Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle)

Awaken 12/365
Originally uploaded by Amanda's Weekly Zen
This picture is something I created and uploaded to my flickr stream in 2009. As I lumbered through my yoga class today I thought of this image, not just because of the the tranquil quality of the piece but because of the quotation I associated with it...

"Any perception can connect us to reality properly and fully. What we see doesn’t have to be pretty, particularly; we can appreciate anything that exists. There is some principle of magic in everything, some living quality. Something living, something real, is taking place in everything."

~ “Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior” Chogyam Trungpa

Today's class brought me into the reality of my practice... I am not very good. As we moved from Warrior I and then to Warrior II I felt myself sway and crumple. My knees today seemed to protest my every move. It was a fight between the three of us, they wanting to quit after only a few seconds in each pose that required them to bend, that is until we came to Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose). I am not sure what I look like in this pose, the instructor seemed to think I was doing it right since she did not correct my form or posture and it fact said it looked good, but all I know is today this posture felt right. My knees were not complaining, my normally tight hamstrings felt just a little looser and I was experiencing a fantastic stretch in my right and then left side body. As I held Utthita Trikonasana I began to think about my practice over the last few months and how I have come to appreciate my forms just for what they are and slowly stopped kicking myself when I could not quite get there with a pose. When I first began doing yoga I would laugh self-consciously at myself often and now I still laugh often but this time it is more joyous. I have learned to find humor in my practice and it is that humor that has led me to feel the reality of my practice... I do what I can and what I can do sometimes feels magical. As I continue my weekly yoga practice I look forward to looking back over my early days of reflection on my poses, well it may not seem very pretty right now I am sure later on down the road it will be a fantastic progression of skill that just exists as a part of my yoga history.

How to do Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle):

You will want to start off in Tadasana then either toe heal your feet out into a wide straddle or you can jump your feet out (you should have them about 3 ½ to 4 feet apart). Raise your arms so the are parallel to the floor with your shoulder blades wide and your palms down. Next you will turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out about 90 degrees. Align the heals and turn your right thigh outward so the the right knee cap is in line with the right ankle. You will next exhale and extend your torso to the right then bend at the hip joint. Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle or the foot (whatever feels right to you). Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, make sure it is in line with your shoulder. You can keep your head in the neutral position or gaze up at your thumb. Switch and do the same on the other side. If you want to see a video of it check out YogaJournal's Extended Triangle Pose video.

Check out more great yoga blogs on:

Heavenly Gates Yoga Mat Bag

This bag is no longer available but please see our other options at Zen BagZ.

During round one of Zen BagZ production 3 Emerald Phoenix Yoga Mat Bags were produced and sold. Round two I have to 2 Heavenly Gates Yoga Mat Bags for sale. Please email Amanda at amanda@amandasweeklyzen.com if you are interested in purchasing a Heavenly Gates Yoga Mat Bag from Zen BagZ. Round 3 of production will begin later this week and I will be producing 2 Dragon Fire Yoga Mat Bags and 1 Emerald Phoenix Yoga Mat Bag all of which will be available for sale May 6, 2011. If you would like to reserve any of the bags on the list for Round 3 of production please email me at amanda@amandasweeklyzen.com.

Physical Description of Heavenly Gates Yoga Mat Bag:

Heavenly Gates Yoga Mat bag is a shimmering orange that is adorned with flourishes and flowers. Among the vibrant orange are a pale lavender, gold, spring green and a hint of red. The inside of the bag contains a delicate gold liner which peeks just above the top of the bag and extends to the silky handle (there is a version which has a Heavenly Gates handle and not a got satin handle).

Symbolic Meanings Behind the Bag:
Orange is typically aligned with the Svadhishthana (sva = vital force and adhishthana = seat) chakra. The Svadhishthana chakra is associated with water and your sense of taste. It is the second chakra and the poses that help you to balance this chakra are: Standing Wide Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana), Sitting Wide Forward Bend (Upavista Konasana), Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana), Supine Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana).

