Rox Does Yoga

Yoga, Wellness, and Life

Train Travel Woes April 25, 2014

Filed under: yoga,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 2:19 pm
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One Monday last month, I got all my stuff together to go to a yoga class downtown on my lunch break from work. I packed my mat and yoga clothes into my yoga mat bag and even remembered to bring it with me on the way out the door! Unfortunately, I didn’t remember to grab it when I got off the train – I left the bag in the overhead rack. As soon as I got to the office, I realized what I’d done. I called Lost & Found right away and gave them a report, and I stopped by the Lost & Found office in the train station twice over the next week. No luck. My beautiful handmade yoga bag, my favorite tank top, and the fairly new pants that actually fit were all gone for good.

It’s such a small thing, but the whole experience has been kind of heartbreaking in its way, and really put me off my yoga for several weeks. (For starters, obviously I didn’t make it to class at lunch that day!)  I felt too stupid and sick about the whole thing to even start investigating replacements for my lost things for a while. The pants I should be able to replace with a trip to Old Navy, luckily. The top, not so much – it was a prAna brand top, but they don’t have one like it in their current collection; I only had this top to begin with because of a great sale that made it affordable. I’ve now signed up with prAna’s discount program for registered yoga teachers so I’ll be ready to order a new top as soon as they start selling one. But the yoga mat bag! The Etsy seller whom I purchased it from no longer seems to make them, and after scrolling through options for hours, I haven’t been able to find a comparable one. For now I’m settling on a bag from Gaiam just to get me through, but I think I’ll always dream of my lost bag.

The mat itself wasn’t terrible to lose; I’d had it since 2002, sure, but it was old and worn and I’d already ordered a new mat just for fun. It would’ve been nice to have some time to break the new mat in, though, and not have to pull it into circulation right away. Now I have a brand-new mat that isn’t sticky at all and that I slide around on. I’ve looked up some tips for breaking in a new mat, and I thought I’d share them here!

I’m planning to shower with mine and give it a warm water rinse. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try the salt scrub – it seems like a great idea. For the rest of it, I’m just trying to practice non-attachment and living in the present moment – what’s done is done. If my things are gone, then they’re gone, and I have to let them go and not cling on to my regret. Hopefully someone somewhere is enjoying the bag, and maybe the clothes were given to charity!


So You Want to Try Yoga, Part 3: Tips for Your First Class August 9, 2011

Filed under: yoga — R. H. Ward @ 1:20 pm
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Inspired by this article on how to find the right yoga instructor, I started writing some tips for those new to yoga. Parts 1 and 2 covered deciding what you’re looking for in a yoga class and how to find a class in your area. Now we’ll talk about some tips for your first yoga class.

It’s hard to know what to expect when you’re doing something new for the first time. Once you’ve identified a yoga class you’d like to attend, it’s a good idea to find out as much as you can in advance – this will help you to feel more comfortable on the day of the class. Do you have friends or colleagues who go to classes at this gym or studio? Pump them for information. Does the yoga studio, gym, or yoga teacher have a website? Check it out. Find the phone number and call for more info.

Here are some frequently asked questions about yoga classes. In general, the answers to these questions are applicable to most yoga classes, but it’s always good to confirm with your particular instructor! If the info isn’t on the website, call to double-check.

  • Do I need to bring my own yoga mat?

You don’t need a yoga mat – often the gym or studio will have mats you can borrow or rent for a small fee, and if they don’t, you can use a towel or try practicing right on the floor. Some studios may require that you use a mat, for both cleanliness and liability reasons (i.e., it’s easier to slip and fall on a hard wood floor if you don’t have a mat), so check your location’s policy.

When thinking about the mat question, consider whether you have knee or joint problems that make sitting on a hard floor difficult for you, or if you sweat a lot, or if you have cleanliness concerns (“Put my feet on a mat that other people’s feet have been on? Ew!”). If you want your own mat, you can get one very affordably. Target and Walmart carry yoga mats, and I’ve even seen them at stores like Five Below or the “under ten dollars” store. Extra-tall, extra-wide, and extra-thick mats are available to be ordered online if something like that appeals to you, but you don’t need a fancy mat when you’re just starting out – you can find something serviceable for under $20, no problem. But if you want to wait until you try the class before investing in any equipment, check with the studio to see if you can borrow or rent one there.

  • Do I need to bring anything else?

A bottle of water is always a good idea! Also, not a bad plan to bring a small towel, especially if you’re trying a hot room or athletic-style class, or if you know you sweat a lot. If you’re renting or borrowing a mat, you may want to consider bringing a full-size towel for cleanliness reasons – you can lay the towel over the mat so that the mat will cushion and support you without you actually putting your feet right on it. Also consider: ponytail holders, headbands, and bandannas, to keep your hair out of your face. Some people don’t seem to have an issue with this, but having hair in my eyes drives me nuts.

  • What sort of clothes do I need to wear?

For clothing, wear something comfortable that you can move around in. Some people prefer baggy shirts and shorts; I tend to prefer close-fitting and stretchy. Keep in mind that you may be upside down sometimes, so tuck your shirt in and make sure whatever’s under your shorts covers you adequately so none of your bits fall out. Pants or sweatpants are usually fine, but you probably want shorts for a hot room type class. Also, you don’t want to be overly distracted by your clothing – this isn’t the time to wear that one sports bra you have to adjust fourteen times throughout your workout (or the sports bra you fall out of!). Use your common sense and be comfortable.

