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Yoga Profiles: Shakti Flow

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend Wanderlust Oahu (a yoga and music festival) for free, through work. Although I always try to take some new styles of yoga classes and/or practice with new teachers at events like this, my favorite class was one I went into knowing I would love: Shakti Flow. It was taught by Jess Abner, the amazing lady who is at the helm of the Shakti Flow movement.

Shakti Flow is my favorite exercise, hands-down. I love it so much, that I got trained to teach it, last year.

There are many days when I know that I would feel better after a run or yoga practice, but I’m just not in the mood to actually do it. Shakti Flow is the one and only thing that no matter my mood or how tired or busy I am, I still really want to Shakti Flow it out.

Let me be clear: Shakti Flow will kick your ass. You are not just going to sweat, you are going to be drenched. But here’s the thing: I’m not one of those insane people who think that the harder you have to work, the better. My other favorite asana practice is Strala, which is all about getting more done using less effort.

Shakti Flow is not going to kick your ass in the same way that some other intense things do, like Soul Cycle (which I hate, by the way. What exactly is fun about paying almost $1 per minute to get strapped into a machine, pump your legs up and down a million times in a row, and have someone yell at you in the dark? No thank you!).

Yes, there are some moments while practicing Shakti Flow when I think I simply cannot go on. However, those moments are when I’m literally shaking everything out so hard that maybe my muscles cramp up, or my body simply cannot follow my brain’s command, but I want to keep going. I enjoy myself so much that it doesn’t seem like work, even when my body is working harder than it probably ever has before. And again, let me remind you: I am the type of person who thinks that teaching yoga still feels like work.

Yoga, dance and functional fitness, Shakti Flow is an invigorating practice that blends these elements.
On the surface a Shakti Flow class is full of high intensity cardio bouts,
fun improv dance sets mixed with creative vinyasa flow, body weight strength training
and breath work while loud motivating music infiltrates the room.
Below what we can physically see, these movements are cleansing and opening
our chakras, building solid foundations while nudging us to step out of our comfort zones.
In turn we re-emerge more confident, vibrant and more aligned
with our divine feminine energy. Shakti means power or empowerment,
which is what our practice inspires within us.

This incredible practice has led me to self-love that I never thought possible; it is a feminist statement every time you hit your mat for Shakti Flow (shakti is the divine feminine energy); and it has an unbelievable healing power, all while being probably the most fun you will ever have while breaking a major sweat.

If you haven’t tried it yet, you must! And if it makes you nervous, know this: I am not a good dancer at all. This is not about performing, and it really is a judgement-free zone. It’s a celebration.

If you want to get even more of a taste for the type of energy to expect at a Shakti Flow class, check out some of my favorite Shakti Flow jams below. I try to catch Jess’s classes at Yoga Hawaii weekly. Maybe I’ll see you there soon!

*Photos courtesy of Jess Abner/Shakti Flow and Wanderlust Oahu/Melissa Gayle Creative

Yoga Playlist: January-March 2017

Great news! I’ve finally figured out how to embed my Spotify playlists here into my posts. This is the playlist I’ve been jamming out to on my mat since this new year:

2016 in Review: Exercise

2015 in Review: Exercise, is here.

No abs? No problem! Just try high-rise leggings 😉

Even though it was encouraging and useful for me these past three years, I think that 2016 is the last time (for now, at least) that I will be recording my exercise. While it’s cool to be able to have concrete numbers, proof of how much I exercised all year, I found it really irritating an item on my before bed to-do list. I actually do not like having any sort of pre-bedtime to-do list, but it’s a must. I have to wash my face, brush my teeth, write in my line-a-day-journal, and write down my workout. Since I still have a year and a half left in my line-a-day-journal, I am going to let myself off the hook and stop recording workouts. The fact that I do not have any specific goal I am working towards, makes me even less inclined to continue to record any/all workouts in 2017.

