5 things you can do every day to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the opposite of going in autopilot. Gulping a cup of coffee on the go from a take away container is not the same as sitting down, leaning back against the chair, and sipping your coffee bit by bit from a porcelain cup.

Apply that to life and you will see things differently, feel differently and think differently. You will likely realize that you don’t need more to be more content. You just need to go deeper.

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Paying attention to the little things that surround us becomes very hard when we are rushing from one errand to another, from one to do list to another. It’s like trying to see the landscape from a bullet train.

We live in an overstimulating environment here in Singapore,  and it does get to you eventually if you don’t consciously make an effort stop going with the motions.

 Mindfulness practice is about taking some time to be in the here and the now. When you are doing something or when you are taking a break. 

It’s putting your mind and focus on it. Here and Now. Not in the past (too much of this causes depression), not in the future (too much of this causes anxiety) and not in your imaginary thoughts (too much of this causes delusion).

The good news is that you don’t need to go to a course, download an app or read a book to do it, although it helps to start the habit. If taking time off to do nothing and meditate is impossible for you…

There are things we do every day that can become your mindful moment.

You don’t need a lot of time, just a few minutes will do.

MYTHBUSTER! Meditation is not putting out all thoughts, It’s to focus your attention into one thing for a longer period of time. The mind keeps jumping like a monkey from one thought to another in a matter of seconds, unless we give it something to entertain it for a while. Lack of thoughts (meditation) is the result of the effort, not the effort itself. Mindfulness is a mediation technique.

 

Here’s 5 things you can do to make every day more mindful

1- Do not do multitask when you eat.

Focus on your food. Not your phone, or your laptop or even the person you have in front of you. We eat minimum 3 times a day so there you have 3 possible mindful meditative moments.

I have an ability to go into ‘meditation mode’ at certain moments (read getting so absorbed into what I’m doing that I forget about everything around me) and one of them is when I’m eating.

Sometimes I’m so into my food I stop hearing what My Lovely Boyfriend the Troglodyte says. So instead of taking me out of my moment, he stares at me and the faces I do, the noises I make, and he says; ‘I can see you are really enjoying that’. Mindful moment for him, mindful moment for me. Double check!

I had this article half written when I went to a mindful eating workshop by Tansy Boggon at Balanced Living in Singapore.

The most valuable thing I learnt is that digestion starts in the senses.

I always thought the first step was chewing your food properly but when we smell the food, we look, we touch, we heard anything related to the food experience, our body starts preparing to receive the food. The brain sends signals to the digestive system to start producing the juices that help digestion.

Therefore eating without thinking about eating makes it more difficult for the body to digest food. There you go. Two benefits for the price of one! I just can’t resist a bargain. Try paying attention to all the details around your eating experience. It can be your daily mindful moment.

(SHORTCUT: I don’t want to read more about your life now, take me to number 2)

I have a student that has lots of digestive issues. I went to have lunch with her once and she literally hoovered what she had in front on her. It took me 3 times more to finish my soup than for her to eat her eggs ben. If you do the same try this.

Next time we go for lunch I will ask her her look at the food for 30 seconds after it arrives. I will try to make her smell and touch the food even, to tell me what she perceives. Then I will make her mentally plan how she’s going to eat it by asking her. Where to start, how to divide etc. Hopefully that will give her body enough time to prepare.  If the Tea ceremonies in China and Japan take about 45 min. I think we can take a good 30 min. to eat our meals properly.

You can be social when mindful eating, just take be aware you can’t do two things at the same time, and slow down to take turns. My Lovely Boyfriend the Troglodyte and I make it a point to have a proper sit down home made dinner several times a week. That’s our mindful eating moment together and there’s 50% talk 50% silence. The rest of the days I’m guilty of rushing it often, but hey nobody is perfect.

One thing I don’t barge on is my tea or coffee moment. It’s my special moment. Add a nice biscuit to it and I’m a happy camper. If you love coffee or tea you van make it your mindful moment.

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Coffee here and coffee there #ootd

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2- Acknowledge others

Do you pass by the same people every day and don’t ever say hi? Do you know your neighbors? To answer these questions you probably need to ask yourself first if you pay any attention to the people that surround you.

People watching in a cafe is a good option. The ones in the crossroad between Orchard and Scott’s road (Marriott Hotel, Prive, Starbucks, Overeasy) give you a view to a great deal of people, but I think this should be taken a step further.

It’s easy to use things for your mindful moment, but if you do it with people it has a double effect. On you and on them.

Just nodding, smiling or say hi to passer by makes the person do the same to you. It can be a bus driver, a neighbor you don’t know. A construction worker, gardener, cleaner. You can even venture to mention something you notice about a receptionist or a clerk. Something not related to the task in hands.

Here’s  3 recent occasions I saw myself doing that. Paying attention to the people around me, noticing the differences and mentioning those to them to give acknowledgement.

  • Post office. I found in the Singpost office in ION a bubbly Malay lady that used to work in the Tanglin office, and wear braces. I commended about the change of office and the braces. You should have since her smile (post braces)
  • Gardeners. To decorate my house warming party I picked scraps of leaves from the mountain the gardeners make in my condo. I went to them an explained my intentions. They were happy to help me. They are usually those invisible people making everything look tidy, so I took the time to talk to them, ask them about the job, hear them.
  • Guards. Every other day I pass by the house of the Prime Minister on my bike. It’s a shortcut I take to work. There’s always guards at the door. The special Nepalese forces. They have different hats depending on the time of the day and weather. I tap on my imaginary hat as I pass by and give them a thumbs up or something. It must be really boring to stare at the same wall all day every day. The poor things.