Availability of the Bag:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Emerald Phoenix Yoga Mat Bag

Physical Description of the Bag:
The Emerald Phoenix Yoga Mat Bag depicts a golden Phoenix in flight surrounded by red fish all on the backdrop of a dazzling emerald green. The inside of the bag is draped in a gold satin that will allow your mat to flow into the bag with ease. A white shimmery rope allows you to draw the bag closed around your mat.

Symbolic Meanings Behind the Bag:
The Phoenix is typically seen as a symbol for a person's inner fire (or their zest for life). My yoga mat bags are sort of like mood rings because each color of fabric is chosen not only for its beauty but also based on the colors of the chakras. Emerald Phoenix Yoga Mat Bag is aligned with the Anahata or Heart Chakra. The element associated with the heart chakra (4th chakra) is air and colors often associated with it are green or pink. It is located on the cardiac plexus in the region of the heart.

Availability of the Bag:
There are 2 Emerald Phoenix Bags in stock. To order please email amanda@amandasweeklyzen.com . Price $79.99 + $7.00 shipping.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Savasana (Corpse Pose)

This morning I traveled to my favorite local yoga studio for class. I expected the class to be like any other that I have had at this studio, well almost because I know each class I attend at the studio has a different teacher depending on the day and the series that we go through will vary on the mood of the instructor, but generally they all happen in the same way... start off in Savasana move on to a few warm up stretches then on to the main event (the hard poses... mainly balances and inversions) then back to final relaxation in Savasana. Different each time, yet the same. Today however felt different from the very beginning. When I arrived there were several people milling around outside the studio because the instructor had not yet arrived to open the door. The nameless people I have shared 90 minutes with 2 times a week became people with personalities and lives unknown to me in those few minutes we all stood around chatting while we waited for the instructor. Then we began the class in a leisurely sort of way, each pose we held a little longer than normal and the transition from pose to pose was just a little slower than normal. At first I thought it was just me and the summer slow down effect (each summer as it begins to get warmer I feel a slow down in my movements) but then I looked around at the rest of the class to discover that everyone else was moving a little slower than normal too. Not a sluggish sort of slow but a contemplative sort of slow. Our movements and breath filled the air and gradually a sort of calm came over the whole area and seemed to be controlled by the very energy that we were putting out into the air. The time seemed to fly by and before I knew it we were at the point were we once again place ourselves into Savasana (Corpse Pose) and systematically tell our bodies to relax and restore. Normally I never really relax in final relax. My mind never really rests, I often use the time to think about what I will be doing the rest of the day. But this time the instructor pulled out her crystal bowl. I am sure many of you have seen the bowls that create sound and vibrations. The Buddhists often call them bells and use them in meditations. Unaware that a crystal bowl would be used I laid in my normal Savasana and planned the rest of my day and then I heard it... a slight tingling sound that gradually grew and swirled around my body to the point that I felt I was all alone and no longer laying on the floor in the semi warm room that was slightly stuffy from the humidity that was seeping in from the open windows, but instead I was floating inside that crystal bowl and letting the sound completely feel my mind. I finally was able to relax in Savasana and I did not realize it until I heard the instructor prompt us to bring movement back to our limbs. Up until today's class I never really held a great appreciation for Savasana, other than it was nice to lay there after a really hard class. But today I realized the importance of a truly peaceful mediation.

How to do Savasana (Corpse Pose):

Savasana (pronounced shah-VAHS-anna) sava meaning corpse, is an easy pose to place yourself and is considered a restorative pose that is often used at the end of classes to encourage your body to relax and restore. It is also referred to as Mrtasana (pronounced mrit-TAHS-anna, mrta meaning death). To place yourself in the pose sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor, slowly lower yourself back to the floor so you are laying on your back. Spread your feet so they are mat width apart and let your feet hang to the sides. Place your arms at your side, a small distance from your body with your palms up. Once you have found your comfort zone systematically begin to envision your body relaxing from your feet up. To exit the pose stretch your arms overhead and bring your feet together, get a good stretch then roll over to your side laying on your outstretched arm. Slowly bring yourself into sitting position. Yoga Journal states that you should stay in this pose 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice.

