase in the amount of people affected by anxiety these days. It doesn’t discriminate between age, gender or race. My beautiful 90 year old Grandmother is not even immune to its effects. The thought of knowing your partner of a lifetime could be gone in the next heartbeat is not an easy one to erase from your mind. It can have such an impact that it can stop you from really enjoying your life and the people you love. Anxiety has such a profound effect on the mind and body and makes small daily tasks feel like a huge challenge due to the constant worrying thoughts that can cloud your judgment. Using yoga for anxiety relief has so many benefits and just doing a short session once or twice a day can improve your ability to manage anxiety and even prevent it.


“Yoga is a low-risk method for healing the body and mind. Often the positive effects can be felt after just one class.”


Exercise and Endorphins

It is no secret that exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. Even just five minutes of exercise and breathing can change your mood. It’s a funny thing. The thought of preparing to do exercise can invoke negative thoughts generally due to an internal association but if you just start, once you are moving you find that your whole mindset has changed and often you will want to continue longer than you intended at the beginning of your session. Use these to your advantage.

Mindfulness

The connection Yoga makes between your and body is a strong one. Mindfulness is all about being in the now and noticing the thoughts and feelings you are having without being critical of them. During your yoga session you focus on your breath and on the feelings in your body as you stretch and activate different muscle groups. This brings you to the here and now. Practicing Mindfulness has shown to be effective at reducing anxiety attacks. Some soothing poses like “child’s pose” and “down dog” can be done at anytime you feel the stress rising.

Breathing

Deep and controlled breathing works well to calm the mind and body. When we are in fight or flight mode our breathing becomes shallow and rapid as adrenaline increases. By consciously controlling the depth and speed of our breaths we can send a message to the brain that the threat is gone and it can relax. Yoga and breathing combined creates mindfulness making it very powerful in relieving anxiety.

Atmosphere

Weather you practice yoga in a class or at home the atmosphere is such that it automatically induces calmness. Your yoga teacher will usually play relaxing music and adjust the temperature and lighting to make sure all students are comfortable. There is even more you can do to create a calming atmosphere if you practice at home. You can set up your space to suit your own style. Add your own music and introduce some essential oils either diluted and applied topically on your skin or by using an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser. Adding citrus oils will create an uplifting atmosphere or you can add some woody oils to create a grounding atmosphere. I absolutely love using oils during my practice. It enhances everything and smells divine.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Yoga is, in my opinion, hands down the best tool to have in your kit when dealing with anxiety. It doesn’t matter what your fitness or flexibility level is. Even my grandmother practices gentle yoga. There are plenty of Apps to get you started on your yoga journey at home if a class is not your thing or not available. You can check out the benefits of doing Yoga at Home and you can see what my favorite Yoga App is here.

Namaste

Why I Will Only Use The Down Dog Yoga App!

You may have been practicing Yoga for a day or for a lifetime and the with the many advantages of technology we can now have a guided yoga practice anywhere. Looking to find the right Yoga app for you can be hit-and-miss. There are many apps on the market now all vying for your attention. The one I am personally using right now is Down Dog. With its cute little scruffy dog button to open the app, who could not give this one a go. I am going to take you through all the customizable features that are on offer and how they can adapt to even the newest of yogis. This is by far my favorite.

Adjust the Level of difficulty to suit you.

When you open the app you are met with a screen that is all ready for you to select exactly what suits your yoga expectations for the session.

There are 6 levels to choose from stating from an Intro that steps you through some basic poses all the way to Advance which honestly I am not game to try yet. The great thing is you can move between these levels at each session. If the kids decide to join in, you can drop down a level or two although they might surprise you with their abilities. If you need to take it easy for whatever reason, skip down a level for a session or two. If you are feeling the need for a challenge then bump it up a level. The choice is yours and it makes advancing your skills easy.

Change up the style of your Yoga

This is where it gets personal, you can change up your routines by selecting the ‘Type” of session you want to do. Are you up for a full practice, a quick session, restorative, or a choice of two sun salutation sessions. You can even add some into your workout without the warm up or do a Hatha session. The best part is there is a brief description when you click on each type to make the choice easier.

Boost your workout

So you want to improve on your strength or flexibility of a specific area of your body? No problem. Select a boost to add to your workout. With the eleven options there is something to fit your goals. Simply click on a Boost and a description of the added poses or adjustments is brought up for you to read.