It’s incredible how little attention we pay to strangers. I was recently in a Yoga Workshop by New Angle Yoga, Hands-on assists where we did very interesting exercises. It was about helping students feel the Yoga postures better, and to raise the awareness of the need of support and the role of a supporter. In Yoga and in life.

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Trish and Julie from New Angle Yoga

At some point we were asked to walk around the the room randomly and at the sound of the gong stop and look at what we had in front. For the first three rounds we all looked at objects in the room. Then the teacher asked us to look at the person you have in front instead. We all sadly noticed the objects before the people.

Then she made us stare at them for a full 30 seconds, felt like an eternity. It was intense but it did the job: Engraving the message in our brains. Kudos to Trish.

 


3- Take 5 min to rest outdoors.

Oh the great outdoors… There’s no such thing in Singapore but you can still find solace. Whether on your way somewhere or just coming back home, just pause, sit down and pay attention to what you have around you. Close the eyes if possible and listen to the sounds. If not just stare vaguely at a point far away.

This is another bargain. Mindful and a tried and tested creativity boost. When we de-focus we access the subconscious mind and ideas arise. It’s like switching of from the running commentary of the outside and inside our mind and boom! The magic happens.

When we are waking up or about to fall asleep is when we have more access to our hidden mind. That’s why power naps work so well to boost creativity.  I learnt this from Carlos Pomeda in one his workshops.

You can find time to do this for example at the bus stop. Put your phone down and look at the surroundings. Notice the signboards the plants the floor the sky. Look up and down, left and right. Notice everything that you can see from where you stand. How many buses stop there, check where do they go. Notice the houses or buildings you can see from the bus stop etc. If you don’t know what they are ask yourself what could they be or imagine them inside.

Detailed observation is a great tool for mindfulness.

You could do this at your work space too or pretty much anywhere except when you are sitting on a plane, but it’s better to do it outdoors, just for a change and a breath of fresh air.

Noticing  food, noticing people, noticing your surroundings and also why not also noticing your own body? Yoga Nidra, also known as Yoga sleep, awake rest, is also a very powerful way to induce a meditative state with a simple body scan sequence.

 

4- Journal before going to bed.

I recently started doing this, after reading an article in UK Glamour Magazine about list making its negative effects and bullet journalists.

It’s not writing your diary like when you were a kid. (Dear Diary: Today that cute guy in class looked at me. OMG! I think he likes me. I hope I didn’t blush) Bullet journaling is about keeping it short.

A good thought generates a good feeling, a food feeling triggers creation of serotonin hormone, that one makes our brain happy. Yoga’s Pancha Kosha theory (and in a nutshell the entire body mind connection hoo-ha) is this by the way. In a nutshell.

Just write one thing you are thankful for each day, before you go to bed.
Don’t over do it or you will end up like this…

Take a moment to notice that you are here in bed now, writing THE good moment of the day and being thankful for it. Recalling the day, looking for the good, choosing the moment, recreating that feeling, will all help you focus on something else that’s not what you need to do tomorrow but watch out!

Don’t get too caught up on the facts but stay with the feelings and the now. 

This is something great to do with your partner too. Just ask him/her to tell you one good thing that happened today before going to bed.

I use the Thoughts and Reflections Journey from Typo that has one page for day with 3 sections, so you can fit 3 years there. If one day you forget you can always turn back the pages and write what you remember.

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Image credit : Katie Te

5- Observe nature.

Nature is amazing, really. The shape of a flower, the variety of plants, the leaves, how tall trees are, how incredible it is that water and air magically turn in to matter. Think of the space they take and how significant plants are. They are all around us and they are a feast for the eyes.

I’m a very visual person so this works wonders for me. Like mindful coloring. Any art and music can fall into this same category. Call it appreciation of beauty. Pets and kids are also fascinating. Like wild creatures (I wish I had done a boomerang video of this fella)

One of my students told me she likes the trees here so much that sometimes she even stops the car to admire them and take photos of them.

I love the lush vegetation in Singapore, it makes me awe every single time. The jungle is just amazing and intricate enough to keep your eyes entertained in every detail and switch off from the rest. Look at the colors the shapes the size of the trees and you got yourself a mindful moment.

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This is the view from my balcony. It makes it easier!

I hope this helps! Pick your thing and stick to it for a while. Like the muscles, the brain requires training. Don’t be frustrated if you can’t lift a 10Kg dumbbell with one arm on the first day at the gym.

Until the next time! Xx

Namaste.

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How to wear Yoga clothes all day and look glamorous

Dear women doing everything in their active wear:

Finally the world has reacted to the strange phenomena of you walking around everywhere on your sport clothes, like you are on the way to the gym when maybe you are not… Some clever people out there came up with this active wear spoof and it’s a checkpoint charlie.

I think after this we don’t have a free pass anymore. I have to confess I do everything #inmyactivewear, but I’m a Yoga Teacher so chances are I am doing errands before or after my classes.

(SHORTCUT – Cut the crap and take me to the tricks)

That said, this happens to normal people too. Carrying around changes of clothes is a pain and sometimes there’s just no time to change between sports and life. I’m assuming you are not “doing nothing in your active wear” and you do NOT want others look at you this way right? If that’s the case keep reading. I think active wear is great but that’s why I want to draw the line and write this post.

I try to make my active wear (my work clothes) look classy or trendy so I do not look like the women int he video all the time. Even if I have a reason.  I wear active wear all the time and to me there has to be certain degree of style and dignity. AKA Not looking like a clown.

To me my clothes are a way of self expression as much as a presentation card to my clients and students, so yes It’s pretty important  (Isn’t this the third post on the topic? hehehe) Let’s get started.

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I’m quite sure this is the Selene Hoodie from Nux. Leggings are Rio Capri from the same brand.

