Crowdfunding Meditation Across the World: See & Do Together Could Use a Little Spare Change

saagara--meditate with the world--see and do together

[UPDATE: Check out this new video describing the project...]

How cool would it be to meditate with millions of people across the world at the same time?  It would be totally awesome!

Well, we’re big fans of the mindfulness-based tech company, Saagara, which recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to aid in the development of a new meditation app that will hopefully stretch the limits of global meditation.  The new campaign platform, See & Do Together, will work in tandem with their upcoming app, Universal Meditation, to allow users to engage in group meditation without actually sharing a physical space. Saagara hopes to use this platform to attain one of their ultimate goals: one million people meditating in unison regardless of location.

Saagara’s goal is to raise $150,000 to fund the completion of this project and I’m sure they’d be happy for any spare change you can grub out of the couch to help the cause of bringing millions together in meditation.

Here’s a little video about the project:

If nothing else, you should check out the See & Do Together Facebook page for some inspiring meditation quotes and graphics.  These are a few of my favorites.

saagara--group meditation

saagara--look inside

saagara--still the mind

saagara--thoreau

saagara--conquer the mindIf you’re interested in donating, I also found this video that lays out the awards for the different donation levels.

Have a great weekend and namaste!

Lululemon’s Yoga for (SeaWheeze) Runners = Match Made in Heaven

I’ve always been a big believer that

yoga + running = a match made in heaven.

This smooth 30 minute yoga practice, led by official lululemon SeaWheeze ambassador Kerri Kelly, is perfect for runners who need to get a little bendy after pounding the pavement.

mzl.uzxncxao.320x480-75I won’t be able to run SeaWheeze this year, but I was really impressed by lulu’s new SeaWheeze half-marathon training app for iOS. The SeaWheeze app [iTunes link] is

one part pocket sized personal trainer, one part DJ and one part Vancouver city guide. Beginner and intermediate training programs include cross training, yoga and running options designed to help you reach your running goals, regardless if you’re training for SeaWheeze or another half marathon. The app lets you track your training, share your progress and listen to incredible music to keep you motivated.

I don’t really need the Vancouver city guide (right now), but I can definitely use the personal training and DJ features. It would be an especially awesome tool if they eventually allowed users to select their own training start dates so it can be effectively used for other races. But, for what it is–the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon app–it does a pretty amazing job. Check out all the details on lululemon’s blog.

Happy running and stretchy yoga goodness, friends:)

Get your virtual chillax on with Yoga Retreat on Facebook…

You know you’re curious to find out what this Facebook “Yoga Retreat” game is all about. Well, wait no longer, Yoga Retreat is now live and just waiting for you to unleash your virtual yogic amazingness.

 Here’s more details from the press release:

HELSINKI, Finland – August 9th 2012 – Gajatri Studios, an independent and innovative social games development studio, announce the release today of their debut title, Yoga Retreat on Facebook.

The first social management game derived from authentic well-being and yoga content, players will take on the role as a yogini, building their own tropical wellbeing island resort through practicing and teaching genuine yoga techniques, curing their digital customers’ ailments and completing quests to collect virtual currency.

As players advance through Yoga Retreat, new yoga poses to practise and facilities to build and use will be unlocked.  These include the Steam Room for aching muscles, the Beach practice area for advanced yoga practices and the Juice Bar where healthy drinks for ailing customers can be made from ingredients harvested from the resort. Playing alongside Facebook friends will enhance the game experience as players can share items and visit ‘Friends’ retreats.

“People new to yoga often tell me that they have a hurdle of going into yoga classes because they do not understand why asanas are practiced, or the logic of the flow, or do not recognize the pose names. Yoga Retreat uses fun game mechanics such as practicing and teaching yoga, as well as curing customers ailments, to gradually reveal these ideas for casual game players.” Commented Tiina Zilliacus, founder of Gajatri Studios

In addition to the well-being techniques players will learn throughout the game, Yoga Cat, the in-game furry friend is on hand to show players simple neck, shoulder and spine exercises for the a truly relaxing social gaming experience.

A gameplay trailer for Yoga Retreat can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eak8uCCcOkA

About Gajatri Studios

Formed in September 2011 by Tiina Zilliacus, a certified yoga teacher with 14 years of production, marketing and business management experience in games, online and mobile start-ups, Gajatri Studios was created to be an innovative and unique proposition within the social gaming space; a well-being games company creating fun and engaging social games derived from authentic well-being content. Yoga Retreat is set to be the company’s first game, releasing on Facebook in August 2012, a game that is both fun and uplifting highlighting genuine yoga techniques to enhance players’ mental and physical health.

Isn’t Yoga Cat cute? What do you think–are you going to play?

Airplane Yoga for Holiday Travelers

Traveling during the upcoming holidays has its plusses and minuses. You know it will be great to see family and friends, but the enhanced airport security measures stress you out. Then there’s sitting in a safety-oriented airplane seat that was not built for comfort. With a few planning tips and yoga poses to do at the boarding gate and on the plane you can arrive feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.

Whether you’re going home for the holidays or are jetting off to a yoga retreat destination, here are some tips to reduce the stress of flying.

