Portland fit fix: Rejuvenate, refresh and replenish at YogaPod

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Contrary to the 21-day myth, there’s now scientific evidence that it takes about two months — or 66 days, to be exact — to form a new habit. But thanks to YogaPod, a vibrant and transformational yoga studio in Portland, I’d argue it only takes about a week to fall back into a much-neglected, yet healthy, routine.

Bear with me for a moment: Like those green, cruciferous veggies, we all know how good yoga is for us, but I find (in my experience, at least) that it takes some time to develop my palate enough to be able to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate it, especially during training when the goal is to keep your head above water with workouts. Anyone else?

Well, this is precisely why Carolyn (one of my LUNA teammates) and I decided to get back on track with a recent seven-day #YogaBinge at YogaPod.

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Not only would a week-long yoga immersion aid in off-season recovery, I figured, but it’d also be a great way to see how one of the newer workout facilities in the city stacked up. YogaPod founders, husband and wife team Gerry and Nicole Wienholt, expanded the Boulder-based brand to Portland this past summer after seeing a need for a luxury yoga studio in Portland’s Pearl District, and true to form it’s got a high-end look with a welcoming feel.

If there’s one word that comes to mind upon entering YogaPod, it’s community. From the friendly management and front-desk staff (shout out to Anthony, a fellow ultra runner!) to the inspirational chalk board in the hallway, and from the relaxed vibe in the space to the teachers who take a genuine interest in their students, it’s clear that this place is rooted in creating an experience full of positivity, clarity and compassion for all who enter.

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And as far as the classes go, we took advantage of the convenience of morning, afternoon and evening slots to get a good sampling of what YogaPod has to offer. Throughout the course of the week we toggled back and forth between the two rooms — both clean, light and spacious — for Restorative, PodHot and PodFlow.

Classes are well-balanced (i.e. not all Chaturanga Dandasana-heavy) and the music is right up my alley — a thoughtful blend of traditional instrumentals with some newer songs that gently flow with movements. When Carolyn and I compared notes, we both agreed that our time at YogaPod was the perfect antidote to a hectic week — so much so, in fact, that we both found ourselves feeling like the time passed quickly in each session.

If you’re local and want to jump-start your own yoga journey, YogaPod offers a free week of classes for first-timers. Or if you just want to dip your toe in the yoga waters before jumping in, come check out their free community class on Saturdays at 5 p.m. with Ati, one of my favorite yogis in the city.

She brings such lightness and enjoyment to her practice that you can’t help but want to come back for more. And that habit — for rejuvenating your body, refreshing your mind and replenishing your spirit — is one you won’t want to break!

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Interested in learning more? Check out YogaPod’s website at Portland.YogaPodCommunity.com.

A night with Nike Training Club

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When it comes to Kool-Aid, I’ll drink whatever flavor Nike’s got on tap. So when my gal Sam, ambassador extraordinaire, put out the invite for a week-long extravaganza of Nike Training Club events, I knew we were in for a good time.

Vivi, my workout partner-in-crime, and I headed down to meet up with the ladies at The Box SF on Tuesday night to check out the yoga session. An instructor from Yoga to the People was on hand to lead us through a Vinyasa Flow class, which was a much-needed (read: mellow) workout after Saturday’s adventure in the bay and Sunday’s long run.

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We arrived to  a serene space filled with pink and purple yoga mats. After a checking in and checking our bags, we grabbed a spot up front with some of our fellow November Project peeps (yup, the group that crushes hills together must also work out the quad and hammie kinks together).

And it was a good thing we got there early because the space filled up quickly. Apparently word got ’round about what a blast everyone had at the previous evening’s kickboxing workout; here in SF, we’re like moths to a flame when it comes to serious sweat sessions.

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While we got down to business with our vinyasas, the Nike crew snapped shots and filmed the session with GoPro cameras from various angles. A few of the participants also modeled Nike’s yoga gear, so we got to “ooh,” “ahh” and “om” over all the the new fun prints and brightly-colored products in action.

My hands tend to slip more than my feet, so I’m not sure about the shoes/wraps, but I am a sucker for an awesome printed tight. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll get me motivated to hit the mat more often…

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After the session wrapped up, we mingled for a bit over snacks and spa water before a good chunk of the group was bussed back to Niketown. If definitely got me interested in the weekly NTC classes, and I’m hoping to hit another event or two — tonight is a barre class, Friday’s a run along the Embarcadero, and Saturday is another NTC workout at Niketown — to round out the week.

Wanna join in on the fun? Check out the NTC Facebook page to see if your area’s participating. If not, there’s always the option of living vicariously through the NTC app — I can’t speak to it yet, since I just downloaded it myself to test, but at first glance it looks like a great resource for some hardcore home workouts, courtesy of Nike’s pro athletes and master trainers.

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Have you tried the NTC workouts? If so, what did you think?

Hope you’re having a happy, active week!

Say hello to Namatse, goodbye to stinky yoga mats

Source: Namatse

Source: Namatse

Riddle me this, yogis: We wouldn’t dare re-wear clothing we’ve sweated in over and over, but why are we ok doing the equivalent with our yoga mats?

