Off Your Mat

Bringing yoga off your mat into your life, one pose at a time.


The Book Lovers Pose

I love my first downward facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) of the day.  My hamstrings open up.  My back stretches. My neck loosens. It’s a relief.

A woman in the yoga position downward facing dog

The perfect morning

I remember my first introduction to down dog. I walked into my gym and noticed a yoga class was just starting, I thought it would be a nice alternative to the treadmill and jumped in. After our warm up, we stayed in down dog for an extended period of time.

After a few minutes, my muscles were trembling, I was sweating and I didn’t know what was supposed to be rejuvenating about the pose.  Then, it was as if my body had an epiphany and downward facing dog became a wonderful place to be. By the end of that class, I yearned for my next down dog.

Now, it is my go to pose when I need to relax, stretch and re-center myself.

I feel the same way about picking up a book.  Reading was paramount when I was a child.  As a girl, occasionally, on very rainy days, my mom would keep me home from school so we could spend the day at the local library.  After she selected her book , we would go to the children’s section and pick out a stack of colorful books for me. That crooked pillar of books looked like a pile of presents just waiting to be opened.

We would settle into a quiet corner with a large window where the rain drummed and read for hours.

Since then, I have always been reading something.

Opening a book gives me the same mindful relief as settling into down dog.  My mind goes quiet, muscles relax. I can be anywhere, a subway, an airport, a waiting room, a hospital bed, jury duty or any other of life’s holding patterns and if I have a book, I’m fine.

I always have my eye open for something else to read. Recently I discovered a great reading list on open culture that inspired me to curate my own book list.

Over the years, there are certain books that painted such vivid images, birthed such perfect characters or captured such truthful moments that they became part of my personal lexicon. I never let them go.

So this week, I have featured them in a new page called My Favorite Books.

I invite you to visit.

If there is a book on that list you haven’t read, I hope you pick it up.

On the other hand, if there is a book you don’t see on that list, tell me about it in the comments. I’m always in the market for my next read. Enjoy.


The Community Pose: Hey Ladies! It’s a Round-Up.

I prefer practicing yoga in a studio rather than at home. There is a sense of community that dwells there. Every person brings their own energy and every instructor has their own personality. A million little details allow each class to develop a life of its own. I like being a part of it. When I started practicing yoga, I didn’t realize how important that community would be to me.

The same thing has happened here. Originally, I started Off Your Mat as a writing exercise. I wasn’t tuned in to the blogosphere.  But since I took on this endeavor, I found I am suddenly part of a huge community. Each blog is a portal into someone’s unique, carefully created world and these worlds are not isolated.

My new virtual neighbors are warm and supportive. They reach out, give feedback and create opportunities to interact. I am thankful to be rubbing shoulders with some amazing talent.  No matter how different I might be from anyone one of these bloggers, I feel a kinship with all of these people howling into the abyss.

This week, to show a little hospitality, I am doing a round-up of the top 5 women’s blogs that completely inspire me.

Why just women?

Because I am one.

1) A Buick in the Land of Lexus

The first time I read A Buick in the Land of Lexus, I thought “this is everything my blog is not” and I loved it.  Samara is brash, ballsy, unapologetic and had front row tickets to everything I worshiped as a 20-something coming up in Philly.



2) Andrea Reads America

You have to love someone who gives herself a reading assignment that includes 153 books. Reader, blogger, and essayist Andrea Badgley plans to visit the entire United States through literature. She will read 3 books set in each of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Brainy! She had me at “plus the District of Columbia.”

Also, she is collecting “Show Us Your State” stories for her Andrea Reads America website. Submission guidelines are here if you would like to participate.


 3) Bucket List Publications

When I say this girl gets around, I mean it in the best possible way. Lesley Carter is bright, brave, traveling and kind enough to bring us into her universe.


 4) Deborah Rose Reeves

She’s a poet and she definitely knows it.  An Irish writer living in Portland and sharing out.  I especially love her Writing & Reading Resources.


5) Yoga Peach

Keli is the busiest, nuttiest yogi I know.  I met her in yoga teacher training and I never know what she will be up to next. Clicking here might be the only way you can keep up with her.


Tell me about the blogs you love.  Tech? Music? Fashion? Sports? Niché hobby? Politics? Gardening? Don’t leave me hanging, I wanna hear about them.