I have had occasions where I really didn’t care, but I had others where I had to be able to disguise my active wear for a social event. I did this simply because I don’t think It’s very elegant to dress outdoors all the time like if you were in the gym. If you disagree, I invite you to stop here and read my post about Menstrual Cups for example 🙂

Once I went to an Embassy party after a Yoga a workshop, and I think I managed to pull that out decently… I think…

Where I come from people don’t wear sports clothes unless you are doing sports. Or at least that was the case until recently. Yes I’m from Europe, not from America. From southern Europe, to make things worse, where fashion matters.  Running shoes with dockers are not acceptable even on an office that has dress down Friday guys. Not even in a start up. There they even have an entire separate hipster dress code but it does not include active wear.

For us in the South of Europe not really acceptable to walk around on your gym clothes all day. Funcional yes, comfortable yes, practical yes, but pretty!? Stylish? Elegant? Makes you look like a respectable person? Really, lets be honest: No.

A few years ago people started glamorizing uneducated people on TV, in their active wear. Giving them so much media attention  has the effect of validating it. It makes sports gear socially acceptable. Tolerance by over exposure i call it, and it’s even made it trendy to some extend.

I’m not talking about the ladies in the spoof of the video. I’m talking about Barbie Fitness. This is a Barbie Fitness. If you actually like Barbie Fitness you can also stop reading here.

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Andressa Ferreira (AKA Barbie Fitness): Well done dear, but please don’t go out to a bar like that. Let me guess, your biggest ambition is to eradicate world hunger…

The Barbie Fitness effect

Check point charlie. Don’t call me intolerant before you ask yourself if you would not turn the eyes in shock if you see somebody dress like this in a coffee shop.

There’s an alternative to this. The golden era of Aerobics with those 80s TV stars like Jane Fonda, is way over. And the great news is that the amount of “wearable” street smart exercise clothes that have come out recently is incredible.  It’s actually trendy and you see that’s a very common uniform in Orchard Rd. You don’t have to go on tacky mode.

There’s definitely a boom for Athleisure, so let’s just start stating that you can move from looking like the friends of Vicky Pollard (the hot ones and not so hot ones) to looking like Gigi Hadid very easily.

There’s no need to go all fashion victim on active wear like Barbie Fitness or end up like a Christmas tree of neon Lycra. That’s what I see happening a lot. When Vicky Pollard goes to the gym and wants too look like Gigi Hadid, she becomes Barbie Fitness, or this:

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Suddenly the active wear ladies seem like innocent day time comedy. Right?

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ALERT!

Jokes aside. If you made it here, thank you. Now I’m going to make a pause and use the chance to promote diversity online. As I was doing my research for this article, I bumped into some things that made me activate my social responsibility mode. Barbie Fitness is not alone. They are a tribe, the are very numerous and they LOVE showcasing themselves in social media. That gives them attention and validation.

Because of this, they end up monopolizing the stereotype of what a good Yogi or a good Yoga teacher should look like.  Extend this to any fitness instructor. To some extent also to what a “healthy person” should look like too.

I will write another post one day about how a good Yogi doesn’t necessarily make a good teacher in yogamasala.org , but for the moment let me introduce you to DIVERSITY in the yoga world.

This is Jessamyn Stanley, she recently tried cross-fit and it was really inspiring

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This is Bette Calman, also known as the Yoga Grandma.

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And this is my dear Lara Chandrini AKA MintYogini

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Point made.
Now back to the topic.

 


Get going all day on your Yoga clothes (with class and style)

Starting point: Leggings Galore

Leggings… where to start.

If you are anything like me you will appreciate the snug hugging sensation. Yes, the one that controls the wobble of the thighs. Also the lack of any sort of tightness or strangling anywhere. The flexible waistband that doesn’t sink into your belly flesh,  that can accommodate food babies, PMS babies and random water retention babies. It’s kind of liberating.

I firmly believe that leggings are made in the woman section of heaven.

No chauvinism here. In fact my friend @talltreeyogi has a superbly manly collection of leggings and pulls them out like a down to earth pro. RESPECT Andy! But they are SO made for women the market is a bit biased.

The biggest shift you have to make is to stop thinking of them as active wear and treat them like if they were skinny jeans. Leggings are very versatile and if you see them fashion items when you buy exercise clothing it changes the game. You think of what can you wear them with in the context of your entire closet. Not just the sports section.

With this in mind you will notice that the planets have aligned, and now you can get good exercise leggings but with fashionable textures and prints. Remove neon from your mind right now unless you like to go to Zumba conventions all the time. Neon is never going to be glamorous (I hope)

Please note that Active Wear leggings are NOT like normal ones so don’t go cheap here. The cut and the material are different (learn more about this in my last post). Liquido Active has variety for both worlds (glam and zumba) but they are Brazilian after all and they have a slight tendency to think of carnival.

When you re-think of what your work out leggings and you look at them as if they were normal pants you will notice there’s room for basics, prints florals, just in a different way. Just doing this will immediately make it easier on the eye to go around all day on your Active Wear.

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This could be me, when I was 10. I absolutely adore leggings, and I have been wearing them since the 80s. I had two pairs in primary school, with pink or blue flowery patterns. I wore oversized jumpers on top, and White Reeboks or Navy Fila trainers. I did this for years. Credit goes to my mother of course.

If for some reason you think they are really off you can stop reading this right here and maybe have a look at my funny post about Brazilian Waxing instead.
Now that I am a Yoga teacher, I have a professional reason to wear yoga pants all day, every day, and I just love it. YIPPIE!!! This is part of my Liquido Active collection and even these prints work fine on the glam if you combine then with the right tops.