Length of session to suit your Schedule

Whether you have five minutes or a  full hour and a half to practice it is totally to suit your day. You can do a quick 5-minute stretch in the morning when you wake up and do up to 90 minute restorative in the evening if that is what works in with your schedule. I have sometimes felt I could not do even half an hour due to lack of motivation so will set a short session of fifteen to twenty minutes only to get to the end and find a renewed motivation and sense of well-being.

Savasasna

How good does it feel when you have completed a session and you get to spend time laying in Savasana? This pose is the perfect relaxing conclusion to your session. Sometimes you just want to stay in that blissful state forever, other times you know that you have other pressing things to get done and need to cut it short. No problem, set the time you want to stay in Savasana before you start your session. Set the time for up to fifteen minutes. Still not long enough? That’s fine, they keep the music going till you are ready to continue your day.

Voices

We all have those accents that we love and those that we love not so much. Well you get to choose between male or female and American, Australian, British or New Zealand. This can be a great way to change it up if you are getting bored with your routines but by now you should be able to change up enough to keep you challenged and interested.

Music

childs-pose

We all have varied music taste and there are many options available to add to your yoga session. Choose ambient or acoustic for soothing sounds easing you into a good stretch or select Alt beats for a good mix of up beat music with lyrics. If it is still not to your liking, you can play your own music playlist in the background on your device. It really couldn’t be simpler. The bonus is that when you finish your session, you can see a list of all the songs that were played so you can find any that you really like and purchase them through your preferred music platform.

 

Instruction

Under this menu you can choose how descriptive the instructions for each pose and transition are. You can even include when to breathe in and out with each pose. This is great for beginners looking to improve their form and helps establish breathe sequences during the transitions. This function is also great for those that have mastered most of the poses and enjoy less instruction in their session, just select the level you want. Change it up anytime you want.

Visuals

Now this is where you can change up the quality of the videos or even change to just still shots to save on internet download. If you are in a poor or zero internet area you can choose no image at all and still get in a workout.

Conclusion

All in all, I haven’t found a better Yoga app that offers the flexibility and personalization of Down Dog. I encourage you to check out the app and use the free trial to have a look at all the options. If you need help with anything Down Dog or Yoga related there is a whole community of people on Facebook using this app. The group is a great place to ask for help or ideas.

If you have been wanting to try Yoga but the thought of attending a class is too overwhelming then this is definatly a great way to try it out in the comfort of your own home and on your own terms.

Namaste.

https://www.downdogapp.com/

 

5 Reasons Why YOU Should Start Yoga At Home Today

The benefits you get when you start yoga at home can be different for everyone. Many people enjoy the benefits and social side of attending Yoga classes and they are absolutely fantastic for getting feedback on your posture and poses. An instructor can correct alignment and advise on how to get a better stretch of modify a pose to suit your ability. If you are like me and your focus is often in a million different directions daily with work, family, social events local community committees then fitting in a class is not an easy task. So for many of us we opt to do Yoga on our own terms. Are you ready to take the jump/

Start Your Yoga Journey at Home

Time Flexibility

The most obvious benefits of all would be time. With the busy schedules and constant interruptions that this technologically advanced world has created, often we find ourselves torn between meetings, family obligations and just getting that load of laundry folded and away. By practicing Yoga at home you can fit in a five-minute practice or a forty five-minute practice whenever suits you. You can eliminate the extra travel and you will not need to fit in with class times. Doing a yoga session at 10pm is a regular occurrence at my house as I am a night owl but I have been known to do the odd sunrise session on the warmer mornings. There have even been days where I have split sessions due to time constraints. Having the flexibility to do an impromptu session can greatly increase your enjoyment of yoga and keep you motivated to fit in more sessions.

Sessions that Suit You

Classes are designed to fit a group of people at lots of different levels of strength and ability. When you are practicing, Yoga at home you have the power to set the tone of your practice. If you are just starting out, it can be a little daunting trying to hold a pose in class when your body is clearly not up to the challenge yet. I am still building my strength and as such I find I cannot hold some poses as long as some other students in a class. I have often found I push myself to do too much in a class and end up regretting it later. If you want to work on a particular area of your body or a particular pose you can. If you just need a restorative day of gentle stretching and relaxation, go for it. You get to set up your classes specific to your daily goals.

Wind Up or Wind Down

Increasing the intensity and flow of your session, adding some more challenging poses and increasing the time to hold poses can really get the heart pumping. This can be a great way to start your day. They can get your brain and body working together and increases energy and endorphins.

At the end of the day a relaxing session of restorative yoga and a long Savasana is a great way to really let go and prepare for a good nights sleep in the safety and comfort of your own home. That feeling of really relaxing can be achieved so much easier in a place of familiarity.