Just like leaving your stinky gym socks crumpled on the floor for weeks on end, storing a rolled up, dirty, sweaty mat can breed mildew, funky smells – or worse, according to this article in The New York Times.

So when my pal Jamie Walker, founder of SweatGuru and FitApproach (also an avid ultramarathoner and yogi), told me about a new company that had come up with a solution, I was intrigued and had to check it out.

Enter Namatse (cute, huh?), the first yoga mat hanging solution. I sat down with company founder and co-creator Neal Margulis to talk about his latest business venture, as well as why we should be showing our mats some more love.

KineticFix: Clever name! Tell us a little more about what Namatse is.

Neal Margulis: Thanks; we’d like to think so! Namatse is our solution for rumpled, still-damp-from-your-last-class yoga mats. Instead of stashing your mat in the closet or trying to hang it over the staircase, we have created a sleek, durable and space-efficient clip that you can hang your mat from, keeping it flat and dry. Whether it be from a wall or in the shower, the Namatse clip makes cleaning, storing and drying your mat as simple as a child’s pose. Namatse reminds us to show our mats some love, saying “namaste” to longer-lasting, fresher-looking yoga mats for our favorite practice.

KF: Your sites says, “Be good to your mat and it will be good to you, too.” Why do we need better mat storage?

NM: Who wants to do yoga on a wrinkled and smelly mat? Yoga is a practice of compassion and gratitude, so why not show that same compassion and thanks to your mat? It’s much easier to stay focused and balanced when the ground beneath you (your mat) is flat and happy.

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Source: Namatse

KF: Agreed! So how does it work?

NM: Namatse is super easy to use. There are three ways to hang your Namatse clip:

  1. First, Namatse easily mounts to your wall using the peel-and-stick 3M Command Strips, which are non-marking, extra-durable 100 percent-removable adhesives.
  2. Next, we include a set of screws if you’d like to permanently attach your Namatse clip to a wall.
  3. Finally, we also include a traditional hanger loop that attaches to the clip so the mat can be hung from a closet rod, over a door or even in the shower.

Then all you have to do is prop open the clamp, place your yoga mat how you’d like it to hang, and close the clip with it’s smooth, crafted edges over your mat…and voila! Your mat will appreciate it immediately.

KF: What was your inspiration for it?

NM: Once six year-old Arden [Neal’s son] found out the Yoga poses had animal names like ‘cat’ and ‘cow,’ it wasn’t long before he was making animal sounds and developing his own style of yoga. Having a clean, dry yoga mat accessible became a priority. Unable to find a commercially available solution, we started coming up with ideas, and Namatse was born.

Source: Namatse

Source: Namatse

KF: What was the development process like?

NM: I was very lucky to have the help of my dear friend, Greg Hayes, who has decades of experience turning smart ideas into sleek, highly-functional objects.

Together, we set out to make the ideal clip: one that was not just lightweight and sturdy, but also attractive and easy to use. We used advanced 3D printing to prototype a clip that can hold the heaviest mat made, but that is also easy to operate and doesn’t harm your mat.

The clamp easily props open for simple placement of the mat. The clasps are effective, but have edges that are gentle on your mat. To make sure Namatse fits any yogi’s lifestyle, we created the three options for hanging Namatse: mounted with screws, non-marking, removable adhesives, and a shower hanger. Then we chose high-quality, recyclable ABS plastic to tread lightly on our planet.

KF: And why the campaign through Kickstarter?

NM: We decided to run a Kickstarter campaign to help create awareness for our product, get real market feedback and, of course, help fund it. We’re a small, family business and really want this product to help solve people’s problems.

KF: Have people noticed any additional benefits as a result of using Namatse?

NM: Yes! Your yoga mat becomes a beautiful piece of art in your home that provides a daily reminder of how great your practice makes you feel and provides you an invitation to practice more!

Source: Namatse

Source: Namatse

KF: How long have you been practicing yoga & how’d you get into it?

NM: I’ve been practicing yoga for a little over one year. I started my love for yoga and practiced at the 2012 Wanderlust Festival in North Lake Tahoe.

KF: Got a proudest moment & toughest move you’re still trying to master?

NM: Although I can’t hold it for long, using brute force, I can push up from crow into a handstand. Even after a year of yoga, its still a challenge just to sit up straight.

KF: Any final words on why people should back Namatse?

NM: It’s time to show your mat a little compassion for all that it has given you!

Thanks to Neal for sitting down to chat; for more information and to help make Namatse a reality, visit the Kickstarter page here

Join Amnesty’s first live, online ‘Yoga Day for Human Rights’ tomorrow

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Roll out your mat for a good cause tomorrow, and join world-renowned yoga instructor, Mark Laham, in a one-of-a-kind online yoga event to benefit Amnesty International’s human rights work.

Mark will be hosting a live, webcam yoga class via online event platform provider Powhow.

Basic registration is $20 and will enable Amnesty International to campaign and raise awareness on the case of Iranian human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh. The full package, which includes an Amnesty t-shirt, yoga mat, silicon bracelets and a class credit on the Powhow website, is $50.

The event takes place at noon, EST (11:00am CDT). For more information or to register, visit www.powhow.com/amnesty-yoga-day.