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Mosaic of tiled some of my Liquido Active legging. They are the best because they are buttery soft. Brazilians work Lycra like no other country.

Layer with tops

The key is to layer. Because leggings are so versatile they can be disguised under flowy tops easily. It’s mostly exercise tops that give you away as an active wear fashion victim. Wear a floaty top or jumper over your exercise tank and make sure that’s long enough to cover that infamous Camel Tow. The rule of thumb is that with tight pants you wear a lose top and vice versa. The trashy look is achieved by trying to resemble a neon sausage, hugged in Lycra from top to bottom.

A blouse, a jumper, a light sweater or even a simple and loose v neck white t shirt will do the job, and it will be great with a jacket on top. The next step.

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I have to make a special mention to the top in the cover.

If you find it (Nux, Selena Hoodie) please email me. I think it’s the cutest thing ever. The entire outfit is great, the pony, the flowery hydrangea leggings (also wanted, Nux Rio Capri) and the peekaboo top. ME WANT!

With clothes like this you have the Gigi Hadid look in a moment, maybe not the body but hey, there’s worse things in life. Like Zumba conventions and barbie fitness.

Add a jacket

A denim jacket, military parka, a motorbike jacket, or a chunky cardigan. All of the above make a good combination with yoga pants that you can wear all day in colder weathers. And the great thing is that it doesn’t really matter what you wear underneath because nobody is going to see that.

If you live in the tropics like me, a cardigan is a must to survive the attack of the killer air con blast. You don’t remember what your mother used to tell you when you were little? Don’t go out in the cold all sweaty. after exercising. Here’s the other way around. Don’t go indoors in the air con all sweaty. You will get pneumonia.

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Maybe add a scarf too

If by any chance you still will feel conscious about the camel toe or simple about wearing leggings this is the ultimate trick. Guide the eyes to look somewhere else.

A big or colorful scarf can take all eyes to your neck and away from your yoga pants.  A beautiful scarf makes dress up anything or it can define the entire outfit. Black leggings, black booties and black top? Throw a red or pink scarf around. Print leggings and plain top. A scarf can dress it up.

I don’t need to tell you the use of them in winter, but remember the air con temperature in that expensive shopping mall is always going to be colder than average. Yes that shopping mall we all know, where you need to buy those expensive coffee capsules every week.

Don’t forget the shoes!

You do yoga barefoot, ergo you don’t need to wear trainers. Repeat this 3 times mentally, or out loud if possible. It will help to make it sink in.

Take a deep breath and now proceed to remove the association of yoga pants and trainers. Exercise shoes are optional for your Yoga outfit. If you are American try a few more rounds. Please forgive me, but running shoes are for running. ONLY.

There’s trillions of cool trainers out there these days. They call them street wear, and any of them are going to make you immediately look 10 times more chic than those standard running shoes most standard American seems to have (for some reason I can’t understand). If you have and old pair, maybe it’s time to upgrade and realize that they belong in a Salvation Army box.

That said I do love a sleek cool trainer. I have 6 pairs to be exact. But these beauties below should only be used with jeans or for the gym floor and in case of emergencies like acute foot pain, or heavy rain that will spoil all you other shoes except the Hunters. BTW Wellington boots are actually really cool with leggings – Trainers work on the hipster side, not so much the glam.


Let’s look at other options now. If you are going for the European thing, you will have to follow this and send those ugly running shoes straight away to exile. Now. Resist the trainers temptation and go for sandals, flats, oxfords, booties, and flipflops.


As you can see, leggings go great with all kinds of shoes. Anything works better than trainers, but if you really have to, at least get cute ones.

That’s all folks! It’s really quite simple.

Basically you can combine your yoga clothes with whatever you would wear with skinny jeans. I think it should not be difficult to pull this out, right? If you need more inspiration have a look at my Pinterest album.

Remember that looking like this is really the work a complete team of stylists, make up artists, hairdressers, lighting specialists and photographers. Not just the model.

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Agua Bendita – Active Submarine Jungle Collection

In case of doubt, big black sunglasses add 100 glamour points no matter what you wear.

Until next time!

xx

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Lululemon top with peplum – Out os stock everywhere unfortunately.

Yoga Capsule Wardrobe

Make your essential Yoga Capsule Wardrobe

I don’t need excuses to go shopping, but I still make them anyway.

The first thing I did after signing up for my Yoga Teacher Training Course was (of course) to make sure I have enough Yoga clothes to make it through the course in style. I went to my Yoga drawer to do a stock inventory and I found that I had a few good pieces…  but I did not have 5 full Yoga specific outfits to make it through the week.

Heavens! I had to go shopping! #firstworldproblems

(SHORTCUT – cut the crap and take me to the list)

You could say I have my priorities right… or not. Honestly, a bit of vanity is not incompatible with Yoga. Keep in mind I also had to look like a reputable Yoga Teacher after the course, so the expense was more than justified.

It was, It is important that they are Yoga specific outfits. The other stuff in the drawer had been abandoned years ago because it just doesn’t do the job so well. If you are not convinced about this yet have a look at my post “Why having good Yoga clothes is important“.

But before going shopping I had to do a small little eco-friendly ritual I have. Send the old pieces to Salvation Army. For everything new that comes in, something I have not worn in a long time has to go. Ok, that’s it, now I’m ready to hit the mall.

WARNING! Shopping for Yoga clothes is a bit like going to the candy shop!

They are all so pretty! Your eyes start widening and glistering… The bright colors, the patterns, straps here, straps there… and that’s how I ended up with and impossible mix of prints and pinks. I had to plan in advance this time. I had to first find out what I actually needed. That’s why I came up with my Yoga Capsule Wardrobe.  I went shopping only for the pieces I was missing. This way you stay focused and make smarter choices. Personally I needed some basics.

