Week 3: Forming a Daily Yoga Habit in 66 Days

Finishing Week 3 of Forming a Daily Yoga Habit in 66 Days also means the last week of our stay in Playa Maderas, Nicaragua. It’s been a very relaxing one-month stay here with lots of surfing, yoga and hammock-ing (with Mimca our almost pet cat for the month).

During Week 3 I started my daily Yoga and Meditation practice by doing my daily Yoga and Meditation in the mornings only. I feel less guilty practicing in the morning because I’ve already completed by practiced for the day and don’t waste mental energy unnecessarily thinking that I still have to practice throughout the day. It also means that on those days I feel calmer and more centered for the majority of the day.

But by Day 2 of Week 3 I started having a difficult time with my Meditation. I was getting distracted about thinking about future travel plans and I guess itchy feet to move onto our next destination – Costa Rica.

Week 3: Forming a Daily Yoga Habit in 66 Days Summary

Day 15

It is just over 2 weeks into my 66 days of daily Yoga and Meditation. Today I practiced Yoga, a Guided Meditation and Mindfulness Meditation.

I was mindful to get my practice done early in the morning because today it’s the weekly run from Playa Maderas to San Juan del Sur for supplies. I know that after we arrive back in Playa Maderas I won’t have the energy to practice. It’s about a 45 minute drive each way and we have a few hours in town to buy groceries and anything else we fancy – making it a pretty long day (well compared to the relaxed lifestyle of Playa Maderas).

Day 16

Today was the start of becoming very distracted in my Meditation practice. I’m pretty good with my Yoga practice but today I only practiced the Guided Meditation.

I was way too distracted in my Mediation – peeking at how many minutes were left half way through. I think that I’ve been getting distracted because we’re getting to pointy end of our stay in Playa Maderas and need to decide where to go next and maybe mud-map the rest of our trip too.

Day 17

Today was a Yoga practice and only a Guided Meditation. Still feeling very off my Meditation on Day 17.

Day 18

Today was a Yoga only practice and has been the only day when I didn’t practice Meditation during Week 3.

I’m not happy with being really off my Mediation this week and disappointed with myself for missing today’s Meditation. But trying not too get too hung up about it, there’s always tomorrow.

Day 19

Today I practiced Yoga, a Guided Meditation and then a Savasana. I’m still not feeling great about my Meditation practice and my Mindfulness Meditation is still nonexistent. But a Guided Meditation is better than no Meditation at all.

Day 20

Today I practiced a mid day Yoga practice and Guided Meditation after breakfast. Not ideal to practice on a full stomach and a little habit I’ve started on my 66 day journey.

My Yoga practice was pretty slow and not focused and then I tried to do a Guided Meditation a little while afterwards but could not focus and didn’t complete the entire Guided Meditation track.

I’m really feeling like I’m entering more of a struggle with my Meditation.

Day 21

Day 21 and the end of 3 weeks of daily Yoga and Meditation. 

Today, I’ve incorporated some more strength moves into my usual Vinyasa sequence by Yoga practice by adding a sequence of:

  • Push ups
  • Adho Mukha Savasana (Downward Facing Dog)
  • Adho Mukha Virasana (Downward Facing Hero)

I’m working on increasing my upper body strength because it could be better and this will also help with my arm balances.

Three weeks into my forming a daily Yoga habit in 66 days journey and I’m continuing to practice daily Yoga without too much of a problem with motivation. My Meditation has been the issue, especially in Week 3. I’ve missed 4 our of 21 Meditation sessions over the last 3 weeks. It is definitely my weak spot and I really need to work through this.

So onto Week 4 to focus on improving my Mediation practice.

Namaste

 

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Week 2: Forming a Daily Yoga Habit in 66 Days

Week 2 of 10 of Forming a Daily Yoga Habit in 66 Days

Week 2 of my 66 days of forming a daily Yoga habit and still practicing from the jungle paradise in Playa Maderas, Nicaragua.

I’m finding practicing Yoga daily to be not too much of a challenge, especially while remaining in the one location without too many distractions.

During Week 2 I’ve started to incorporate arm balances into my Yoga sequence. Working on my Bakasana (Crow Pose) and side Crow again after a few months of not practicing. During Week 2 my Bakasanas are very shaky and I’ve had a few crash landings – but that’s half the fun.