Since we have the numbers from 2016, let’s take a look at them:

  • I ran 10 (only 10!) miles all year (I am still blaming my foot and ankle injuries from 2015 for that one!)
  • I practiced yoga 219 times
  • I taught 387 yoga classes

I also walked a ton; hiked, swam and did barre occasionally; but I didn’t count those. Which is another reason why I do not want to continue this log this year: it’s not really accurate to what I do in terms of movement, and it also has no real effect on the way I feel physically. I want to exercise for my mental and physical health and well-being; do I really need a ledger for that? Nope. Most of the time, it actually just made me feel worse that I wasn’t able to run or do yoga as much as I wanted to, with everything else going on.

I was able to complete two yoga teacher trainings in 2016, for which I am so grateful, because they are both styles that I personally adore practicing: Strala

and Shakti Flow.

My goal is, like everyone else’s, to get in better shape so that I can more fully enjoy and participate in life. But really, that’s not a New Year’s Resolution; it’s a daily one.

 

What do you think: does writing down your workouts keep you accountable? Do you have any fitness plans or goals for 2017?

Easy Yoga Asana for Holiday Stress Relief

Here is a useful piece I wrote for my Holiday 2016 Newsletter. Ask me for a printed copy in person, or download the full PDF here.

Let’s be honest: between work, school break, parties, family obligations, travel, gift-giving, etc. the holidays can turn from fun to stressful very quickly. Here are some easy asana that will help you relax and re-center:

yogaloha holiday christmas pants yoga

  1. Child’s pose (balasana): Kneel on the floor, with your knees open wide, toes un-tucked, and big toes touching. Lay your torso down between your thighs and rest your forehead on the ground. Reach your hands all the way forward, then exhale to settle your hips to your heels and your arms to the ground.  This is a resting pose; stay anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. It gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles; calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue. A variation is to bring your knees in to touch and rest your arms down by your sides, to further stretch the shoulders and allow the spine to gently round.
  2. Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana): start laying down on your back on an even surface. Bend both knees and bring the soles of your feet in to touch (prop up your knees with pillows, blankets or blocks if this is too much on your hips). Relax your arms wherever is comfortable (by your side, on your belly, overhead, etc.) and close your eyes. Breathe deeply and stay for 1-10 minutes.  This posture stimulates the heart and improves circulation; stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees; and helps relieve the symptoms of stress, depression, & menstruation.
  3. Legs-up-the-wall (viparita karani): Simply lay down on your back on an even surface. Lift your legs straight up over your hips, so that your body resembles a capital letter “L.” For even more comfort, you can do this at the wall and rest your legs against the wall. Wiggle around until you find a position that feels good; then hold still. Relax  and breathe. Hold for 5-15 minutes. Benefits include improved mood, increased energy, reduced anxiety and depression, and healing for menstrual cramps, migraine, arthritis, varicose veins, urinary disorders, respiratory ailments, insomnia, high and low blood pressure and digestive issues.
  4. Wild thing (camatkarasana – pictured): Start in a side plank with your right hand on the ground, fingers spread. Inhale to lift your hips higher and float your left leg up off your right leg. Bend your left leg and step your left foot to the floor behind you. Keep that left leg bent and your right leg straight. On an inhale, curl your back until your chest opens up toward the sky; curl your head back and lift your top arm out from your heart-space. Stay for just a few deep breaths. Return through side plank; repeat on the other side. This pose opens the chest, lungs, shoulders, legs & hip flexors. It builds strength in the shoulders & back and treats fatigue, anger, depression & aggression.


Yoga Playlist: October 2016

Hey guys,

I just realized I TOTALLY forgot to post this playlist back in October! Sorry about that… but I figured, more music to practice yoga to is always better late than never, right? Enjoy!

(If you’d prefer a more seasonally-appropriate playlist, here’s one for December)

yoga playlist spotify october 2016yoga playlist spotify october 2016 yoga playlist spotify october 2016 yoga playlist spotify october 2016

Herban Essential Towelettes

herban essentials towelettes

I’ve discovered Herban Essential wipes from working in the yoga world for the past two years. Herban Essentials uses steam distilled or cold pressed essential oils and they make a constant effort to obtain organic, wild-grown oils from American farmers whenever possible. Their products are made in the USA, are cruelty free and are never tested on animals (yay!) and come in different sizes and scents, ranging from lavender to eucalyptus. I’ve tried the Yoga Towlettes (lavender) and orange. They come individually-wrapped, which is so convenient to tuck one into your purse, car, etc.