Check out more great yoga blogs on:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yoga Vidya Books

Recently I received an email from Brain over at Yoga Vidya introducing me to their collection of Yoga books available for sale. After reading through their site and looking at their free PDF texts I knew I had to share it with my fellow Yoga readers out their. I enjoy reading the different translations of texts to compare and contrast so the more the merrier. Yoga Vidya's collection includes the following:

All are available at Amazon for purchase or you can direct order from their site. I am adding their translations to my "To Be Read" list and will let you know what I think about them here on Weekly Zen. Unfortunately they are not available for the Kindle yet. If you have any Yoga book recommendations please feel free to send them to me via email at amanda@amandasweeklyzen.com.

Check out more great yoga blogs on:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Disneyland CA

It was announced today on RunDisney'sFacebook page that the latest race in the Disney Race series is a Tinker Bell Half Marathon to be held at Disneyland January 27 -January 29, 2012. Registration is now open for all the events that weekend. Prices and information about all the events during Tinker Bell weekend are listed below. Unfortunately since this one is so close to the Walt Disney World Marathon and in California it looks like I will not be participating in it next year. But it sounds like it is going to be an awesome race similar to Disney Princess Half Marathon which happens in February 2012.

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Event Information:

Dates: January 27-29, 2012

Weekend Events will include:


Entry Fees and Deadlines

Tinker Bell Half Marathon

  • $120 by June 12, 2011
  • $130 between June 13 and September 11, 2011
  • $140 on or after September 12, 2011

Tinker Bell Half Marathon – 2-Person Team

  • $240 by June 12, 2011
  • $260 between June 13 and September 11, 2011
  • $280 on or after September 12, 2011

Never Land Family Fun Run 5K

  • $99 per participant (fee includes Twilight Theme Park Ticket*)

Disney Kids' Races

1-Mile Run

  • $25 per child

Kids' Dashes

  • $10 per child

Cancellation Policy

Entry fees for Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend events are non-refundable.


Tinker Bell Half Marathon

To compete you must be 14 years of age or older.

Never Land Family Fun Run 5K

All ages are welcome to compete. Each participant must be able to complete the 5K on their own.

Disney Kids' Races

Children 13 and under can participate in the 1-Mile Run and other race distances are determined by age group.

Pacing Requirements

All athletes entering the Tinker Bell Half Marathon or Never Land Family Fun Run 5K must maintain a 16-minute per mile pace throughout the race. Anyone not able to maintain the respective paces may be picked up and transported to the finish. You may be picked up at any point along the course and transported for not maintaining pace. It is suggested that you train at a 15-minute per mile pace.

Proof of Time

Tinker Bell Half Marathon

If you believe you will finish the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in less than 2:45 hours, proof of time is required for start corral placement. Proof of time does not apply to the Never Land Family Fun Run 5K or the Disney Kids' Races.
Please provide proof of time at the point of registration.
Proof of time should include name of race, year, distance and time finished (i.e. 2010 Disneyland® Half Marathon - 2:25). If you do not have a proof of time to submit, list “N/A” at the point of registration. Proof of time must be provided from a race 10K or longer. All forms of proof of time must be from a race after July 1, 2009. If you do not provide proof of time you will be placed in the last start corral.
If you do not provide proof of time at the point of registration or acquire it after you have registered, then email this information to disneysports@trackshack.com before November 11, 2011. After November 11, 2011, you will need to bring proof of your estimated finish time to the Runner Relations booth at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend Expo if you wish to have your start corral placement changed. If you listed a race result as proof of time when registering online, then you do not have to do anything further.

The above information is from the RunDisney Page for the TinkerBell Half Marathon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Past Present and Future

Past, present and future are not amenities of language. Time unfolds into the seams of being. It passes through you, making and shaping.