Although my daily Yoga is going well, it’s my Meditation practice that has been more difficult; I’ve missed 2 of the 7 Meditations for Week 2.

On the other 5 days when I’ve managed a daily Meditation I’ve had a few days variation from practicing both the Guided and Mindfulness Meditations and just practiced the Guided Meditation. These have mostly on the days when I’ve had a day out – like day tripping to San Juan del Sur on Day 8.

This has given me a little insight into how difficult keeping up a daily Yoga and Meditation practice can be while on the road. We’re off to Costa Rica in one week and I’m working on how I’ll be able to maintain my daily practice while in transit or exhausted from travelling.

By the end of Week 2 I’ve realised that a morning practice combing Yoga, Meditation and a Savasana is working for me best at the moment.

Week 2: Forming a Daily Yoga Habit in 66 Days Summary

Day 8

Today was the weekly trip back to San Juan del Sur for supplies. I decided to split my Yoga and Meditation at beginning and the end of the day. Practicing Yoga in the morning and then only doing only a Guided Meditation before bedtime.

Day 9

Very slow start today, I didn’t practice Yoga until in the mid-afternoon. I decided to leave the Meditation until the evening and I ended up practicing a Guided Meditation at bedtime.

Day 10

Today I practiced Yoga but no Meditation. After splitting the practices on Day 8 and Day 9 my intention was to practice Meditation in the evening, unfortunately it somehow never happened.

Day 11

On day 11 I practiced Yoga but no Meditation again today. My intention was to do a before bedtime mediation again but as I was drifting off to sleep I remembered that it never happened.

I’ve recognised that splitting my Yoga and Meditation practice isn’t working for me. I’ve missed two days of Meditation trying before bedtime Meditation. Tomorrow I will try to do both the Yoga and Mediation practice together in the morning.

Day 12

Today I did my Yoga, Meditation practice and then a Savasana all in one sitting in the morning.

I’m thinking that this daily routine in the morning could work better for me. Splitting my Yoga and Meditation practice wasn’t working. I’d end up think about needing to do my Meditation throughout the day – all the energy thinking about Meditating could have been better used just doing the Meditation!

And I do like incorporating the Savasana at the end of my practice, it feels like more of a complete practice this way.

Day 13

Today I did my daily Yoga and Meditation practice in the morning again. Although I practiced after breakfast and I felt a little heavy and lethargic.

So I slowed down the Vinyasa sequence I’ve been working through into a Vinyasa/Yin practice. I held each asana for a few more minutes than usual and worked into my muscles and ligaments and focused more on my body alignment.

I also added the mindfulness Mediation to the Guided Mediation and ended with a Savasana (final relaxation).

It has been very noisy at our bungalow with maintenance work happening throughout the days. It has definitely tested my concentration during Mediation.

However, even with all the noise, I found practicing both the Yoga and the Meditation in one sitting easier than splitting the two.

I feel that I’m getting closer to a daily Yoga and Meditation practice that could suit me – at least when I’m not in transit while travelling.

I’m still thinking about how my daily practice will go when travelling down to Costa Rica and beyond.

Day 14

Wow – two weeks already!

Today I continued to practice in the morning and combine Yoga, Meditation (Guided and Mindful) and then a Savasana as one practice. This routine seems to be working for me for now.

It still continues to be very noisy with maintenance men working away throughout the day and throughout my practice. I’m learning to tune the noise out – it’s not always easy.

I still find that my mind wanders during Meditation but I’m at peace with that – I just follow it wherever it goes and acknowledge the thought (sometime wondering why the hell am I thinking about that!?) and then back to my breath.

I continue to work through my Vinyasa sequence, not a slow as yesterday but just at a leisurely pace. I added Bakasana (Crow Pose) today and it’s still pretty shaky, but I figure that I’ll get there with more practice.

Onto Week 3!

Namaste

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Playa del Carmen – Palapa Suuk Yoga Studio Review

The Palapa Suuk Studio Review

The Palapa Suuk Yoga Studio is an open-air studio on Calle 40 between Avienda 5 and 10 in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

There are ceiling fans but no air-conditioning. This is fine for either early morning or late evening classes.

The Palapa Suuk Yoga Studio reception is closed for the 7.30am weekday or 9am Saturday Kundalini Yoga classes; entry is via the black door to the right of the reception.