Yoga Capsule Wardrobe

Yoga Capsule Wardrobe

This selection has 13 pieces will give you enough to survive the week of TT, and set a base of sanity for future visits to candy store.

From top to bottom: The first three leggings are all Luluemon. The nude top is from Cotton On Body Active. On the second set, the fucsia top is my beloved Scoop Tank from Lululemon again. Strappy bra model is Free to be Serene, The navy bra+tank is too old for me to remember. Leggings are Liquido Active.  On the third group: striped top from Cotton on Body Active, black tank from Forever 21, white tank from Gap Fit, purple leggings from Lululemon and maroon soft bra from Forever 21.

Ideas to make your own Essential Yoga Capsule Wardrobe.
13 pieces, 5 outfits.


You might wonder…Why five outfits?  It’s for ecological reasons. I do laundry once a week only, with a full load. So I needed one set for each day of the week of TT.  If you are not in my position you probably need less.

An Essential Yoga Capsule Wardrobe should contain 80% basics

It should have pieces that you can easily combine with each other, and it should have variety as well. For example on the length of the leggings and the shapes of the tops.

My selection contains:

      • 5 Leggings: Black, block color, grey, black and white, and one with a funky print.

Crop, long, extra long and 7/8. I live in Asia, where people tend to be more modest and very few wear shorts and crops for Yoga. Even back home, I do not think I would wear shorts for yoga, so they are excluded from my list. Sorry!

      • 5 Top combos:

2 tops with built-in bra: One with thick straps, one with thin straps.  Thick straps and built in bras are better for vinyasa classes, where you sweat more, move more and need more support.

3 bras: One neutral, one dark, one bright. One soft, one strong, one strappy and fashionable.

3 tank tops: One white, one black, one striped. They will go well with any bra and with most of the leggings. You will need change one of the tanks for short sleeved t-shirt here if you do Aerial Yoga, to avoid rubbing from the hammock.

How to pick the right clothes for your Essential Yoga Wardrobe

1- The must-have Yoga leggings

The first thing you need is a good pair of black leggings. That’s a basic essential. A minimum requirement. I would make that a pair of Lululemon High Times pants. Long and high waist. Thicker or thinner depending on the weather where you live.  They are so worth the money. Just as much as buying a good yoga mat (more about this in my last post) You can always get them on sale or even consider second hand. Good Yoga clothes are meant to last so they stay in good condition for long. I buy second hand often myself.

All sorts of neon tops that are so trendy right now will go well with back leggings if that’s your thing.  Personally I’m more into deeper or pastel shades.

If you like to spice it up go for black leggings with mesh windows, extra long legs, ombre ankles or pants that come with some texture.

You also need something a little softer. Light or dark grey leggings. Plain, with salt and pepper pattern, or any other small self print. See below. You can use them as normal clothes too. Expense justified right there! More about this in my next post.

I also recommend having one block color that’s easy to match.  Navy blue, dark green, maroon or purple. The tanks in the capsule wardrobe will go well with any of these.

Finally, you need oneblack and white print. Monochrome is always safe and easy to play with.  If I could get my hands on those feather leggings from LuLaRoe… they seem to be sold out everywhere online!

Once you have the basics covered you can indulge yourself with the funky prints. Oh the prints! My weakness! You need only one for the Yoga Capsule Wardrobe, but they are difficult to resist. Beware you can become a Liquido Active junkie like me,  and that comes with an additional set of matching tops, so you are warned… 😉

Here are my favorite prints from the Brazilian brand. They have a unique combination of materials that make them the softest thing you’ll ever wear. On top of that, I think they are just art stamped on Lycra. I confess I actually have most of these. From Pure Yoga or Carousell.  I’m now teaching Yoga full time, and make two or three outfits changes per day,so I do need more than just a capsule wardrobe. Stay focused!

2- What you should know about Yoga tops

You have two choices: Built in bra, or separate bra and tank top. Actually there are three options. Now they make tops that look like two pieces but they are stitched together.

4532d8592b893dcc3116fbb5336e0e61 I have a couple of those and I always get tangled getting in and out of them. I don’t think I will buy more. They also expose a bit too much of my back fat rolls.

That said, this little number from Vivre Active is VERY very nice. They are on the “maybe, one day, if the rolls go away” list.

THE TANKS WITH BUILT IN BRAS – Getting into a yoga tank top with a built in bra requires strength, and patience! It’s not easy and they seem to make them more complicated by the year. Will we end up wrapped in bandages?

All these Lululemon options below have good bras, good support  performance. The brand offers 15% discount for Yoga Teachers worldwide. Even on top of an already discounted item so that makes them more attractive even.

  • The first on is a body-con model. Watch our for this. For me this is a complete nightmare to get into. Looks fab, but when you are in a rush… go for the next one. I just didn’t read the fine print on the label that said it is a body-con model when I bought mine. I was too distracted with the white and grey snake print.
  • The second one is a newer and finer version of the fabulous Scoop Tank. The scoop tank remains my all time favorite Yoga top. Even if it’s discontinued, I buy them on eBay. It’s a ‘hassle free, don’t worry be happy’ top. Keeps everything in place, nothing shows, soaks all the sweat.
  • The last one is sort of loose at the bottom. I have one that looks like this and it feels a bit like maternity top. This cut works better with decently breasted women, and I’m in the ‘barely anything there’ category. It’s good to keep for the future…  It looks flowly and graceful in Barre classes but I don’t use it for Yoga unless I’m teaching Prenatal.

The Y tank (below) is probable the most popular design by Lululemon, and it’s iconic. My first ever Yoga top was one of these. It’s 7 years old and in mint condition. This is definitely a winner in the basics category so it deserves a special mention.