~Don Delillo “The Body Artist”

This image is available on t-shirts, mugs, bags and other gifts at my Cafe Press Store "Past, Present, Future."

Free Buddha Bookmark (Travel Well)

From time to time I like to break out my computer and create things in Photoshop. One of my favorite things to create are bookmarks (even though it is a rare occasion that I read anything that is not on my Kindle or Nook). Here is one of my favorite bookmarks I created in 2009. It is free for personal use, just click through on the picture and follow the instructions in the photo description on flickr. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Padmasana (Lotus Pose)

Long before I actually sat in a studio on a yoga mat and attempted to fold myself up into pretzels I knew how to do Padmasana (lotus pose). I do not remember exactly when I started to sit in lotus pose. All I really know about lotus is that when I finally starting going to a yoga studio for classes the easiest pose for me was lotus. I was so pleased when I looked around and noticed others struggling to get into full lotus and my legs just seemed to bend and fold right into each other. I went home after my first class and told my husband that I was able to do a perfect lotus pose. Both my knees were on touching the ground when even our instructor's knees were slightly elevated. His response was not what I expected. He just looked at me and said that he was not surprised. When I asked him what he meant he looked at me and said “You sit that way all the time, why would I be surprised that you can do it?” I looked down at my legs and realized that indeed I was unknowingly sitting in Padmasana (Full Lotus). I smiled and thought that it was incredibly cool and a sign that I was meant to continue yoga since I was already so accustomed to doing the pose that most people think of when they think of yoga. Feeling very pleased with myself I continued going to class and every time we were asked to sit in a cross legged position I busted out my full lotus and as if to show off further I would hinge at the hips and place my forehead on the ground while in full lotus. This went on for a couple of classes until I started reading Claire Dederer's Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses and she opened my eyes, “Lotus is a dangerous pose, because it's the perfect yoga pose. It's the pose that people who don't do yoga imagine when they think of yoga. When we try to fit our bodies into an idea it's dangerous. We stop feeling from the inside and take cues from the outside about what we should be doing. This can lead to injury and even worse, to dissatisfaction” (49). This really stuck with me and all the ego that I was carrying around in my Lotus pose slowly began to dissipate. Yes I can do Lotus and it would really be great if the whole class was all about Lotus but the truth is that I will never learn to do the things that I cannot now do if I kept obsessing on my perfect Lotus pose. So instead of looking at myself and then at others while in poses in class I started taking my glasses off. Now that I cannot see the others I am able to focus on how the poses feel with my whole mind instead of how I looked compared to others. And I remind myself that eventually when the poses feel right they will start to look right. All that said I still have to say that regardless of the potential cliche of Lotus, it is still my favorite yoga pose.

Check out more great yoga blogs on:

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Introducing Zen Bags!

After I wrote the recent post on my Yoga Mat Bag I received email requests from people asking me to make them a bag.... thus I present you Zen Bags. Each bag will be made by me out of only the most beautiful brocade available. To find out more about the bags or to get on the wait list for the first round of production please check out Zen Bags.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Yoga Mat Bag

yoga mat bag
Originally uploaded by Amanda's Weekly Zen
Update 4/14/11: After this post first went up I received lots of emails asking me to make them a yoga mat bag. I am thrilled that others like my yoga mat bag so I have started Zen Bags. If you want a yoga mat bag email me at amanda@amandasweeklyzen.com to get on the wait list for the first round of production.