Yoga Props

There are some Yoga mats and blocks available at Palapa Suuk. I’d recommend bringing a Yoga mat or a towel to put over their Yoga mat.

Yoga Asana Style: Kundalini

I attended my first Kundalini Yoga class at Palapa Suuk Yoga Studio and it was a great experience.

A very simple definition of Kundalini Yoga is that it’s a blend of physical and spiritual – it incorporates movement, pranayama and chanting mantras.

Palapa Suuk has four Kundalini Yoga classes per week and I attended the Saturday morning Yoga class with Yoga Teacher Caroline.

Caroline discussed with me what Kundalini Yoga is prior to the class starting and helped to guide me through the Yoga class. I’d recommend getting there early to get a position in the front row – it’s easier to see exactly what the Yoga Teacher is doing and they can assist students in the front row with ease if required.

Caroline queued the Kundalini Yoga class in both English and Spanish but it was mostly in Spanish – it was pretty easy to follow along.

Caroline was very warm and welcoming and just had a gorgeous energy about her – she clearly was passionate about Kundalini Yoga and that made the class really enjoyable.

There is lots of pranayama (breathing exercises) and chanting mantras in this Kundalini Yoga class. Caroline had the mantras written on white boards at the front of the studio and hands out little cards with the mantra written down – so no need to worry about not knowing the mantra.

The majority of the Yoga class was seated so it’s not a physically demanding Yoga class. The eyes are closed throughout a lot of the class – with one eye half-open to follow along with the mantra from the board or paper.

It’s very different from any other Yoga classes I’ve attended; these are usually either Hatha or Vinyasa style Yoga classes.  At first it’s a little confronting but accepting and being open to the Kundalini Yoga experience is crucial for getting the most out of the Yoga class.

It was also great to attend a Yoga class that focused on mantras and Pranayama – whereas in many other Yoga classes the main focus in on the Asanas (poses) with little for no time for mantra or Pranayama.

After the Yoga class Caroline made a special effort to explain, in English, exactly what the mantras meant and why we chanted them and how the Pranayama’s should affect the body and mind.

 

 

Recommendation

I really enjoyed my first Kundalini Yoga class.

I’d recommend it other Yoga students who would enjoy bringing their awareness and focus inward and are open to their spiritual side and not be shy about chanting mantras – just read along at first and you soon be chanting along with your eyes closed!

I felt great afterwards and think I felt the Kundalini rising! Cannot wait for my second Kundalini Yoga class.

 

Playa del Carmen – Yoga District Studio Review

Yoga District is located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It’s in the central location of Calle 26, between Avienda 10 and 15. It’s on the 3rd floor, above the Bio Organicos health food shop.

Website: www.yogadistrict.mx

Address: Calle 26 Nte, #128/5 Av y 10 Av, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

The Yoga District Studio

Yoga District is an airy and bright Yoga studio in central Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

There is plenty of room for shoes outside and pigeonholes for your personal belongings inside.

There isn’t air-conditioning at the Yoga studio but there are ceiling fans. The room temperature was comfortable but you’ll start to sweat once you get into the flow of the Vinyasa Yoga class.

There is one wall of floor–to–ceiling mirrors. I’m not the greatest fan of mirrors while practicing Yoga but can understand that some Yoga students want to be bale to check their alignment. As the mirrors are only on one wall you can choose to use the mirror or not.

Yoga Props

I’d recommend bringing our own Yoga mat and use one of Yoga District’s mats under yours for extra cushioning. There are also blocks and straps for use if required.

Yoga District also has complimentary “sweat towels” – you’ll need one.

Yoga Asana Style: Vinyasa

Vinyasa is a flow style of Yoga Asana. A great benefit of Vinyasa Yoga classes is getting a good detox through sweating it all out! I say embrace the sweat!

I attended a 10am Thursday class with the Yoga Teacher Sara. I was the only native English speaker in the class of four students. Sara was great at queuing in both English and Spanish.

There was a lot of Virabhadrasana I (Warrior I), Virabhadrasana (Warror II) and Chaturanga Dandasana (Four Limbed Staff Pose), plus variations in the sequence.

The class was great for building upper body strength with all those Chaturanga Dandasana’s (Four Limbed Staff Pose) – really great for the ladies who typically aren’t strong in the arms. And all the standing poses and lunges are great for stability and strength in the legs.

There was also a few more challenging arm balances.