Clothing to avoid: anything itchy, and anything restrictive that limits your movement. Jeans are a bad idea for yoga class (trust me, I know!). You may also want to avoid wearing clunky jewelry  – that necklace won’t seem so pretty when it smacks you in the face during downward dog, and big rings can cut into your hands. I usually just wear stud earrings and my wedding band.

Be aware too that yoga is typically done barefoot. Many first-timers don’t know this and get upset when they’re asked to remove their sneakers. Remember that this isn’t aerobics class or a treadmill – in yoga class, you need to be able to move, bend, and flex your feet. Also, the etiquette is different here than at a gym: many yoga studios ask you to leave your shoes at the door to help keep their floors clean. If you are truly uncomfortable having your feet out and proud, you can try practicing in socks, but bare feet will stick better to your yoga mat than socked feet will, and if you don’t have a mat, you will slide around a lot more on a hardwood floor in socks. It can be a big distraction. Be aware in advance that you’ll be asked to bare your toesies, and get used to the idea so you won’t be blindsided with it at your first class. (Really, no one cares what your feet look like, but if it’ll make you feel better, give yourself a little pedicure before class!)

  • How early should I arrive?

You probably want to show up to your first yoga class about 10-15 minutes early. Even just for practical reasons this is a good idea – if you’ve never been to the place before, you could get lost! Arriving early also gives you the opportunity to meet the instructor, sign a release form, pay for the class, and talk over any concerns you might have. If you’re nervous about starting a new thing, give yourself this time – rushing to get there and running in at the last minute will make you even more nervous and worked up. You will feel so much more comfortable if you have plenty of time to get to the studio, look around, check things out, talk to the instructor, and settle in.

Next time: making the most of your yoga class!


And now for something completely different March 29, 2011

Filed under: Miscellaneous,yoga lifestyle — R. H. Ward @ 8:35 pm
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Since my blog’s been kind of a downer lately, today let’s talk about clothes!

I’ve gotten kind of picky about what I want to wear to yoga class. I hate doing yoga in loose-fitting clothes; I feel like a baggy t-shirt is always hanging in my face during down dog and riding up somewhere I don’t want it to. Same thing with pants, if they’re too baggy, they get in my way when I’m practicing. And I don’t like long pants, because then my legs get too warm in a vigorous practice, but I also can’t stand shorts (ever). So here’s what I like to wear for yoga. (FYI, gentlemen, you might want to stop reading here.)


Capri/cropped pants, close fitting but not too tight (to avoid the dreaded “camel toe” look), preferably with some flare at the bottom so I can easily fold them up over my knee during practice if needed. Elastic waist – no tie, no zipper, and none of that fold-over fabric thing that’s so popular with the kids these days, since that’s just more fabric to get in my way when I’m bending.

Right now I have four pairs of yoga pants that meet all these requirements. Two of them came from Target a year and a half ago; I looked at Target more recently but everything I tried on was of really thin material and resulted in camel toe. I got one new pair two weeks ago at Old Navy that I love (they even have pockets!). The ON website is down right now so I can’t link ’em but they were in their new GoGA collection (Go Go Active or something like that). I also got a pretty solid pair at Marshalls this past weekend. First I went to REI, felt ill at the thought of spending $55 on yoga pants, and then went to Marshalls, where I found a pair for $14.99 that seem like they’ll be quite serviceable. They also have a cute pattern on the waistband (which does not fold over).


Spaghetti strap tank top with a built-in bra. Because, okay, I hate sports bras. I find them really constricting and uncomfortable, and I honestly do not have enough bulk up front to really need one. When I’m jogging, a sports bra is a necessary evil (although there’s enough room in mine to store my iPod in there (and I even have a big old-school video iPod), and because that thing is way supportive the iPod doesn’t bounce at all!), but when I’m doing yoga, it’s just another layer of fabric. Which is important, actually, because if the room is chilly I don’t want my girls pointing at everyone. I actually feel a little conflicted about this. It’s yoga and I want to wear clothes that are comfortable, which would mean no bra, but I feel like it’s discourteous to be braless and potentially make my fellow yogis feel uncomfortable about the view. Considering my future as a yoga teacher, I feel like it’s possibly not professional to be braless in my workplace? I’ve only had one yoga teacher ever who went noticeably braless, which I was mostly cool with at the time (several years ago), but she was wearing a white tank which I thought was not too classy and was kind of distracting.Thoughts?

So it seems like the best solution for me will be tanks with built-in bras. I’ve been shopping for these a lot lately, and it’s surprisingly difficult to find one that is thick enough to be serviceable in a cold room and that also has spaghetti straps (because one of the other things I dislike about sports bras is the racer back). I have two really good tank tops right now that totally do the job, and are stretchy and comfy and also long enough to overlap the top of my pants and thus avoid getting a draft on my back while in a bendy pose. One of them I inherited from my friend Patty, and one of them is this PrAna top (the pink pattern is really cute in person), which is currently on clearance at REI for way cheaper than you can typically purchase a PrAna top. I know the usual price of PrAna tops because I did some top-shopping at REI this weekend too and didn’t buy anything because while yeah, they make nice stuff, I refuse to spend $48 on a freakin’ tank top. (Marshalls was a bust, no pun intended, in the tank department.) So right now I have two excellent tanks and a bunch of Old Navy basic cotton tanks that I have to wear with a sports bra. Hoping to find more of the built-in kind and phase out the ON tanks eventually. Or maybe look for a sports bra with spaghetti straps instead of a racer back, although I kind of want to stop purchasing sports bras altogether until my running bra falls apart, which shouldn’t be for a while as that thing has structural integrity like you wouldn’t believe.

So, dear readers, what do you find comfortable to wear for yoga? And where do you buy it?