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Hi all Om La La readers,

I just received this note and thought it was an interesting concept.  Apparently there is a website where people write in describing their dream assignment (photography related).  Then, people get to vote on what sounds like the best idea and the winner gets $50,000 to make it happen. It’s a promotional/marketing contest put on by Microsoft/Lenovo which apparently is some laptop that’s good for photographers (the winner gets one of those too plus a camera) — pretty cool for Microsoft I guess.

Anyways — I had someone write in asking for help from the public to vote for her dream job and anted to pass on the info in case you were interested in voting for her.  Honestly, it sounds pretty cool!

Erica McDonald wrote in and asked,   “All AMMA friends..I need your help now (till April 3) get votes for my proposed photo project Amma The Hugging Saint: Her Service to the World: Humanitarian Activities that Bring Hope & Peace.

With funding, I will create a photo-narrative about individuals in India and around the world who benefit from Amma’s humanitarian activities, bringing more awareness to the possibility of a selfless life. The 20 projects with the most votes are reviewed, and one will win $50,000 to carry out their dream photo project.

To read more and VOTE: (click here)

If you don’t vote for Erica, there are tons of other very cool proposals up and I’m sure every one of them would appreciate a vote. Who knows, maybe you’ll post an idea of your own.

-Eliza

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Hot yoga can be a messy business. You can’t be afraid of a little or a lot of sweat. But we’ve all heard the tales of people getting sick from communal mats. In fact, the concern at one point seemed to be so widespread that the New York Times covered the story a couple years back.

Communal Yoga Mats: Beware of Germs, by Abby Ellin. “In the last two years, Dr. Cohen said, he has seen a 50 percent spike in patients with athlete’s foot and plantar warts. The likely culprit? Unclean exercise mats, he said…

Research has not confirmed the link between unclean yoga mats and fungal, bacterial and viral infections better known as jock itch, plantar warts and staph infections. Nor can dermatologists and podiatrists conclusively trace these ailments to dirty yoga mats.

Still, some are making unofficial connections.

I must say in the past two years, it seems yoga studios have stepped up they’re cleaning protocol on communal mats. At Jivamukti you put your mat in a laundry bin following class to be washed before the next person uses it- and they’re not even a hot studio. At YogaWorks you also hand your mat back to someone at the front desk, but I honestly don’t know what they do with them once they’re handed over. Most common is the spray bottle solution. Studios like Prana Power Yoga offer spray bottles with cleaning solution but it’s up to the individual to decide how diligent they are going to clean up after themselves. Unfortunately, Prana also offers paper towels…yikes…SO not green. Where can we find compromise? Shiva Shakti in Northampton, MA offers spray bottles with sponges. But I question how much bacteria a sponge can host and transfer from mat to mat? I’m no scientist so I say invest in buying and bringing your own mat! Especially if your studio has mat storage. No one wants to grab that rented mat and have to wonder if it’s wet because it’s been cleaned or because it has been sweat on, ew.

And, I know studios make it a habit to try and clean the floors in between each class but some transitions simply don’t allow enough time to mop the floors before people swarm in. But really, there’s nothing like stepping in a puddle of someone else’s sweat that gets you off on the wrong foot (really, no pun intended).

As for cleaning your own mat, Yoga Journal’s advice is this:

If your mat is lightly soiled, use a spray bottle, damp sponge, or terry cloth rag to apply a solution of two cups of water and four drops of dish soap. Rub the soiled areas. Wipe the mat with clean water; then rub with a dry terry cloth towel. Hang to air dry.

If your mat is heavily soiled, submerge it in a solution of warm water and mild detergent; use very little soap as any residue may cause the mat to become slippery during future use. Thoroughly hand wash the mat and rinse in clean water. After squeezing out the excess water, lay the mat on a dry towel and roll the mat and towel together. Stepping on the rolled up mat will squeeze more moisture out of the mat and into the towel. Then unroll and hang to air dry.”- Donna Raskin

If you’re looking for an even deeper clean, visit the sight of your mat’s maker- often times your mat can handle a trip through the washing machine and even dryer!

Stay clean!

-Eliza

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I’ll find any excuse to talk about my love for cereal – strange I know but I can’t explain. Cereal just so happens to be my number one comfort food- and hey, not a bad comfort food to have if you ask me. I especially like having a bowl before bedtime. Now I know we’ve all heard the theories out there about why it might be bad to eat before you go to bed but everyone’s different and this works for me so I’m sticking to it.

The reason I think it’s even worth mentioning is that I’ve been practicing a lot of yoga at home and experimenting with different poses and how they affect my level of energy. For example, Surya Namascar (sun salutes) and inversions like headstand/handstand are traditionally considered energizing poses while forward folds and inversions like Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) are considered to be more cooling/”chill out” poses. So if you, like most New Yorkers, have a vigorous practice at 7:30PM or later you may find it more difficult to fall asleep at night. If this is true it might be worth considering an AM practice or a more gentle, candlelight flow at night. In fact, most experts agree that for the best night’s rest it’s ideal to practice in the afternoon- yeah, if only. They claim the afternoon and not the morning because our bodies tend to be almost two degrees cooler in the AM and generally more tight. Anyhow, I thought it worth mentioning and it was on my mind as I just did a set of heating inversions at 10PM tonight. Oops.