THE BRAS – The poor things… most people just hate them.

For people that love wearing unwired unpadded bras, a sports bra is a horrible torture device. People that can’t live without full nipple coverage, pads and proper structure find that Yoga Bras are flattening and unflattering.

A sports bra is for what is is, but the most important thing is to put it on properly.

Side note:

When I started wearing Yoga bras much more than regular ones, I noticed that my armpits and all the area around them started accumulating fat. I was getting slimmer everywhere else except there.

My masseur told me one day (to my utter shock) that it was actually tissue spreading out from my breasts! There’s no emoji to describe my face and the begging that came later to change my massage to a boob fixing massage straight away. It’s the same phenomena that occurs when you wear a bra size that’s too small for you. You end up covering only the main part of the gland with the bra cup and pushing the rest to the side.

I have noticed since then that this happens to a lot of Yoga teachers.  To prevent or correct this this you must pull the flesh under your armpits inwards, towards the outer side of your breasts, and make sure the bra holds it there.  Re-adjust as often as needed (not in the middle class …)

Also, try to wear wear normal bras that have a wide enough band to do the same and hold it in place. Else you will do and undo the the job all the time. Consistency is the key.

Back to the topic. The first two bras below are from Lululemon. The last one is one of me favorites, from Forever 21. They make inexpensive and very soft bras. They are so comfortable and affordable that I have a few. I buy one size smaller than mine to add a bit more support. Low Impact – Y-Back Sports Bra

Yoga bras are meant to be shown or to peak from the top, so don’t be shy with the colors or textures. Do not buy a white bra. It looks too much like underwear and they don’t remain white for long, lets be honest.

THE TANKS – Honestly, this is a loose category. You could wear any tank you have on top of a sports bra. Cotton, Lycra or any material does the job because they will always have enough flesh exposed to evaporate sweat. But there’s a difference between normal exercise tops and Yoga tops.

Tank tops that are specific for Yoga have a thicker but lighter texture. a bit like a sponge. That makes them stick to the leggings and stay put. They don’t move from there so there’s no accidental reveal of flesh.

Unfortunately very few brands make these kind of sticky top. So all the ones below are from Lululemon and Pure Apparel. I think Old Navy does but it’s not available in Singapore.

A running or fitness tank top can be used for Yoga too. But watch out for two things.  I found this ‘so called’ active top in Cotton On COAR the other day (first one below) to match some patterned legging I have and It was a big disappointment. Instead of evaporating my sweat, it soaked it all. The top became heavy and swang back and forth, dripping for the entire class.

Interestingly, the basic tanks from sister brand Cotton On Body (second) are really the solution to all my matching problems. A complete super start of tank tops! The third one is a very pretty Lululemon essential tank in Tiger Space Dye Black White. The little pleat on the back drives me crazy. This is a hybrid. It stays in place but it’s not fitting. They do miracles at Lululemon.

THAT’S it for now. I hope this guide is useful for choosing your Essential Yoga Capsule Wardrobe, and that you learnt a thing or two about Yoga clothes. Feel free to comment and give feedback!

Coming up shortly: How to wear Yoga Clothes all day and look glamorous.

Until then, NAMASTE!

Why having good Yoga clothes is important, and where to buy them in Singapore

I get it all the time: ‘Oh you have such nice Yoga outfits, but Yoga clothes are so expensive!’ First, thanks! Second, yeah I hear you!

Yoga clothes are my work clothes, so It’s something worth investing on for me, but they do cost a fortune. That said, I think it’s pretty important you have appropriate clothing as a Yoga Practitioner too. That’s why I’ decided to write this for my students.

As a Yoga teacher, on a busy day I would use 4 changes of clothes. The Essential Yoga Capsule Wardrobe I made for my Teachers Training will not even last a couple of days but have a look there for inspiration.

 (SHORTCUT – cut the crap take me to the list)

A bit of background- Traditionally in India Yoga is practiced in loose cotton clothing that covers the entire body. You know what? That’s pretty much the clothes they wear on a regular basis so no hooha here.

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Image from jeffvonderschmidt.com

From a Western perspective this is not a really comfortable attire. It’s not even necessary to cover yourself so much, even more when the weather is hot. I had to do Yoga in this type of clothing called Salwar while I was in Rishikesh, India, because it was compulsory. I did it with respect and pleasure but I was hot, soaked, tangled and at moments frustrated.

I now understand why famous men yogis are always nearly naked, but that’s not allowed for women, right?  I will not go on with the topic of discrimination this time, but I shall continue to write from my own perspective, because that’s why this is my blog 😉 hehehe.

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BKS Iyengar – Nearly always on speedos

Is it worth investing in good Yoga gear?

The answer is YES.

Even when you are not a Yoga Teacher? Still Yes.

I am known for lecturing my fellow Yogis (and now students) about the importance of having appropriate Yoga specific clothes and gear. They are expensive, but they are worth it. I wrote all this to explain why.

But before we start, look at the photo of Iyengar again. Now imagine the seam of your shorts cutting through the flesh of your groin… or worse even… the stitching bursting open in the class (based on a true story). You should have at least one set. I rest my case.

On the Eco side of things, buying cheap and cheerful comes at a price for the environment.  Disposable clothing from big chains generate consumption and also more rubbish in the dumps.

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What’s so special about Yoga clothes?

Yoga clothes are adapted to the needs and requirements of the practice, and they need to be good quality to endure it. That all comes at a price. When you start you obviously don’t want to make an investment in case you and Yoga don’t along, but once you have regular practice you will notice that there’s a difference. A big one.

