I have been practicing yoga for 14 years and my practice has slowly progressed in that time. I have had plenty of setbacks, from back problems to a MCL knee injury to hyper-extending the same knee while skiing. One thing this does is help me keep a humble perspective on my yoga practice. I am a type A personality, and I like to push myself, but due to my injuries, this is not always possible. My body ebbs and flows more often as I approach my mid 40’s, and it recovers more slowly.Simply put, I have good days and bad days. I have begrudgingly accepted this slow decline as a part of my life, but while I have to age, I don’t have to give in and become a 40 something year old with an out of shape body, a beer gut and low energy.
This year has been a pretty good start for me. While I am fighting tennis elbow on both arms and a wrist problem, my older injuries are not kicking up too much of a storm. This has allowed me to start my goal of lifting weights 3 times a week with a focus on my chest, arms and shoulders. I am a couple of months into my routine and thus far I am happy with the results. I don’t want to over bulk up, that is not my goal, but rather I want to tone up and develop a more cut look.
That brings me to my yoga practice. Yoga is great at developing legs, abs, shoulders and bi/triceps, but is abysmal at chest exercising. That is what led me to cutting back on yoga and adding more weight lifting to my routine. If you are a guy and want flexibility and muscles I highly recommend you consider yoga 2-3 times a week and lifting 3 times a week. Adding these two very different styles of exercising together will produce nice results. The big upside, I have found, is that arm posses such as crow, side crow, and peacock are much easier to hold.
Since my right wrist is tender, I try to avoid putting too much pressure on it. I discovered the other day I could do peacock with just one arm under me rather than both. This is because my arms are stronger from the weight lifting I am doing. I also can do side crow just using my left arm for support and my right arm just for balance. So if you are looking to take your yoga practice to the next level, I highly recommend integrating weight training into your regimen. This will dramatically improve your inversion practice.
Owning both of these mats and getting questions about them all the time I thought I would update where I am today with these mats in reference to my post last year. I now practice at 2 locations that my studio has here in Dallas and I have the Manduka Mat at one studio and the Jade at the other. The Manduka is, in my opinion, the best mat on the market. I have constantly used it for the better part of a year and it has held up flawlessly. It is a heavier more ” industrial mat” that I think is ideal for a really serious yoga practitioner. It has held its shape, has not blistered and does a very nice job of not absorbing the massive amounts of sweat I drench it with on a regular basis. I have only bothered to wipe it down with vinegar one time to remove a little stickiness. For me it is the best mat on the market. Do be aware it is not a soft giving mat. Part of its durability is the hard surface it has.
The Jade on the the other hand has really not held up terribly well. I demoted this mat to back up mat until February when my studio opened up a second location. I then started using it there. While the bizarre stretching seems to have disappeared the mat is now blistering on one side. I can only assume the stretching was sweat related and giving the mat 8 months of hiatus was enough to dry it back out.
I am planning on swapping out the mat soon and purchasing another Manduka PRO Yoga Mat
Update as of 12/2016. Hard to believe it has been 5 years, and I still have this mat and it is going strong. Well worth the money. I am sure by now I would have purchased several cheap $20 mats otherwise.
I already own a pair of Prana and 2 pairs of Be Present yoga pants so I thought I would try lululemons since all the women in my studio rave about them. At a $100 they are pricey, but I am impressed with the elasticity of the fabric. They fit me snugly around the crotch and thighs, but I’m not a thin build and since they stretch it is a comfortable fit, surprisingly. The attention to detail, I think, is what separates these from the other 2 manufactures that I own. They have an elastic band at the waste that is stretchy fabric, rather than a material with elastic sown through it. They also have a continuous elastic drawstring with no ends so you don’t have to worry about the washing machine pulling it out during the spin cycle.
On the minus side I wish they did not have front pockets, they simply pooch out a bit and aren’t flattering. They were also long when I bought them but the store took them up for free. Problem is they are still long.
Of course the ultimate test is how they perform in the studio, which I am quite pleased with. Since they are very elastic they flex without problem, even in Utthan Pristhasana (lizard). They also do a nice job of breathing and letting me sweat since I leave a pool everyday. Definitely worth the money if you plan on wearing them often.
As my practice continues to evolve and my athleticism increases on the mat I am once again on the hunt for a satisfactory yoga mat. I, like so many other started with the store bought $20 variety and used those for years. Which was fine when I was doing yoga once a week and usually not in a warm room. The sweat wasn’t much of a factor, nor the mat slipping. But as I stepped up to a daily practice this past year I quickly reached the limit of the cheap latex mats that are sold all over the place. As I started practicing in a heated studio I would drench my mat and half way through class I would slip and slide all over the mat. I decided to invest $60 in a yogitoes mat towel, which are great at absorbing sweat, I highly recommend these if you sweat a lot , they have little rubber knobs all over the back of them that prevent them from moving much. But, the mat still gave me issues, as it quickly started to break down and blister on the surface.
So I did my homework and decided on a Jade mat after talking to several people that liked them. I think my mistake was in talking to women who don’t sweat like a man does. I bought this mat back in Dec. and enjoyed it for several months. But the mat apparently is somehow impacted by the humidity and sweat. I’m no chemist but my mat seems to have become a lot more elastic. It could be months of sweat seeping through my yogitoes towel and it is simply moist or it could be the humidity. I started to notice this past month that my mat was moving forward in my poses. It literally was stretching out underneath me while I was in downdog. The result is a mat that seems to bend and curl at the most inoportune moments and I am constantly having to adjust it and pull it back 3-4 times in class. I joke with my instructers that I should place my mat at the back of the room and by the end of class I would be at the front.
One of my instructors, Katherine, let me use her Manduka for a class. I noticed a remarkable difference in the mat versus mine. No movement or bunching up. The mat stayed put and I didn’t have to mess with it. I was sold and ordered one at Amazon immediately. I am now waiting for it to come in. I am thinking I will bring the Jade home and set it out to air out for a long time then put it in my trunk when I am at other studios.
It took a lot of digging and research to decide on what pair of mens yoga pants I wanted to buy. I decided on Prana Sutra pants. They cost about $70 at Amazon and are made from hemp, PET and Lycra. I am a size 36 and had read somewhere that they shrink so I got the XL. Small mistake. The XL are more like size 38 and look a little ridiculous on me. I am going to have to have them tailored in a couple of inches to fit right. But since they tie up I was able to wear them to yoga 4 times in the past week.
The first thing I noticed is that they don’t constrict my movements. I do some deep warriors and running mans and expected to have to adjust these pants every 2 seconds. The only time I had to adjust them was while we were doing a low resting lunge. The pants do breathe and I sweat through them completely everytime I wear them. But I don’t get hot in them or itchy. The most important piece for me is in my arm exercises like bakasana ( crow pose) or running man. I usually have to stop my flow and dry off my arms and legs then place 2 small tows on my knees to try to get some friction. With these pants that is no longer a problem. I just go into the pose and I’m done. In our level 2/3 class we jump from Adho Mukha Svanasana ( down dog) to Bakasana ( crow) 3 times. This is impossible to do with sweaty arms but a breeze with pants on.
I highly recommend these pants, just make sure they fit right.