Sara built the class to a nice peak and then ended with the classic sequence of:

  • Savangasana (shoulder stand) 
  • Halasana (Plough Pose)
  • Matsyasana (Fish Pose)  

I’d also recommend that you have experience with the final Asanas: Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), Halasana (Plough), Matsyasana (Fish Pose) to open the abdomen, chest and throat and is the counter pose to Sarvangasana (Should Stand) and Halasana (Plough Pose).

The class ended with a well deserved 5 minute Savasana.

Recommendation

Yoga District has a nice, relaxed energy and the Yoga Teacher Sara was very approachable and warm. I’d recommend attending a class if you’re in Playa del Carmen.

I’d also recommend that this class be for intermediate Yoga Asana students. Like any Vinyasa Yoga class, as you flow through the Asanas (poses), there isn’t much time for correcting your alignment. This is fine if you know how to “do” the Asana (pose) but concerning if you’re new to Yoga. I’d recommend a Hatha Asana style Yoga class for beginner Yoga students.

After the Yoga class I took my shaky (overly–Warrior-ed) legs downstairs and treated myself to a coconut water from the health food shop.

I felt very invigorated after the Yoga class. It certainly lifted my mood for the rest of the day.

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Your Guide to: Yoga Asana — Savasana

 

Savasana or Corpse Pose is usually the final pose at the end of a Yoga class – the final relaxation and the accumulation of all the poses in a Yoga class.

Savasana is often considered to be the most difficult of all Yoga Asana (poses) and the most important. At the end of a Yoga Class the Yoga Teacher will invite you to get comfortable and warm to enter into Savasana.

In my Yoga While Travelling – Nike Training App review I mentioned that I like to add a 10–15 minute Savasana to the end of a 15 minute Yoga class that I do from the Nike Training App to make it more of a traditional Yoga class rather than just a workout.

This is how I teach Savasana and invite you to practice this Yoga Asana. 

Before entering into Savasana I like to invite my students to do a breath and relaxation exercise to help move into Savasana: 

  • lie on your Yoga Mat, facing upward — get comfortable and warm — maybe put a blanket over yourself and a blanket under your head
  • arms and legs are away from your body, your body is in a straight line
  • deeply inhale through your nose – hold this breath. Keep holding this breath and then quickly begin creating tension in your body…
  • starting at the feet – crunch your toes, tense your calves, thighs, clench your buttocks, muscles of the stomach, clench your hands into fists, create tension in your back, shoulders, neck. Finally screw-up your face…all while HOLDING THE BREATH
  • then RELEASE THE BREATH – RELEASE all the tension that you’ve created in your body and go back to your normal breathing…feel the tension release from your body.

Then repeat this exercise two more times.

On the third and final repetition hold the breath for as long as it feels comfortable for you to do so. HOLD, HOLD, HOLD THE BREATH — then RELEASE all the tension. Feel your body and your mind RELAX, feel the tension release. Go back to your normal breath…just be for a few moments.

Now stay where you are on your Yoga mat. Let’s move into Savasana for 10–15 minutes.

Moving into Savasana

You may want to use some props if you if experience any back pain or are pregnant – see Yoga Props and Contraindications below. You may also want to put on relaxing music.

  • again, lie on your Yoga mat, arms, legs away from your body – just relaxing
  • your eyes are closed
  • make sure your neck is relaxed and long, your shoulders haven’t creeped up toward your ears
  • your body is in a straight line
  • you’re just breathing naturally, not constricting the breath

Savasana is where we turn inward toward a meditative state of being, you’re entering the fifth limb of Yoga – Pratyahara.

  • don’t be hard on yourself if you find your mind wandering to different thoughts
  • your mind will wander, that’s its nature, bring attention back to your breathing, gently let go of the thoughts
  • you have no where else to be, nothing else to do at this moment in time – this time is yours just to be
  • feel your body and mind just be
  • continue to breathe, always bringing your focus back to your breath

After 10–15 minutes of Savasana begin to come back to consciousness.

  • start to bring movement back to your body — gently moving the fingers, toes, hands and feet —gently bringing your mind back
  • move your arms above your head and give ourselves a big stretch – like we’re just woken from the most relaxing, rejuvenating sleep
  • leaving the left arm on the floor above our head, we bring the right knee upward with the right foot on the floor – then gently roll over to our left side. Gently resting the left side of the face on the left arm. Staying lying on the left side for as long as needed. Then very slowly making your way into a seated position.

