YOGA: Win With Kismet

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Who wants to win some super soft, ethically produced yoga gear? I DO! Unfortunately though, I am not allowed to enter, as it is I running the giveaway. I knew I wanted to share Kismet Yoga after founder Sylvia contacted me with her inspirational story – from stressful job to running her own yoga business, it’s every rat-race-runners’ dream – and she has kindly agreed to let me run a Kismet giveaway for my readers.

Relaxing is hard whether you’re in a high-pressure job or not, so Sylvia started practising yoga to cope better with life’s pressures. “Right from the beginning I felt I would like to learn more. So I went several times to India, spent time in Mysore and did various retreats around the world, learning yoga philosophy and anatomy”. Combining this knowledge with a love of fashion and canny business sense, the idea of Kismet Yoga was born.

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“I quit my job, went travelling, wrote the business plan, met the right people and made it happen. It was lots of work but as well some things happen magically and fall into place” – like I always say, trust in the process!

Sylvia says that hitting 40 was the catalyst to make her just “go for it”, but I think whatever age we are we can implement a little of Sylvia’s ethos into our own lives; she is proof that if you know your stuff, work hard and hobnob with the right people, what you want will happen.

Take a look below and tell me which top you would like to win – from left it’s Sita, Ria and Umasimply by commenting on this post. Please leave a method of contacting you should you win. Winner will be drawn out of a proverbial hat on the 4th of August.

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Good luck, yogis!


YOGA: Practise Off The Mat

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Sometimes in yoga practise everything is really hard. For long periods of time you feel like you’re getting nowhere and more often than not you’re just landing flat on your face. “Why do I bother?”, you wonder to yourself, completely forgetting in your darker moments that all this practise is in fact progress; progress so small you can’t even see it. Until one day you relax, release, and go with the flow, and you get that arm balance or back band, and the reason for your struggle becomes clear.

It’s just like life, off the mat. Lately I’ve been trying hard with job applications, sometimes filling in up to ten a day, and I’ve been going to three interviews a week. Each rejection (or even non-response) has seen my self esteem come crashing down further and further, even if I wasn’t even all that bothered about said job.

Truth be told, I’ve probably been trying too hard. I know well enough that you shouldn’t pin your self worth on any one aspect of yourself, yet here I was, wondering whether I was good enough: in tears to my boyfriend every other day, jumping every time my phone rang, constantly feeling sick. That is, until I let go. I stopped trying to control everything, opened my mind and my heart, and explored a few different avenues. How about just volunteering, meeting some people and enjoying yourself? Or how about working in retail for a while – for the market you want to work in, mind, and get some insider knowledge? Or how about a Masters degree..?

The big difference between life and yoga practise is that life isn’t a practise, and whilst it’s true you need to give it everything you’ve got sometimes you just need to trust in the process and believe that nothing lasts forever, good or bad. Have a goal, but remember there isn’t a singular route towards that goal (or: there’s more than one way to transition into a posture). Better things are a-coming.


I Hate This Yoga Posture… Here’s Why

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I’ve often read about yoga’s ability to strongly release emotions, particularly when opening the tight muscles around the hips. Although for me yoga is a great stress release and afterwards I feel thoroughly ironed out, it has never made me feel anything but relaxed, so I thought the emotion release phenomena was just not for me.

That is until I received some huge news on Friday. I’d got the interview for the dream job I’d been waiting, hoping, manifesting for over the past few months. It’s a difficult one – an hour long, with a presentation and competency-based interview – though I would expect nothing less as it’s a huge opportunity. Cue mega nervous energy on my behalf. I snapped at my partner and was antsy with other’s skipping reps in CrossFit. Good job yoga was on Saturday lunchtime to de-stress me, huh?

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I managed to rip my beloved yoga mat, so that’s a small indication of how well the class went..

Throughout my entire yoga class, all I could think was “I hate this pose”. Warrior one: “I hate this pose”. Rotated triangle: “I hate this pose”. And absolute worst of all was chair pose: “I HATE this pose!” Chair pose is not easy for me at the best of times, with tight hip flexors, achilles and shoulders, but I normally have a bit of a go. This time I humphed and made a pathetic, token attempt. I approached my teacher afterwards and told her about my problem throughout the class, being careful to explain it was nothing to do with her teaching or the class – just a big problem with my attitude!  She said I may have found class hard because of the pent-up emotions the asanas were releasing from my body.

Her reply reminded me of Liz Gilbert’s problem with the Gurugita in Eat, Pray, Love (the book; I’ve never seen the film). Liz hates having to get up in the morning to sing the Gurugita with the rest of the ashram as she finds it incredibly difficult to do, until one day she gets locked in her room and has to fight to get to sing in time. Sometimes the things you dislike doing the most because they’re difficult are the ones that are the most beneficial to you; the ones that release and cleanse feel awful when the emotion is leaving your body, but you feel much better afterwards.

As this blog post goes live I will be going into my interview, so please be sending me your most positive vibes. I totally intend to impress them with my knowledge, strategic thinking and also my personality.. but it won’t hurt to have the universe on my side, too!