Travel guru, Michael Huffman, was a road warrior for 20+ years in corporate America as a compliance manager. According to this veteran traveler, flying doesn’t have to be stressful. Some of the stress-reducing tactics he’s developed include planning tips, ways to relax en-route to the airport, essential things for your carry-on bag and yoga poses to do at the boarding gate.

These ‘Strategies for Zen-like Air Travel’ include some suggestions to make the visit home or to your destination yoga retreat more relaxing and pleasant:

  • Planning 24 Hours Ahead of the flight
    – Clean a stainless steel water bottle & let it air-dry overnight
    – Put a drop of lavender essential oil on a blindfold
  • Packing List Essentials for the Carry-On Bag:
    – Ear plugs to reduce body fatigue from engine noise on board
    – A sweater or fleece you can roll up and use as lumbar support or stay warm if the air-conditioning on board is too much for you
  • On the Way out the Door & En-Route to the Airport:
    – Wear slip-on shoes and empty all pockets of cell phones, keys and coins prior to arriving to speed through security
    – Take a few inhales and exhales en-route to the airport; Inhale 1-2-3-4, Exhale 4-3-2-1
  • Boarding Gate Yoga (find a place away from any TV screens):
    – Sitting in a Chair: Easy forward bend and elbow circles
    – Sitting on the Floor: Badha Konasa and Virasana Twists

In addition to these ‘Strategies for Zen-like Air Travel,’ Michael developed 24 sitting and standing poses that can be done on the plane in his Traveller Yoga Series: AIRPLANE YOGA.  Each yoga pose includes an illustration and a text description of how to enter the pose.

Here are illustrations for some of the AIRPLANE YOGA poses: Wrist Opener, Palm Pushes and Standing Twist:

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The iPhone App and iBook ‘enhanced’ versions include an audio recording of Michael guiding you through each pose as well as a video clip for 13 of the poses. He offers a free PDF with these three poses and a the full Table of Contents any yogi or yogini can appreciate…http://thezenguy.com/store/airplane-yoga/

[About Michael:  Michael is both a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT200) and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He spent 20+ years in ‘Corporate America’ as a road warrior and now designs practical yoga instructions like AIRPLANE YOGA and YOGA FOR OFFICE PROFESSIONALS available as iPhone apps and downloadable books on Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Additionally, he maintains a travel blog about his current travels as well as vignettes from his upcoming book Memoirs of a Road Warrior; his stories will make you laugh, cry and everything in between. Sign up here…http://thezenguy.com/stories/.]

Yoga Apps For Your Mac

Slowly but surely some of our favorite iPhone/iPad yoga apps are showing up in the Mac App store.  Okay, well actually there are basically only two yoga apps in the Mac App store right now fit to be classified as “yoga” apps, but it’s a start, and I’m absolutely positive there will be more competitors soon.  Here’s my review of the two apps currently available.

Pocket Yoga (4.5 stars)

Pocket Yoga has been in the App store pretty much since the App store opened, has received excellent reviews, and currently sells for $4.99.  Similar to its iPhone/iPad counterparts, Pocket Yoga provides detailed watercolor illustrations with options of practicing in ocean, desert, or mountain surroundings, at three different difficulty levels, and for three different durations.  Each type of terrain brings a different focus and intensity level to the practice.  Basically the app includes twenty-seven practice variations in total, plus Sun Salutations A & B.  The instructor provides pleasant voice and visual instruction through each pose, as well as gives cues for inhalation and exhalation.  Though some consider background music a necessity to their yoga practice, others would rather clean their yoga mat with their tongue than listen to music during yoga.  Fair warning that the app includes (tolerable) background music, but also has the option to turn both music and voice instruction off if desired.   Although I give Pocket Yoga a solid 4.5 stars, I’m also surprised that it lacks some of the great features of the less expensive iPhone ($2.99)/iPad ($3.99) apps, such as practice history, customized music, and a detailed pose description section.  Perhaps those will end up in future updates, or perhaps the developers figure you already own the iOS apps and they just want to keep things simple with the Mac app.  I’m guessing we’ll continue to see improvements and additional features in the future.  Bottom-line, although the iPhone and iPad Pocket Yoga apps are fabulous for on the go, the Mac app is an outstanding value as a low-cost supplement to a home yoga practice.

Pranayama (4 stars)

Pranayama is new to the Mac App store (added 9 March) and is currently available at an introductory price of $4.99.  Much like its iPhone ($4.99 univeral app) and iPad ($4.99) variations, which I’ve previously reviewed, the Pranayama app for the Mac offers the same simple and intuitive pathway to deep breathing and relaxation based on yogic principles.  Combining the power of breath with technology, as well as pleasing music options and animated visuals, the Pranayama for Mac app guides the practitioner to slower, deeper breathing, which amazingly enough results in more energy, stamina, and focus.  Very yogic, and definitely a useful concept for progressing beyond the asana level of the eight limbs of yoga.  With that said, unless you meditate in a chair in front of your computer or have no problem moving your laptop onto the ground or have a very short desk, this is one of those apps that’s probably slightly less functional on the Mac than its more mobile iOS versions.  Though the iPad version is practically perfect for those who always meditate on the floor (or basically anywhere), there’s no doubt that desk dwellers will love having the option of a full screen app that brings a little relaxation to their desktop.  Read more here about how the app works and try a demo to see if it’s for you.