THE PANTS –

The leggings need to stretch 4 ways so that they don’t squeeze anywhere, in any posture. If that’s not the case they will pull or dig into your flesh when you pretzel yourself. The stitching might even end up coming off. This is based on a true story. I have hear that tearing noise in class before.

The definition of Asana = Yoga posture by old sage Patanjali, is to be at ease. One can’t not be at ease when uncomfortable. The leggings also need to be high rise and have a wide waist band. They sit nicely on top of your hips, and don’t slip down showing your underwear. This also avoids the famous muffin top effect.

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Here’s Lena Dunham having a laugh about the muffin top effect. (dailymail.com.uk )

They need to be completely opaque too. I will never forget the face of my students when I mentioned that I could see their underwear in downward dog sometimes because their leggings are sheer… Thank god that’s an only women group and they have a sense of humor.

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Yes, that’s pretty much what it looks like 😉 Image from Photobuket

Most importantly, your Yoga pants need to breeze. You will sweat, a lot,  and if your leggings don’t help evaporate the sweat or the fabric is too synthetic, you will cook in your own juices. When we do Yoga we release toxins in the sweat from the internal organs. It’s not just sweat. This can also give you rashes, itchiness, pimples or even make you feel suffocated and unwell. My advice is go cheap on the tops if you need to because they only cover you torso and the rest is aired, but invest in good bottoms.

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Lululemon Align pants are the lightest and more breathable of their range. They are so soft they feel like you are not wearing anything… but they are 100% opaque. No matter the quality, the lighter the color the more sheer possibility there will be, and the more they will show sweat. Always test in the fitting room before you buy. Do a down dog or a forward fold. Use the mirrors and your phone to check if you need to.

FOR MEN, good pants are even more important. When I did my first boys class it was with my friends’ husbands.

I was a bit conscious about ‘things’ coming out accidentally, so I told them not to wear football/basketball shorts without long fitted underpants. No running shorts, no sheer briefs no speedos. I made them wear double layer to avoid embarrassment (on my side because it seems they really couldn’t care less). There were jokes circulating on the topic for a while… but I achieved my mission.

Imagine, they would have come to class like this… Jaysus!

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Image from Doyouyoga.com (don’t miss this article please!)

A while ago I bought a good pair of Lululemon Yoga shorts for my dear boyfriend the Troglodyte.  They have small slits on the side, a flexible waist band, they breathe and stretch but keep things cool and in place. They even a vanity fly, and side and back pockets. All the perks! He absolutely loves them. If not so much for Yoga, they are used often as lounge wear. I think my friends’ husbands have chances of getting  a similar pair for Christmas this year. These are the latest Men Yoga Shorts from Lululemon.

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Disclaimer: This is not my Dear Boyfriend the Troglodyte


THE TOPS-

Two things to be considered when buying a Yoga top. That it covers and holds the bust completely, and that it doesn’t roll down.  When going upside down you don’t want your boobs ejecting and your belly showing, right? Yoga tanks are usually made of a material that’s non slip. The top will stick to the pants and no matter what you do it will stay there. Running tops on the other hand will slip and roll down, but they are cheaper, so you can always make a fancy knot on the back like this and go on (if Lululemon says It’s cool we do it don’t we?)

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They make very nice Yoga bras these days with lost of crisscross straps, but do they offer the right amount of support for you? That’s something to consider, even if you think you are not very busty. Try them on and do a test. Jump or go upside down to see if your bad boys stay in place.

Lululemon (of course) also make Yoga t-shirts for men, but they are not so essential in my opinion.  My dear boyfriend the Troglodyte has one, and he uses it to sleep only. No wonder he does! It’s the softest thing on the world! I’m afraid I’m not going to stop him from using it as PJs. No no no. It’s great to hug!

Jokes aside, for guys, a regular dry-fit t shirt or tank does the job because they can tuck it in. But for us ladies, tucking in a top when you are wearing leggings is not so cool.


THE MAT –

Don’t forget about the mat! A good Yoga mat is a long term investment but it’s worth it. If you don’t have a good a mat you should consider buying if you are committed to your practice. Here’s why:

  • Good mats don’t disintegrate if you toe nails accidentally scratch the surface coming from downward dog to high lounge (Based on a true story).
  • They also don’t soak your sweat and stink after a few uses (no further comment needed)
  • Most importantly, they allow you to push through your hands and feet without slipping. This way you don’t fall, and you can actually do the postures properly.
  • Good Yoga mats are dense and they are heavy. This is to provide a cushion for your knees and writs, protecting the joints.

If you are new to Yoga you can get a cheaper version to start with. A lot of my students go for Gaiam premium mats. They are available in Singapore in Lazada  and in Qoo10 but think they are a bit pricey for the quality, particularly if you compare to the US prices in Amazon.

Most end up going for a 25$ mat in Cotton On Body because it’s easily available and looks a bit better than the ones in Guardian or Watsons (supermarket ones). It’s Ok… but don’t be sorry to throw it away in a month or two. That’s if you don’t get tired of picking up the debris after the class before that time.

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Image from Reviews.com article about The Best Yoga Mats of 2017

My advice is that you consider a good Manduka or Jade Yoga mat if you are serious about your practice . These are my two favorite brands, but if you want to know more options have a look at The Best Yoga mats of 2017.

I got my first Manduka mat when Pure Yoga Singapore renewed their mats in the Orchard studio, about 7 years ago. To my delight, they decided to give away the old ones away to the students. I don’t know how old my first mat it is. I can’t imagine how many times it has been used and washed… but after one good scrub and some disinfectant it is in semi perfect condition. I’ve had it at my parent’s place since. It’s my holiday mat now. Still standing and still does the job well.

Side note: I usually just wash my mats once a week in the shower. Wiping them with mild soap and a giving them a quick rinse.