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You can use these towelettes on your skin (especially good to wipe off sweat after a yoga class) or to clean your yoga mat. I discovered another great use: cleaning. Not only did I wipe down the entire interior of the front of my car, but also cleaned my shoes. Here’s the before photo…

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Here you can see what the towelettes look like (no artificial colors or fragrances makes them very subtle yet still effective).

lavender wipes

And voila! So much better. Have you tried these? What do you use them for?


Why I Hate the Lululemon Yoga Mat

Just to be clear: Like pretty much all yogis, I love Lululemon. I mean HOW COOL ARE THESE YOGA PANTS!?!

lululemon fitting room yoga pants

I am physically unable to go into a Lululemon store and leave empty-handed (unless my boyfriend comes with me and literally drags me out. Not being hyperbolic here). For a sweaty workout, their clothes are the best (in terms of function and fashion; this is what I’m swooning over getting next). So, anyways:

This is an unbiased review of the Lululemon Reversible 5mm yoga mat.

Even though this mat has terrible reviews online, lots of yogis I know personally rave about it, so I decided to give it a try. Let’s start with the pros:

  1. It comes in fun colors and prints
  2. At $68, it’s slightly less expensive than Manduka yoga mats (although it does not come with the same lifetime guarantee)
  3. The cushy side is perfectly thick and cozy for yin yoga or other restorative practices

lululemon 5mm reversible mat

However, for me at least, the cons way outweighed the pros. Here they are:

  1. Polyurethane might be bad for you
  2. Sweat shows up
  3. It’s very hard to clean
  4. If you don’t clean it, it stinks
  5. It’s grippy, but too grippy

Made with polyurethane, this mat might be toxic to the respiratory system. Although it’s not fully proven, and there need to be more studies, do you really want to put your face right up to this potentially toxic substance, and inhale your biggest breaths?

However, here is my biggest problem with the mat: it doesn’t hold up to its description. Lululemon claims that the mat is “easy to wipe clean,

  • durable
  • easy to clean
  • sweat-wicking
  • absorbs moisture”

You know that if they felt the need to point out twice that it’s “easy to clean,” something’s up. It is NOT easy to clean. If you wipe it with a dry towel, well, there’s nothing to wipe, because the sweat just gets absorbed down into the mat. If you use a spray or mat cleaner, it just immediately gets absorbed, so you can’t wipe it off (and then you can see the spray on the mat; yes, every little drop shows up. It reminds me of blotting paper). If you just take one glance at the above photo, from an UNHEATED power yoga class (that was, admittedly, 2.5 hours long, but still), it is sweat-wicking, but not enough. At least, living in ridiculously humid Hawaii, this mat is not a good option. I was sliding all over the place once I started to really sweat. The whole point of this mat (which is, I will allow, very grippy right away) is that you don’t need a costly yoga towel to go over it. Well, I had a small towel with me that I used to wipe myself off, but this is still how much sweat stayed on my mat. This is what is listed on the Lululemon website, under CARE for this product:

  • Spot clean
  • Do not wash
  • Do not bleach
  • Do not tumble dry
  • Do not iron
  • Do not dry clean
  • Imported

Does that sweat-soaked mat look like it can be SPOT-CLEANED?! It looks like I spilled my entire water bottle all over it (I did not). I’m not even a person who tends to sweat a lot.

cleaning lululemon yoga mat

I had to leave my mat outside the front door for a few hours, since it was so wet, until I had time to properly clean it. By then it had picked up dirt from being on the ground. So it was stinky, sweaty and dirty. Great. I filled my bathtub, poured some gentle soap on it, and proceeded to poke, press and scrub the mat… to no avail. The dirt must have soaked in, because it wasn’t coming out. The mat is large and thick, so it was difficult to maneuver in the tub. It was also almost impossible to squeeze out, so it was sopping wet when I put it up to dry. It’s been hanging for over 24 hours at this point, and it’s still wet. I cannot believe that people do this often (or even once in awhile), or that maybe people just don’t do this, and they let their sweat soak in and dry, leaving their mat smelly. Ew. There are reasons why I don’t have a baby or a dog, and one is that I don’t want to have to wash heavy, dirty, unwilling things in bathtubs.