Well, if you’re wondering the reason why my go-to bowl of cereal happens to actually work it’s because carbs make your brain release serotonin and the milk itself contains the amino-acid L-tryptophan (think Thanksgiving) and the calcium in the milk helps the brain use and process the tryptophan. And in my case, because cereal is my personal comfort food it works double-time -many psychologists believe that our psychological relationship to comfort food naturally enables us to relax.

I do want to point out however that this bedtime trick should still be done mindfully like all eating- this means planning on having a light dinner earlier in the evening and allowing only a small portion of a healthy, whole grain, high-fiber cereal (Lucky Charms do not count) at bedtime. And please don’t actually eat and lay down. Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

Goodnight!

-Eliza

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So I know I said that every Monday I’d post some awe-inspiring quote that somehow relates to yoga.  Right.  Well I did that for a couple of weeks and even I’m bored with it.  Not to mention there exist some hundreds of sites dedicated to dumping, no sorry, allocating, these inspirational, motivational, blah blah quotes on life, love and yes, even yoga.  I still stand behind the idea of doing something on a weekly basis so the Om La La readers have something to look forward to come Mondays when they’re stuck behind their computers at work and have already visited facebook twice and read their daily candys.  Oh and how about the fact that I can’t follow Britt’s weekend of blog debauchery with some serious quote from the Bhagavad Gita. You can’t follow yoga sex moaning with sacred text. Instead I think we’ll try a new Monday mission-

“Things you cannot/should not do in a yoga class”  per Britt’s yoga moaning experience.

Let’s be clear this is for our amusement and your education only.  No one wants to build up bad karma here.  We’d just like to offer some insight into behavioral dos and don’t of yoga.  And yes, I do recognize that yoga is a place of non-judgement.  That’s what I love about it!  But honestly folks, you think it’s funny too when the woman next to you is having a “When Harry Met Sally” moment right on her mat.  So stay tuned for a new tradition come Monday.

-Eliza

And, p.s. to Britt, camping was glorious.  I brought my mat.  And never thought for a moment that you’d run amuck on the blog.  My hat off to you for keeing us all entertained while I was away.  How in the hell am I supposed to categorize your rants?

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Pardonez-moi mom and dad for the following:

There is no doubt that there is a link between yoga and sex.  Do yoga and you get a hot bod, you’re bendy-flexy, you understand your body… all good things.  And practicing can be quite sultry- a hot, dark room with pretty strangers, great music, yoga ass (for anyone who watches Weeds).  Some- ahem, not I, but another one of the writers for this site (to remain un-named), even met her significant other in class.  And how many times ladies, when you mention you do yoga to a guy, do they respond, “Cooool.  Does that like mean you can put your leg behind your head?”  Why, yes jerk, I can, and the entire reason I started practicing is so that on the day I met you, I could put my legs behind my head.

I remember when I first made this connection.  A little after I had first started practicing (I must have been 14 or 15), I was in class with a friend, who was a year older and ions beyond me in maturity.  I’ve wrote about Johnny Kest before, the super cute yoga teacher from Michigan, with the millions of admirers.  After his class, my friend and I were talking, and she said to me, you know, the only reason all these women come to class is so that someone will touch them.  They are totally sexually frustrated with their pudgy suburban husbands, so they come to class to get straddled by Johnny.  This, at 14 years old or whatever, had not ever crossed my mind.  But she was and is quite right…  Dude…cute male yoga teachers…they clean up.

Some people swear by tantric yoga- Sting has been a huge proponent.  For those unfamiliar with the idea, the point of tantric sex is that you (the man from what I’ve heard, but I guess it would work for females as well), withhold from uh- finishing, in order to store energy.  So like Sting has sex for hours and hours on end (poor Trudie).  Personally, does not appeal to me.

So the reason why I am writing about this today is that I just finished a class where the woman in front of me moaned throughout the ENTIRE class…like every down dog, every deep exhale, was an, “Aaaahhhhh, mmmmmm.”  Way sexual.  Way loud.  And I thought to myself, ya, yoga feels good, but like not orgasm moaning good.  And I questioned myself, am I doing yoga wrong that I am not deriving such pleasure?  I, who has the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy, was of course in hysterics for the majority of class.  So my conclusion is this.  Yes- yoga can be a good substitute for sex when you are choosing or being forced into celibacy.  But no matter how good the class, how good the teacher, how good the stretch- it’s not as good as sex.

-Britt

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Yesterday Liza likened her and I to “good cop, bad cop” on this site…guess which one I am.  My new annoyance of the day- yoga studios that call you to remind you to come back to the studio.  Like I need yoga telemarketers…  YogaWorks did it today at 4:30 while I was at work.  Unnecessary!  Enough said.

On a more positive note!

I have a weird thing for Irish music (which all started with my dad seeing Riverdance, a subsequent roadtrip through Ireland, and me, the little blond Jewish girl enrolling in Irish dance classes).  Isauro played some great Irish music in class this morning (Some Like it Hot), which I majorly dug.  2 points Isauro.

-Britt

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