There has always been a part of me that has wanted to practice yoga. Like many I wanted to look like the girls that did yoga, thin and muscular, graceful and confident. Way back in 2006 I joined a gym in a small mountain town that included the classes with the membership. I was excited to try my first yoga class so I went shopping to buy my own mat and fabric to make my own bag for my mat. I found a lovely silk brocade and a mat to match and got to work on my bag. When I was finished I was so proud of it, taking pictures of it inside, outside with props, up close on the fabric. I was in love with the bag and the mat and could not wait to use them. When we finally made our way to the gym we discovered that they offered only Pilates classes, not Yoga. Somewhat disappointed I went to the Pilates class. I figured that at least I could use the mat and show off the bag that I had made. It turned out that Pilates was hard and the instructor, while good was not that imaginative so classes turned out to be more repetitive work than a relaxing meditation. I literally took a couple of classes and then the gym closed its doors due to lack of funds. I was a member of my university's gym as well and I knew they offered classes but I felt intimidated by the girls who were in those classes and ultimately decided to curb my desire to do yoga. It was not until 6 years later that I gave yoga another chance. I once again busted out my bag (still looking great after six years because, well it was not really ever used) and prepared myself for yoga. This time I was more self conscious than the first time I attempted yoga. I was ready to admit I had never done yoga before and was in fact in bad shape when it came to flexibility (I could not touch my toes in a forward bend). And since I was ready to admit such shortcomings to the class and the teacher I considered leaving my yoga mat bag at home and just carry the mat. I was worried about what the bag would say about me, specifically I thought it would make me look like I could do a lot of yoga and that I would be really good at it. Ultimately I decided to take the bag... finally I would get to use it for its purpose. The first person I talked to looked at the bag, complemented me on my sewing skills and then said “So obviously you have done Yoga before.” I knew it! I looked at her and smiled “Nope, did a little Pilates but never Yoga. I am really excited to learn.” She smiled back and I like to think she did not judge me, perhaps she did either way I was ready to learn so I ignored my feelings of insecurity. I am now into my third month at the same studio studying yoga two times a week (and practicing at home three times a week). I have seen improvement physically and emotionally. That yoga bag I made so many years ago is finally starting to looked used and it finally is starting to feel like it fits me.

Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer

Claire Dederer in her memoir Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses finds herself a new mother, with a bad back and at times overwhelming anxiety. She decides that in order to be the kind of mother she wants to be and find the “goodness” in her life she needs to find an outlet that will allow her escape the “great powerful wave of exhaustion” that threatens to swallow her whole. In comes yoga. She was skeptical at first but then she finds that not only can she explore her body through yoga poses she can also dig deep inside herself to discover, confront and ultimately let go of her deepest anxieties and fears.

Dederer takes us into her life and mind and tells us the story of how she grew into yoga with sincere honesty. From her childhood experiences that shadowed her teenage and adult life to her (at the time) current family situations she bares it all and then like any good yogi sits with it and mediates on what it means.

As a beginning yoga student myself I can relate to this book on so many levels... the frustration that will build up when trying to achieve perfection in poses, the emotional realizations that can drop on you like a ton of bricks in the most surprising places and the feelings of insecurity and not quite being good enough at some of the more advanced poses. Her honesty and openness about her own practice reminded me to be more kind to myself during my own practice.

I have to admit when I began the book I was a little put off by the large quantity of talk about her family. I would say to myself and I skimmed over the beginning pages... “Why is there not more yoga in this memoir?” I really just wanted yoga with a little bit of her life sprinkled on the top like seasoning. But then I got to “Eagle Pose” and I started to ease into the flow of the book just as she began to “feel completely at ease in the pose, and yet I looked utterly unlike myself. I had discovered something new. You could will yourself into a fresh shape” (Poser 35). I began to except her narratives of her life and realize that I was beginning to even like her. She and I traveled through the rest of the memoir and when I read the last sentence on the last page I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.

I have not been effected by a memoir like I have by Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses. Dederer opened my eyes to my own insecurities on the mat and then patted me on the back and said “Just breathe into it. It is what it is.” She also made me miss my hometown of Boulder, Colorado. From Chautauqua to Naropa to Flagstaff I felt the memories of my own time there rush back. It was a little like going home if only on paper.

Read this book if you are at all interested in Yoga, Motherhood or Feminism. It is witty, honest and charming, a worthy read.