 

Let me clarify: I did give this mat a fair chance. I didn’t just take it to this one power yoga class. I used it to teach yoga for weeks, but found that even if I sweat a little bit, the sweat would show up on the mat, which was frankly embarrassing (especially when it was from my oily forehead or in the shape of my boobs or butt). No thank you. Plus, I practice jumping through from down dog, and I roll over my toes to get to down dog, and in both cases, my toenails would catch on the mat. It’s good that the mat is grippy, except when you want to move, and instead you get stuck. Very quickly, the mat got little cuts and dings in it, that made it look like my cat had been using it as a scratch-board (and I don’t even have long nails).

 

Lululemon, I love you, but this mat is a fail.


Yoga Playlist: September 2016

It has just now occurred to me (halfway through October) that I have forgotten to post my September 2016 playlist! Apologies, and here it is (you can also find me on Spotify: vshaindl):

yoga music playlist fall 2016 yoga music playlist fall 2016yoga music playlist fall 2016


Fabletics Store {Waikiki}

the new international marketplace shopping center waikiki

Recently I posted that International Marketplace was reopening.

the new international marketplace shopping center waikiki

My boyfriend Kiyo and I decided to go check it out the weekend it opened. Although I was sad at first that the old Marketplace was being torn down, I am totally impressed by how nice the new one is. They did a really good job and made the space seem huge.

the new international marketplace shopping center waikiki

There’s a large, central, open-aired space and when we went, there was live music. It was swelteringly hot!

Fabletics store waikiki grand opening

I was very excited to get inside and check out the grand-opening party at Fabletics, Kate Hudson’s workout clothing brand. Not only did they pass out glasses of champagne, but they had a DJ who happened to consistently choose my favorite Top 40 songs!

Fabletics store waikiki

I actually wore my one piece of Fabletics apparel to the opening; I’ve had this long-sleeved top for two years and it still gets me compliments.

Fabletics store waikiki

I took lots of dressing room pictures so I could share my favorite finds. Note how spacious the room is and that the light is actually flattering (thank goodness).

Fabletics store waikiki

This fun white dress was one of my favorite finds!

Fabletics store waikiki

Even though it’s technically an exercise clothing brand, Fabletics has so many cute “athleisure” items, like this.

Fabletics store waikiki

I must have been in the mood for white that day, because I also adored this dress, which had a hood.

Fabletics store waikiki

I ended up buying this!

Fabletics store waikiki

This adorable backpack was a close contender, but I ended up choosing a slightly bigger, more practical backpack (since I’ll be going back to school this Spring, I wanted something that would fit lots of books).

Fabletics store waikiki

Onto the workout items: here was a great teal sports bra that’s almost a tank top.

Fabletics store waikiki

Likewise, I think this bra would be more aptly called a crop top.

Fabletics store waikiki

I really loved this! It would be especially perfect paired with some baggy pants a la 90’s girl band, or with harem pants.

Fabletics store waikiki

The best part about the new Fabletics store is that members can come in to choose their monthly outfit in person! I love this, as someone who doesn’t like to shop for clothes online (even if there is free shipping for returns, I just can’t be bothered). If you’re confused: Fabletics provides a program that allows it’s members to receive discounts (always) as well as a discounted outfit per month. Definitely check them out, in person, or online, or both!

Fabletics Waikiki

Address: 2330 Kalakaua Ave, Space 240, Honolulu, HI 96815

Phone: (808) 445-9319

Open 7 days a week, 10 am – 11 pm


Yoga Playlist: August 2016

This playlist is a little bit more relaxed than my usual yoga playlists. I suppose it mirrors my current energy levels and attitudes; I have slowed down my practice a lot this summer, after some travel and sickness. I’ve been practicing asana less frequently, which makes me sad, but also seems to be the best thing for my body and energy right now. Sometimes we need to just listen to our bodies and taking rest is not the same thing as being lazy. How have you been feeling this summer? Let me know what you think of this playlist!

august 2016 yoga music playlist spotify august 2016 yoga music playlist spotify august 2016 yoga music playlist spotify