The practice of yoga is a constant journey and evolution. This blog is about experiencing and learning through the journey. There are countless opportunities for discovery, challenge, enjoyment and comic relief. It’s a journey that will never end, always a Yogini in Progress. Enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mama's Got a Brand New (Yoga) Bag

Channel your inner James Brown and sing it with me, “Ain't no drag..... mama's got a brand new bag....”

I made my first yoga bag a couple of years ago when my favorite one gave out. I couldn't find a stylish, unique one, that didn't cost a fortune. So, I decided that with my basic sewing skills and all of the adorable fabrics at the store I could certainly craft one. This really is an easy project, with mostly straight lines. The hardest thing is sewing on the button (just do it before you've added the lining and it makes it way easier!).

This bag fits my standard lululemon mat or my manduka mat, plus a little room to spare. You can adjust the measurements to fit a different sized mat as needed.

  • 1 yard* of cotton/canvas fabric for bag & strap
  • 1 yard* of cotton/canvas fabric for lining & pocket  *if you get 1.5 yards of each, you can make 2 bags 
  • thread
  • button (optional)
  • 12"X1" elastic
Bag Fabric Pieces
  • Bag Panel - 30"X23" Rectangle
  • Bag Bottom – 7" Circle (I used a small disposable plate for a template)
  • Strap – 38"X6" Rectangle
Lining Fabric Pieces
  • Lining Panel - 30"X23" Rectangle
  • Lining Bottom – 7" Circle
  • Pocket (Optional) – 8"X7" Rectangle

  1. Pocket Prep (Optional) – Zig zag the edges of the pocket piece, Fold over the top edge about 1 1/2” and top stitch to stay in place. Sew the button hole in the top/center of the pocket fabric. [Pocket 1] Fold over and press the left and right edges about 1/2”, pin in place. [Pocket 2] Pin the WRONG side of the pocket fabric to the RIGHT side of the bag panel. Pin at the center bottom of the bag panel, lining up the bottom edge of the pocket and the bag panel. [Pocket 3] Stitch the left and right sides of the pocket to the bag panel. Sew the button to the bag panel. 
  2. Strap Prep – Fold the strap piece in half the long way. Stitch together and then zig zag the edges together to reinforce. Turn right side out. Press flat, lining up the seam in the center of the back side. (The back of the strap will have the seam running down the middle.) [Strap 1]
  3. Bag Panel – Fold the bag panel in half and sew RIGHT sides together creating the back seam. Turn, so the bag panel is RIGHT side is out. Pin the back side of the strap to the RIGHT side of the bag panel, centering the strap on the BOTTOM edge of the bag seam. Repeat with the TOP edge of the strap and bag panel. [Strap 2] Turn inside out. Pin RIGHT sides together of the bag bottom (circle) to the bottom edge of the bag panel. [Bottom 1] Sew together and then zig zag the edges together to reinforce.

  4. Lining – Fold the lining in half and sew RIGHT sides together creating the back seam leaving a 1” opening 1 1/2” inches from the top and a 3” opening in the middle. (The 1” opening is for the top elastic. The 3” opening is to turn the bag after connecting the lining.) [Lining 1] Pin RIGHT sides of the lining bottom (circle) and the bottom edge of the lining panel together. Sew together and then zig zag the edges together to reinforce. 

  5. Connect Bag & Lining – Turn the bag RIGHT side out and the lining WRONG side out. Put the bag inside the lining. Sew RIGHT sides together along the top edge, then zig zag the edges to reinforce. Pull the bag through the open seam in the lining. The RIGHT sides of the bag and lining should be visible. Sew the lining opening together (you can blind stitch or just top stitch, no one will see it.) 

  6. Finishing - Top stitch the strap and bag to the lining about 1 1/2” from the top. This will create a channel for the elastic. Feed the elastic through the opening in the lining seam and sew the ends together. (You can blind stitch the opening, but it's not very noticeable.)
The only things left to do are sing a little James Brown, load up your mat and head over to class (in style). I hope you enjoy this pattern. Be sure to send me pictures of your finished creations.

Enjoy the journey,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Teeter-Totter of Yoga and Life

Image credit: <a href=''>jadthree / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
One of the things that drew me to yoga was balance. Not so much the standing on one leg thing, but that ebb and flow, give and take, a little here, a little there balance. What I've learned is that balance is not something that you find, define and replicate. It's in constant motion and finding it can be elusive.

In my twenties and thirties my definition of balance was control. I was on a mission to mold and direct everything. You can imagine my surprise when I found out I had control of nothing. Exhibit A, my children!

In my mid to late thirties, I adopted the mantra of “something's got to give.” This brought a sense of release and with it peace. A good friend assured me that if I said “no” to that project/committee/meeting, then someone else could say “yes” and I could say “yes” to something else. It was incredibly freeing! I could not control the world nor could I do every thing. But, I could do some things well, with great energy and love.

And now I've adopted a policy of trying to find balance, moderation, middle ground. As history serves, the pendulum swings back through the middle every time. Take nutrition craziness for example. Not long ago avocados were shunned because they were too high in fat and wine was just a luxury. Now, avocados are a “superfood” and red wine provides healthy antioxidants.

The practice of yoga has helped me to explore balance and the pendulum swing. In a physical sense, when trying to find that sweet spot of an asana (pose) there is a teeter-totter, a give and take. In adho mukha svanasana (down dog), when I press my hands to the mat, my shoulders creep to my ears, creating tension in the back of the neck and shoulders. When I pull my shoulders back, I lose some of the connection and rooting energy of my hands. Striking that perfect balance of opposites in that moment, on that day is quite the challenge. Bringing focus and awareness to the balance of opposites requires constant awareness and tending.

If you've been in my class and I've adjusted you back and forth, “lift here, press here, lift here, press here...”, then you may know what I'm talking about. Just as in life, when we make adjustments to find balance, it's not usually a one time thing.

In an emotional sense, balance is just as important. At times, it's the emotional extremes that make life interesting. On the upswing there are those big life events that you celebrate, like the birth of a child or the start of a new business. On the downswing there or those major challenges, like the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship. There's also the wonderful comfort of the times when you are in the middle chugging along with daily tasks, that middle ground, that balancing spot when things come together.

So, wherever you are on the teeter-totter, on the high up swing or hitting the ground on the down swing, know that somewhere in between is the sweet spot of the middle. Hang on tight and Enjoy the Journey!


Image credit: <a href=''>jadthree / 123RF Stock Photo</a>