Category Archives: yoga products

Product Review: Using Medi-Dyne Prostretch for a Deep Calf Stretch

calf muscles

Are your heels so far off the floor that your Downward Dog is a Downward Don’t? Do you suffer with tight calves, hamstrings, or plantar fascitis?  If so, the Medi-Dyne Prostretch might be just the tool you need to improve your yoga practice.  As a recreational runner and yoga teacher, I’m personally aware that running can result in uncomfortably calves tight calves. Yet, I’m not willing to give up running for the benefit of my yoga practice.

Let’s take a minute for a brief anatomy review. There are 2 primary muscles in the calf, the gastrocnemius (a.k.a. gastroc) and the soleus. The gastroc, think rock, is the bulbous muscle superficial to the soleus, which lies under it. Both have a role in plantarflexion (pointed toe position) of the foot. Because the gastroc originates at the femur, it is the primary plantarflexor when the leg is straight. On the other hand, the soleus is primary when the leg is bent. This tells us that, in order to stretch both, we need to extend the calf in both bent leg and straight leg positions.

Medi-Dyne ProstretchSo, what’s a yogi to do?  While poses such as Downward Dog and Warrior I are effective for stretching the calf muscles, using the Prostretch is a more focused approach. First, it also allows for the calf to be stretched with a straight or bent leg. Second, with it’s rounded bottom, it allows for a rocker motion that simulates the foot motion which occurs during running. The stretch can be gradually deepened by rocking back so the heel sits lower than the ball of the foot. Finally, combining all that goodness with a v-shaped cradle, you’ll find it can release the fascia (connective-tissue) and achilles.

Every so often a product comes along that I want to tell the world about it. The Prostretch is one of those products. I use it every morning when brushing my teeth. I love the feeling of release and have fun rolling around on it. So, get yourself a Prostretch and the next time a yoga teacher says that Downward Dog is a restorative pose, it may actually feel that way to you.

 

 

Review: Yogitoes Skidless® and Jade Microfiber Yoga Towels

I’m surely dating myself here, but do you remember the movie Mr. Mom where Michael Keaton’s son gets really attached to his blanket? Here’s a clip in case that doesn’t ring a bell: Mr. Mom. Anyway, yoga towels are my wooby.

If you are not already using a yoga towel, consider these benefits:

  • hygienic layer between you and your mat (especially good when using a studio’s rental mat)
  • sweat absorption layer, keeps you and your mat dry
  • skid/slip protection
  • increased time between mat washings
  • cushioning

As you might recall from a previous post, I’m a big fan of Jade yoga mats (Jade yoga mat review). Let’s face it though, rubber is not the plushest (plush, love that word!) material out there and my pointy tailbone and I need a little more tush cush. My ‘Go To’ towel of choice was the Yogitoes Skidless® towel, but I thought I’d investigate alternatives before the outlay of any more of my precious coin. I narrowed the candidates down to Yogitoes Skidless® and Jade Microfiber towels.

Yogitoes towels are the most popular towels where I teach. Most of the teachers I know use them. I have 2 and have spent hundreds of mat hours with them. They are super durable, though not unexpectedly, have thinned out a bit over time. The dots (we’ll talk more about those in a bit) now protrude more than the towel, lowering the comfort factor. The Jade towel caught my attention because of my previous great experiences with their mats and because they are advertised to have great grip while being highly absorbent. I’ll share my musings on both and then get more tabular.

Fabric: The Yogitoes towel has 2 faces (in a good way, not like with that high school ‘friend’). The top side is a polyester/nylon blend. The underside is the same fabric with silicone dots that grab your yoga mat. Is it just me or do these remind you of the candy buttons I inhaled as a kid?  The Jade towel, on the other hand, is uniform microfiber on both sides. When I first unpacked the Jade, I thought “No way is this thing going to be non-slip.”, but it is a magical fabric that really grips my hands and my rubber mat.  It is super soft, dare I say… fluffy. Love! I yearn for reclined poses so I can lay on this luxurious fabric.

[A brief tangent on yoga towel grip. Never ever (by this I mean NEVER) use fabric softener on these. Not in the washing machine and not in the dryer. Use a mild detergent and air dry or machine dry on low. I’ll assume we are clear on this and carry on.]