Novel Moments:

“Lotus is a dangerous pose, because it's the perfect yoga pose. It's the pose that people who don't do yoga imagine when they think of yoga. When we try to fit our bodies into an idea it's dangerous. We stop feeling from the inside and take cues from the outside about what we should be doing. This can lead to injury and even worse, to dissatisfaction.” (49)

I liked poses that held still, as implied by the word “pose.” I liked to get into the thing and inhabit it as perfectly as possible, for as long as possible. I wished I could hold them in stasis for longer, for hours, filling their shapes like they were molds and I was cake batter. (61)

Also I was enchanted by the phrase “Keep your gaze close to you.” I loved the idea of the gaze as something that might be husbanded or herded, like sheep. The gaze, in this phrase, became a resource. It would always be there to help you, if you took good care of it. (293)

Check out more great yoga blogs on:

Friday, April 01, 2011

Thousand Trails Membership

If you would like to file a complaint against Thousand Trails or ELS for defrauding you please contact Elizabeth Wilson
Senior Consumer Analyst
Division of Consumer Services
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

850-410-3791 Office
850-410-3801 Fax


I was looking over some of the new thousand trails Contracts and noticed an interesting change. 
The upgrade fee to an elite membership is near 5000.00 dollars and one must pay 3 dollars a day after 60 days.  Ouch this is a big difference from the original contracts.   For full-timers this 3 dollars a day adds up to about the cost of a years’ worth of insurance on our rig. Which over 10 years would be well over 10,000 dollars.  At this price one is better off just purchasing a used contract form a good dealer.

How to buy a Used thousand trails Membership

Now it takes about 3 to 8 weeks currently for TTNLT to facilitate the change of owner on a used membership.  So this is defiantly a draw back.  However depending on the use of the membership this could save a great deal of money for the owner over the length of ownership    and about 50% off of the price of a new contract. 
Since DA Juice Mon ( 40 foot sailing Yacht) was declared a total loss after suffering severe cracking due to a grounding in a bad storm off the coast of Islamorada FL in the Keys.  Amanda and Mav insisted on a non-sinking yacht. Therefore we purchased a luxury 40 foot  KZ Escalade 5th wheel.  (Thank you Mark Scott at Giant Recreation World Orlando for saving us about 10 grand his direct line is  407 448 1949 tell him Norwood sent you.  )
While I don’t like the direction of Thousand Trails, Naco, Leisure time, Mid Atlantic, Outdoor World I regrettably must admit there is real financial benefit to being a member.  So Amanda and I familiarized ourselves with the new contracts and fees. And while I normally recommend our guy in LOTS CA I feel one can do a lot better buying a used membership now since the new membership have so many draw backs.
It is scary buying a quality used thousand trails membership at a distance because you pay 2000 to 3000 dollars upfront and you don’t see anything for nearly a month.  I believe this process makes buying a used membership difficult and time consuming for an individual. This will stop most people from even considering a used contract.

Buying a used membership is a bit confusing and if you are not comfortable with the person you are buying from I would suggest finding a good Broker.  A good broker has many years of experience dealing with the contracts departments and is able to resolve issue quickly that might have taken a long time without their assistance.  There is no doubt you will pay a bit more for a membership using a  broker.  But this broker may very well save you a great deal of money in upgrades by helping you find the right membership the first time.   
This may not sound like a lot but I have purchased 5 different thousand trails contracts over the years and know firsthand that every contract is different. There are 1000s of variations.  So having someone familiar with all the thousand trails contracts is very necessary to buying a contract that best fits your needs. 
 If you need help finding a Broker to buy or sale please email me or Amanda at nocar303@gmail.com  (be sure to title your email TTNLT or something similar)

Good luck on your research  will see you on the TTNLT Trail!!!

Over the last few years we have helped Thousand Trails sell approximately 300,000 USD worth of upgrades for free. Just because we liked the service. However, Due to a woman who represents herself as the new manager of TT Orlando altering and canceling our reservations which were made using Thousand Trails staff we can no longer recommend buying any products Thousand Trails sells. Save yourself time, trouble, over priced dues and just buy what you need.

Thousand Trails Member Union (on Facebook)