You can find Manduka Mats in Singapore in their shop in 313 Sommerset, in Isetan, in Pure Yoga and in Touch the Toes.

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Image from Jade Yoga

In my opinon, Jade Yoga mats actually have better grip than Mandukas. If you have sweaty hands like me this is a game changer. Some people find them too rough though. Different people, different taste!

I also find that when Mandukas are new they have a sort of finish coat that makes them less porous. Later, after use and wash they are fine, but at first you don’t get that grip.

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Credit: leena_mun

Another option if you are budget concious is to buy a travel mat and put it on top of a cheap mat. It’s basically like a rubber sheet.  The one on the left is is the Eko SuperLite from Manduka. They come in many different colors.

I find they have more grip than the normal mats and they get even more grip with use. I bought all mine second hand to ensure they are seasoned.
This is actually what I use for my classes.  I’m always on the go and I can carry them in my handbag with 1,000 other things. The downside is that I have to use small towels to protect my knees and writs because Ii doesn’t provide any cushioning at all.

Where to buy Yoga Clothes in Singapore?

This is always the next question. My rule of thumb is that if you know exactly what you want (model, brand, color, size) first check in Carousell if anybody is selling it. The amount of stuff they have in the platform is AMAZING. Finally there’s an eBay in SG that works wonders!

They have second hand as well as new stuff. There’s individuals selling and also small businesses . Look for acronyms like BNWT (brand new with tags) or BN (brand new) to describe items. I buy a lot here, new and second hand. A good wash removes all traces of the past.

“WHERE TO SHOP”

  • Lululemon is probably the top brand of Yoga clothes. They have two shops in Orchard Rd, Takashimaya and Ion. They are expensive but if you are getting your first basic pair of black leggings It’s s worth the money. They will the last forever.

INSIDER TIP! They have a permanent sales rack hidden near the fitting room. Stay focused. Don’t look around! Just go for the rack. That’s the place to get some juicy discounts up to 30%. Also, Yoga teachers get 15% off even on sales items.

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Lululemon sales rack in Ion Orchard – 3 March 2017 (Image:  my own)

  • Vivre active. Is a local brand with online store and shops in Wisma and Bugis Juction. They are cheaper than international brands but in quality I give it a 8/10 because not all items are there yet. Note that they have Asian sizing so expats might end up on a size much bigger than their usual. Don’t let it put you down. I love the tops but some of the leggings are not so breathable. What I love more is the initiative of setting up such a business. You can read about it here.
  • Pure apparel. In every Pure Yoga studio there’s a shop with Yoga Gear. They carry a big selection with brands like Onzie, Liquido Active and their own brand Pure Apparel. The Liquidos here fly off in a blink. So if you like something buy it or it will be gone the next day. Their own brand is of high standards and nearly as high in price as Lululemon (minus the cool/design factor most of the times). Check them out in Takashimaya, Chevron House and Asia Square. Members get 10% off.
  • Touch The Toes. They have an online shop as well as their outlet in Haji Lane. You will find brands like Teeki, Manduka. The place has the biggest range of mats and props in town. Here’s a tip if they happen to read this some time. Not having the .sg domain made me dismiss your site many times when doing online research.
  • Isetan in Shaw house has a huge sports section with Manduka, Rumi and other brands. This is more for window shopping because they mark up the prices a bit higher. Also they have all Yoga clothes from different sports brands in one single area. It might sound silly but that’s not the case in many department stores. Others that classify by brand and you have to go hopping from one to another.
  • Gap. Gap Fit is there fitness line. It’s only available in Vivo city if I remember well. They don’t have a huge range by the quality is good and the price decent. I have both leggings and tops from them and I’m very satisfied. Old navy seems to belong to the same group as Gap and have nice Yoga clothes but you can’t get them in Singapore.
  • H&M. I think It’s better to go to the cheaper shops after you have touched the good stuff, then you will be able to find the jewels hidden in the piles of hay. There’s a lot of choice. And a lot of it not good. Trust your fingertips and go for dark items that will not sheer.
  • Cotton On Body. The active wear range of the Australian brand has been a great success. I pass by the shop in Wisma often and they have new collections coming out all the time, with funky designs.  I’m not a fan of their leggings because they don’t breathe well enough for me. But go for the tops and bras without a doubt. The touch here is important too. Not all items are the same quality. Rough Yoga clothes can give you rashes if you have sensitive skin. You twist an turn in them rubbing you all the time.
  • Forever 21 has a pretty decent active wear selection. The one in Ion Orchard has all the sales items, and the ones in Vivo City and 313 Sommerset have the newer collections. . I find them quite soft to the touch but I’m not a hug fan of the black and neon trend they seem to love. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just not  their target audience…  I love their soft bras though! The low support Y bra. I would get them in every color possible.

You might be surprised not to see some usual suspects of sports clothes here. Of course brands like Reebok, Underarmour, Nike, Adidas, Puma etc have Yoga Clothes now but even these giants sometimes don’t get the basics right. The texture, the cut, the waist that doesn’t make muffin tops or move down,  the 4 way stretch… not all items meet these standards. Even Stella McCartney’s Adidas Yoga line is not always convincing to me, and it’s even more expensive than Lululemon.

ONLINE SHOPPING

Just for your information, you can buy Yoga Clothes online in the following sites. I found all online execept InZone5. I met the ladies in the last edition of Boutiques Fairs . these online but I have not tried. So I can’t give my opinion

 

My point is made. With some proper Yoga Clothes and a good Yoga mat, I can asure you you will enjoy the practice more. I do not get any commission out of endorsements, so I hope this really help!

Until next time, Namaste!

Xx

PS: Here’s a bit of indulgence… my Yoga outfits Pinterest board.