Portability: Considering how you will be toting your towel around, weight is a factor. At a featherweight 8 ounces, the Jade is a clear winner here.  The Yogitoes is a hefty 22 ounces in comparison.

Lint: A category for lint you say? A must, I say, since these score on opposite ends of the spectrum. The Yogitoes does not hold on to lint, retaining cleanliness throughout practice. The Jade, perhaps because of it’s fluffiness, seems to hold on to every stray thread, hair, and lint ball that comes around. I try to think of these as extra spots on which to laser focus my gaze, but really they are a bity untidy.

Size: Standard sized yoga mats are 24″ x 68″ same size as the Yogitoes towel. The Jade towel is larger, 24″ x 72″. I’m guessing the Jade is larger to accommodate both their 68″ and 74″ mats. Undeterred, I just tuck the extra inches under the front edge of my mat.

Price: Jade at MSRP $34.95 is noticeably less expensive than the Yogitoes at $64, though the Yogitoes is more highly engineered.

Durability: The Yogitoes has lasted me years, hundreds of practice hours. I’ve put about 50 hours on my Jade and it is holding up well so far.

Conclusion: Given the comfort and price, I recommend the Jade towel. Would love to hear what towels you like. Feel free to chime in with comments.

 

Yoga Towel Comparison – Feb 10, 2012
Product Jade Microfiber Yogitoes Skidless®
Material Polyester microfiber 80% polyester, 20% nylon – silicone nubs
Made in U.S.A. Korea
Colors 5 many
Approximate Weight 8 ounces 22 ounces
Charity One month’s worth of clean drinking water for one person in the developing world for every towel sold Donates 1% of their annual sales of all yogitoes® products
Holding power (to you) Excellent wet or dry Good when wet, poor when dry
Holding power (to mat) Excellent Very good
Comfort factor Mr. Mom Wooby Level Knobbly
Size 24″ x 72″ 24″ x 68″
MSRP $34.95 $64.00

Product review: wrist assured gloves (Wags)

This past summer, I noticed thumb pain during my yoga practice and while gardening (my other job).  Even with good alignment, poses like up-dog and wheel were starting to get painful.  Being a type-A leaning human, my first instinct was to maintain status quo and see if it cleared up on its own.  Being a yoga teacher, I knew better than to ignore it.  It is one thing to have discomfort in your practice and another thing entirely to have actual pain. Discomfort is a warning to proceed mindfully while pain is a bright red stop sign.

Optimism in hand, I went to see an orthopedic hand specialist.  I was sure he would tell me about a minor inflammation that would resolve with rest.  Boy was I wrong!  At 44, I was diagnosed with arthritis in my thumbs…early onset, no direct cause, perhaps hereditary.  Gasp! Those words were swirling in my head when he said: “Your days of doing this (gesturing a plank pose) are over.” The swirling thoughts  were drowned out by my stubborn inner child, who immediately threw a psychic temper tantrum.  My inner child is a force to be reckoned with.  She possesses all the tenaciousness and iron will of a 2 year old and does not like to be told what to do (my boyfriend can attest to this).

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Yoga mat review

Are you in the market for a new yoga mat?  I am and usually dread the task as it involves both intense research yoga matand trial and error. It’s like starting a new relationship. I strike out with my ‘must haves’ list and a heart full of hope.  Sometimes I’m taken in by looks.  I’m a sucker for attractive jewel tones. At other times, I’m sold on the promise of a long lasting relationship.  For example, there was the eco-friendly mat that rapidly deteriorated into small chunks. I occasionally, mysteriously still find these chunks around the house.  It’s like the ex-boyfriend who’s personal possessions turn up in your apartment from time to time. You’re not sure how they got there, but know they don’t belong.  Then, there was the shiny bargain mat that felt more like a slip-n-slide. I complained about him, er – I mean it, to my girlfriends. Note to self, avoid shiny – look for substance. At some point, I was compelled to try a yoga rug. Perhaps I was communing with my inner hippie. I never did figure out how to wash and dry it efficiently – which meant I rarely did.  After a while, I felt aloof in this relationship, holding on to a paranoid suspicion about it’s cleanliness.  We practiced together only after a thorough sniff-test. Talk about impediments to getting on your mat.

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