While yoga apps are just beginning to make their way to the desktop, Pocket Yoga and Pranayama are definitely two great offerings to kick things off.

Three Parting Questions:

  1. What future do you expect for desktop yoga apps?
  2. What iPhone or iPad yoga app would you love to see on your desktop?
  3. Are yoga apps a helpful tool in your practice?

Dominate Technology and Breathe Better with the Totally Awesome iPad/iPhone Pranayama App

Technology is a two-edged sword.  It makes our lives easier in so many ways, but it also brings with it all sorts of distractions (too many to list here). President Bush may have never found WMD’s in Iraq, but he could have looked a little closer to home because pretty much all of us carry around WMD’s — Weapons of Mass Distraction — in our pockets and purses all day. It’s awesome though when we discover new uses for our favorite grown-up toys that don’t ratchet up the distraction frenzy, but rather calm our minds, focus our attention for more than 30 seconds, and encourage a little more mindfulness in our daily activities.

I recently discovered the “Health Through Breath – Pranayama” app for my iPhone and iPad and can tell you that it’s now one of my favorite and most used iOS apps.  With its beautiful graphics and interface, the Pranayama app simply and effectively guides the user through a variety of stress-reducing breathing exercises.  I wouldn’t say I’m an expert in pranayama–I’ve read more about it than actually practiced it–but this app is making me a true believer in the power of breath control.  If you’re interested in using your technological resources to discover more about this fourth limb of yoga, you should check out the demo on the app’s website.

The website also provides a great review of many of the health benefits of pranayama.  I won’t rehash all the science here (you can visit the website), but I’ve noticed that even practicing slow breathing for only five to 15 minutes a day has helped clear my mind and reduce any stress I might be feeling.  If you could use a little more focus and a lot less stress in your life, then I recommend giving the Pranayama app a serious look.

Expand Your Yoga Practice with iPhone Yoga Apps

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve accumulated a fair number of yoga apps on my iPod Touch. Though I haven’t played around with them enough to decide which ones I like best, here’s the current list of yoga apps on my iPod [links go to iTunes App Store]:

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I did most of the primary series yesterday using the iPhone YogaMat app to follow along with an Ashtanga podcast I downloaded on iTunes. The app thing worked much better than I expected, especially since the full version of the YogaMat app has the primary and intermediate series sequences already programmed in. However, the YogaMat app only has poses, no instruction. The little stick figure guys are great though.

That worked so well that I decided to practice today with Yoga Journal’s iPractice app. The iPractice app has voice instruction and background music to practice with. The full version of iPractice has 15 complete classes. It’s basically Yoga Journal’s “Home Practice” section on steroids. Having some good yoga instruction on my iPod made squeezing yoga practice into a busy day away from home a cinch.

FYI: This weekend only, if you’re looking for a nice yoga app, Authentic Yoga with Deepak

Chopra and Tara Stiles is on sale for 99 cents. I bought it for $2.99, so that’s a real good deal.  It’s one of the best looking yoga apps I’ve seen and it has tons of great video and audio instruction.  Highly recommended!

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Maybe you could practice Yoga with Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles on your iPhone

Get your bliss on anywhere with a new yoga app for your iPhone or iPod Touch.  iTunes has a decent number of yoga apps available.  Some look good, some look horrid, but this one featuring Deepak Chopra and Tara Stiles looks promising.

Any recommendations for iPhone yoga apps?  I’m possibly in the market, but don’t want to waste money on something that’s not top-notch.

Yoga Flash Card Game

You no longer have an excuse to be bored on the computer or mentally lazy now that you know about ConcentratiOm, Gaiam’s new yoga pose memorization tool.  Featuring renowned instructors Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman, ConcentratiOm is a game that challenges players to test their memory and yoga knowledge.

Learning and remembering yoga pose names has never been more fun!…Whether you’re new to yoga or an advanced yogi, you’ll have fun giving those brain cells a quick yoga workout. New poses every time you play!

I’ve played the game, and I must admit, it’s pretty fun.  It ought to be especially useful for learning the Sanskrit terms for each of the poses.  What can I say?  Rodney Yee rocks once again.

Visualize Your Yoga Practice with Yogafont

Have you ever wanted to create your own visual representation to follow for your yoga practice? Well, Yogafont makes it pretty easy by letting you use your word processor to create your own asana sequence. Yogafont has 98 graphic images of common yoga poses to choose from. All you have to do is download the font and you’re ready to use your keyboard to get started. The Yogafont website provides details on what keys to type for each asana. For the most part, the asanas are grouped into various categories, and each category is assigned to a row of keys as far as possible. The great part about Yogafont is that it is free! So, go ahead, download the font and have some fun.

Here are a couple of demonstration pages from the Yogafont website to give you an idea of what you might be able to do. Click on the links to see the full size pdf file.

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Sun Salutation

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