I invite students to create a mental imprint of how they feel after Savasana. Knowing that they can reach a point where both their body and mind are completely relaxed, they can bring themselves back to these feelings whenever needed.

Benefits of Savasana

  • helps to consciously relax both the body and mind
  • helps to balance and calm the nervous system
  • will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated

Yoga Props

  • Yoga mat or towel/s if you’re traveling and don’t have a mat
  • if you’re just doing Savasana and not other Yoga Asana (poses), you could just lie on a bed
  • bolster
  • blanket/s
  • cushions
  • pillows (if you don’t have a bolster)
  • eye cushion

Contraindications

  • Lower back: you may want to put either a bolster or pillow under you knees to relieve any discomfort in your lower back.
  • Pregnancy variation: either raise your head and chest on a bolster or pillows or lie on your side with the bolster or pillows between your legs and your head resting on a cushion or pillow. Please note that most Yoga Asanas (poses) have variations for pregnancy and I would strongly recommend that if pregnant you attend a Pregnancy Yoga class with a specialised Pre-Natal Yoga teacher. 

Finally, you can practice Savasana whenever you like, it doesn’t have to be after a Yoga class. Sometimes I just unroll my mat and “take a” Savasana for as long as feels good to me.

Namaste

 

Yoga Mat Review – Gaiam Suddha

 

It is not always easy to find a good yoga class while travelling. So for my yoga self practice while travelling I invested in a new lightweight travel yoga mat. 

After researching a few different options, I found the Gaiam Sol Suddha 4mm Eco Yoga Mat.

Gaiam Sol Suddha 4mm Eco Yoga Mat overview:

  • Constructed with eco-friendly (thermoplastic elastomer) TPE which is 100% recyclable and biodegradable
  • Unique closed-cell structure blocks moisture, germs and odours from absorbing into the mat
  •  Slip-resistant 

Size & weight

For a travel yoga mat, my biggest consideration was weight. I’m a light traveller, I rarely take more than a carry-on bag, so my travel yoga mat had to as light as possible without being flimsy or too thin. 

The Gaiam Sol Suddha Eco Mat 4mm Eco Yoga Mat meets all my size and weight requirements:

  •  61 x 172 cm, not overly long and the width is pretty standard
  • 4mm thick, cannot feel the floor under me, elbows, hips and knees aren’t getting sore
  • Weighs less than 1 kg. Yes, it’s crazy lightweight!

Design

My Gaiam Sol Suddha Eco Mat yoga mat is double sided with rounded corners – black on one side and grey on the other. The grey side has a pattern and the black side is textured.

I’ve been using the mat grey side up as I’m trying to keep it clean. It does get a little slippery if I’ve been sweating but has good grip for a normal hatha yoga practice. 

It does have some scuff marks on the grey side, nothing too serious. 

Smell

Many yoga mats have a toxic smell when new, especially the cheaper mats. It usually goes away.

The Gaiam Sol Suddha Eco Mat had a mild smell when first purchased. I aired it for a few days and the smell went away. It didn’t not smell as toxic as the cheaper yoga mats.

Sustainability

You really can’t mention the toxic smell of yoga mats without considering their environmental impact.

The Gaiam markets the Suddha as an Eco Mat. This means that it’s made with thermoplastic elastomer (TPE). Gaiam market the Gaiam Sol Suddha Eco Mat as eco-friendly – 100% recyclable and biodegradable.

After Googling TPE, I still have no real idea what this means. 

But I do know that the mat is better quality than the cheaper yoga mats – it smelt less initially and it should last you longer. 

In my opinion this makes the Gaiam Sol Suddha Eco Mat more sustainable than a cheaper yoga mat as you should not have to replace it as quickly and it does not smell as toxic.

Durability

So far, so good. 

I’ve been practicing Hatha style yoga mostly. I’ve started to practice my Vinyasa’s in the Ashtanga style and the mat seems to be holding up and not losing bits of mat.

Cost

The Gaiam Sol Suddha Eco Mat retails at $50 AUD. 

Gaiam’s official website: www.gaiam.com.

You may like to purchase it through my Amazon Store

Overall

At $50, it’s a bit of an investment. But I love my Gaiam Yoga mat – perfect for travel.