Create Your Space

The ability to create your own environment for yoga at home is a huge benefit. You can add anything to that space that you want. I personally love to add an essential oil diffuser and change up the oils dependent of the session I want to do. If it a morning session then I love to use citrus and peppermint blends to wake me up and build on an uplifting mood. If it in the evening then I will use more woody and earthy tones for balance and grounding. You get to choose your favorite style of background music, lighting etc.

Include Family and Pets

One thing I have found since starting yoga at home is that my kids enjoy joining me in my sessions. This creates a really great bond and sets a fantastic example for children. They get to see you succeed and sometime fail. It is such a healthy thing for our kids to see our weaknesses and our persistence when things get a little tough but also to share in our triumphs. It also adds some healthy competition to your sessions as kids can be quite flexible.

I also find the animals are fascinated with my yoga sessions and it is not uncommon to have all 3 dogs and a cat withing touching distance from my mat. Sometimes I need to modify my pose so as not to squash one of my fury friends. This adds an often comical element to Yoga that you cannot get anywhere else. I absolutely encourage you to include your pets, they might surprise you with some poses of their own.

Your Next Step

So with the help of some YouTube channels, DVD’s or an iPad app for session ideas that suit your style, making the decision to start yoga at home is a no brainer for even a beginner to yoga. Not only can you enjoy the benefits, you can also get in more sessions each week than you could attend at the gym. You get to set the time, the temp, your companions, your space and your pace. Namaste.

ABOUT PAMELA

Hey everyone and welcome to Simply Yoga Mats. Yoga has only come into my life in the last few years and I still struggle with many of the more complex poses yet I am passionate about helping people find joy in Yoga.

 

PAMELA’S STORY

My journey to finding joy in yoga was not what I would call an enlightened moment by any means. Honestly, I had tried Yoga several times at my local gym and was not at all inspired by the instructors’ encouragement to relax into the pose and breath while every muscle was shacking and burning and I felt more tense and unable to breath than the time I stepped through the farm fence and came face to face with a large red and white bull that I am sure was not there before I ducked my head through those wires.

No my yoga journey started after being very active and moderately fit, riding my horse every other day and going to the gym four to five times a week. I enjoyed running on the treadmill while drowning out everything around me with some good old heavy metal. Then it hit! Unexplainable abdominal pain that put me in hospital and knocked me for six. After a few days and no answers as to what it could be I was on the mend and getting back to my normal routine only to have it happened again. This went on for a couple of years and still no diagnosis. Every test possible and I was no closer to an answer. This put a huge halt on my fitness routine and I actually stopped all exercise for about eighteen months. After that time it had been almost twelve months since my last hospital admittance so I decided to ease back into the running. I took it easy and for two weeks did half an hour just three days a week on the treadmill with gentle intervals. THEN…….. it happened again. Back to hospital. I couldn’t believe it. Well, from there I could see the correlation to exercise but the Doctors still could not understand what was going on. It wasn’t until I had an anaphylactic reaction to food after doing some fairly strenuous lifting at home that they managed to link what was going on. Food dependent Exercise induced anaphylaxis. Yes you read that right, it is a thing. That’s it I thought, how can I be allergic to exercise??

I was not ready to give up on my health as I was nearing forty quicker than I wanted to admit so after a recommendation by my doctor to try yoga I downloaded an iPad app as I was honestly scared to try another class and figured if it was too hard then at least no one would see me fall and fail. I thought that even some gentle stretching and a little work on my balance would help get me back in the saddle for some gentle trail riding and help tone some extra skin that seemed to be forming under my arms. The first few weeks, I pushed myself to do the workouts but had committed to continue unless the pain returned. I had to watch what and when I ate before my sessions but I managed to steer clear of the hospital. After awhile I noticed I was looking forward to my nightly session, after the kids were asleep and the dogs had settled on their beds near the fireplace. The chaos of the day was over and I now had some time to relax and de fuse all the stresses of the day. I am still by no means an expert but I have found a passion for yoga that took awhile to find. I know that yoga can absolutely change your life for the better.

Everyone of us has a unique story and I am truly grateful for what Yoga has given back to me, freedom, fitness and flexibility. I want to help others find that too.

MY WISH

I wish to help you find your own joy in yoga, to rediscover your true energy and strength and to break through any physical or mental blocks that are holding you back from reaching your true yoga potential.

If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.

All the best,

Pamela

https://simplyyogamats.com/