Our Guest Planker Angela author of Cloud of Chaos ~
I was sitting at a bar with a friend of mine, Manhattan in hand, and I commented that I would really love to have a yoga body. Pause to sip Manhattan. Then I said, "I guess that means I need to start doing yoga."
Many years ago I did yoga on a pretty regular basis. I had a mat at home, which I used to replicate on my own what I'd learned in class, and I even could do some of the more difficult poses. I was young. I was bendy. But that was then and this is now. As much as I hate to admit it, I'm not as flexible as I used to be, and sometimes those punishing cardio sessions that feel great at the time later leave me feeling, well, punished. Yoga is the logical complement to my other workouts, as well as a much-needed stress release. To feel good and healthy - not to mention achieving the fashionably svelte physique that my favorite white jeans require - it was time to venture into a yoga class.
There are numerous other benefits to maintaining a regular yoga practice than those that are more obvious. The meditation, deep relaxation, gentle stretching and breathing that are integral to most forms of yoga are extremely helpful for people dealing with traumatic events. There is research that shows how yoga can help those who struggle with back pain, migraines, depression and eating disorders. Yoga can help cure a cold, can ease the anguish of grieving, and can significantly ease pain, improve sleep and even reduce anxiety in cancer patients.
Despite the fact that I belong to a gym that boasts some of the best yoga instructors in town, I hadn't once availed myself of this privilege until today. Cardio sure, several sessions with a trainer doing weights and other things, Zumba as often as possible. No yoga. I have no good reason for this except force of habit and the fact that yoga classes are held on the mysterious second floor where I'm quite sure the atmosphere is different - and by this I don't mean ambiance. But I finally worked up the nerve to dip my toe back in the yoga pool. Yin Yoga seemed like a good place to start since the class is mostly about increasing flexibility through holding passive poses. The class was exactly what I needed - relief for sore muscles and a gentle entry into what I hope will become a regular yoga practice. The instructor was good, I found I could do most of the poses without any problem (although from now on any tv watching I do will include sitting on my feet to stretch out the front of my ankles), and I left class feeling not only energized but inspired to come back. A yogini is born.
Now, to look the part.
It has been a longstanding habit of mine to treat myself to nice workout gear to keep me motivated to go to the gym. The first thing I did when I got home after class was pull up yoga sites to start planning my new wardrobe. Pants to turn down when I have a ripped belly to show off. Cocoon sweaters to keep warm while swanning about on the still-mysterious second floor.
One of my favorite sources for yoga clothes is Prancing Leopard Organics. As the name suggests, everything at Prancing Leopard is made of the most wonderful organic fabrics. They have a few different knits that bring varying textures and drape to the amazing pants, tops and cover-ups. Their Tunic Antibes is designed to flatter any body type and smooth out all the edges. Several pieces are work-worthy. I absolutely adore the Aix-en-Provence Jumpsuit. This is a piece that can take you straight from the yoga studio to a night out on the town - throw on a leather jacket and a great pair of shoes and you're good to go.
Then, of course, I'll need a terrific new yoga mat. For fun yoga mats, there is nowhere else to turn but Plank. I've known about Plank for a while; I picked up one of their bags at a resort where I stayed in Hawaii and they sponsored a series of roof-top yoga classes in Boston's too-cool-for-school Fort Point neighborhood that had friends who attended raving for months. More than anything though, I knew of Plank as the company that specializes in whimsical mats featuring funky designs. They're just perfect for the fashionable yogini who wants a bit of cheek with her chic. And anyone who knows me will happily volunteer that cheeky is one of my most admirable qualities!
My favorite Plank mat is the Pill Print from their photo series. The irony of it cracks me up absolutely every time. Let's just hope the hilarity wears off before I start doing headstands. Since the reason I'm doing yoga in the first place is to be healthy, it would be a shame if I broke my neck because my mat made me giggle! In the same vein is the Wood Style Signature Plank. You can just imagine someone dropping her cupcake in the middle of sun salutation. There are other designs, like the Cobra Mat (which freaks me out) and the Shag Mat which looks like I could actually nuzzle up to the retro carpet image, as well as great accessories. With Plank's new launch this month, I can't wait to see what they come up with next!
Here's to my new yoga practice. When I can do the Scorpion Pose, I'll let you know!
You can find this guest post also featured on Angela's blog Cloud of Chaos, where she writes about fashion, culture and urban life.