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No Fear | Handstands & Green Juice at the Om Yoga Show 2014

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Traditionally in yoga, 108 is the sacred number. 108 sun salutations, 108 prayer beads, 108 sacred sites. But this weekend has been all about the number two for me – a couple, or double; a pair. Two days of the Om Yoga Show, two hours’ practice each day. Two green juices both days to fuel my asanas; two hands firmly planted into the earth with two feet reaching up high into the sky.

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No, I didn’t mix those last two up. One of the highlights of my weekend was a handstand workshop. I was nervous beforehand, and the instructors did say that fear is what holds most of us back from being able to do a handstand. They’re not wrong there. I learned lots of new tips to improve my inversions, and even got up into a handstand in the middle of the floor. OK, so I had a spotter who made me feel super safe – and they definitely let go at one point so I was freestanding!

I also got the chance to try out three different types of yoga – Iyengar, boxing and Jivamukti. I have always just “done” yoga without a thought of which school I was, adding in and taking away bits as I felt necessary, though the Jivamukti class really resonated with me. The teacher was bursting with energy (Andrea Everingham of One Yoga Studio in Chorlton, if you’re local!), the music loud, and the flow fast. We got to do stuff I love like balances, back bends, and inversions, and I really felt like I opened new doors in my practise – I did crabs, crows, and I nearly did a one-legged arm balance before faceplanting. I didn’t mind though! I firmly believe that what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you and it was great to take my yoga practise outside of the box.

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The Freeths of the Freestyle Yoga Project ran the handstand workshop I went to on the Saturday, and Mark was telling us about the progress he’s making with one-armed handstand. He can showed us how he can do it against the wall, and is working on freestanding. I was thinking about this  whilst watching the couple’s demonstration later that day – if these guys are still working on poses and appreciating their progress, then I shouldn’t be too hard on myself when I don’t get crow or headstand press straight away. Everyone is at their own stage of practise and progress can’t be forced.

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There were some awesome stands to nosy about, too, but sadly the intention I set was to not buy any more crazy patterned leggings. I have to save pennies! Sad though as I could have easily spent on peacock Onzies or galaxy Teekis. I did allow myself to buy some foodie bits though – I’ve newly discovered 9 Bars (I know, where have I been?), chocolate Koko milk and Chi coconut water lattes, which are made from 100% coconut water.

I’m so inspired and excited now to get back onto my mat to put the knowledge and courage I’ve gained this weekend to good use – I feel I’ve been able to let go of some fear with the help of experienced instructors, spotters and helpers. My only problem with the show? That it’s not every weekend! Seriously, it was such an incredible experience, I will certainly be there again next year.

Namaste, Om Yoga Show!

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YOGA: Win Om Show Manchester tickets!

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As a new subscriber to Om Yoga Magazine I was pretty excited to hear their yoga show is returning to Manchester this year. The show has free classes and workshops, and an exhibition showcasing everything from mats to relaxing retreats; no doubt I will be on the search for a new pair of patterned leggings! I’m looking forward to the handstand workshop – which promises that by the end of the class everyone will have been upside down in some way or other – and the Saturday night yoga disco, which has yoga choreography but you are free to dance pretty much however you like.

I’m pleased to say I have the honour of giving away two pairs of weekend passes (yep, you can go both days) to the Om Yoga Show on the 10th & 11th May at Manchester Central.

To win one pair, just leave a comment below with a way of contacting you if you win! For the other pair I am going to do a RT giveaway on my Twitter, @sjharradine.

This is to win one of two pairs of tickets to the Om Yoga Show Manchester and there is no cash alternative. Please make sure you can get to Manchester 10/11 May – there are no travel costs provided. The giveaway closes on the 13th April so you have a full month to enter.

Namaste, and good luck!

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Reebok Yoga Cloudpants Review

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I’m an avid follower of Tara Stiles on Instagram. She has a fantastic lifestyle, which comes from working hard as a yoga instructor, and her health and vitality just shine through. Ain’t no Insta-filter that can provide that glow.

Her lifestyle comes through sheer hard work, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a little slice of that? To be a little bit like your idols – whether it be attaining their form in yoga poses, or maybe wearing the same pants as them. That’s why celebrity endorsements work so well. And whilst I’m normally immune to that sort of thing, when it came to the Reebok and Tara collaboration.. I was sold.

These cloud pants showed up more and more in her Insta feed, and I gradually became obsessed. I was sad to find they weren’t available in my size on the European website – but I took a chance and went a size down. Now I’m glad I did, because they fit perfectly! They look tiny though are really stretchy when put on, but don’t go see-through at all; there’s also no draw-string which I thought would be an issue, as they are so high waisted I don’t foresee this being a problem.

I will report back post-workout to let you know how they fare! If you’re in Europe and a size L or XL, they’re still available here. Otherwise, America you have the full size allocation (if you’re a half size, go down). Lucky you!

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Image of Tara from her Instagram feed; also check out her NYC studios, Strala.