Tag Archives: yoga

Westporter Solves Ancient Yoga Puzzle

We can send a telescope squintillions of miles into space, and receive images back showing the birth of the universe.

We can ask Google how many zeroes are in a googolplex, and get481,000 answers in 0.38 seconds.

But we cannot make a yoga towel that doesn’t slip when we sweat.

At least, we couldn’t until recently.

Finally, that problem — one that has, presumably, bedeviled yoga practitioners for 5,000 years (thanks, Google!) — has been solved.

It took a Staples High School graduate to do it.

Nicole Rothschild, with her mat and invention.

Nicole Rothschild grew up here. A Wrecker soccer star, she went on to Cornell University. She was hired by Goldman Sachs as an investment banking analyst, and associate in the urban investment group.

But Wall Street wasn’t for her. Nicole joined a startup, then started on a backpacking trip in Japan and Patagonia.

When COVID hit, she returned to Westport. Doing yoga at home — instead of her favorite spot, Kaia — she had time to wonder about something.

Why did her towel always move around under her hands and feet? Wasn’t there some way to secure it?

Google did not provide an answer.

Surprised there was nothing in the vast yoga marketplace, she began tinkering. She talked to people who had created products, and found Ran Lerner, an industrial engineer in Israel. (He had helped a friend’s mother with her own problem: how to keep guacamole from turning brown.)

Nicole’s requirements: a clip had to be flat, so it wouldn’t disturb the yoga practice.

It had to be heat resistant (hot yoga rooms get hot). 

It had to be small, and unobtrusive.

Working together — well, on different continents — he helped Nicole devise a clip to hold the towel in place on the mat.

It may not rank up there with sliced bread. But for yoga practitioners, it takes the cake.

So does the name.

It wasn’t easy. Finally, Nicole came up with perhaps the greatest name since Wonder Bread.

At the end of a yoga session, the teacher often says “namaste.” The Sanskrit phrase means “I bow to you.”

So … Nicole calls her product “Namastay.” Pronounced the same, it gives the clear idea: This yoga towel will stay.

Nicole trademarked the name Her utility and design patents are pending.

She hoped to manufacture Namastay in the US. Despite scouring the internet, she could not find a company here that could do it reasonably.

So she’s worked with a firm in Hong Kong. They went through several prototypes, and now have one they like.

A Kickstarter campaign raised $25,000. That was enough for tooling, and an initial order of 2,500. The first shipment arrived in November.

Nicole also worked with a design firm on branding (colors, fonts, a website and more).

“Every step is a new challenge,” she says. “But a lot of kind people gave me 30 minutes of their time to help get me where I am.”

Kaia Yoga bought the first 50 clips, for their 8 locations.

She’s figuring out now how to get the word out to yoga studios, and home practitioners.

After coming this far — figuratively and literally (from Japan and Patagonia), Nicole should be able to solve that one too.


Kids Pose For Yoga Classes

Twenty years of practicing yoga has helped Carly Walker complete 2 Ironman races, and 25 marathons — injury-free.

Friends describe their aches, pains and sports-related injuries. When she tells them that yoga can align their bodies and prevent injuries — plus keep them sane — they don’t listen.

She gave up trying to convince them. Now the Westporter is concentrating on the next generation.

Carly Walker

“If I can help kids adopt yoga into their lives at a young age, it will help their bodies and minds for a lifetime,” she says. “Yoga is all about handling life and stress better off the mat.”

She wanted to give youngsters the tools to help breathe when they get upset, stressed or frustrated. Yoga helps kids stay calm on the inside, even amid chaos.

The result: Child’s Pose. The “studio for young souls” is open at 8 Church Street South (next to Little Barn).

Classes include toddlers with parents and caregivers (ages 1-4); pre-schoolers (3-5), elementary schoolers (5-10) and middle schoolers (11-14).

Carly offers 2 free classes today (Thursday, August 26): Elementary (3 to 4 p.m.), and Mom & Me (4:30 to 5:15 p.m.).

There are many similarities between adult and kids’ yoga, Carly says. But children learn through play, so she makes things fun. Amid giggles, she helps them find “inner peace, and some quiet moments on their mat.”

When she pulls out a stuffed animal dog, her young students know it’s time to get into downward dog. Poses like sleeping butterfly help ease anxiety in children, she says.

Middle schoolers enjoy yoga …

Carly shows them how to recreate poses at home, with items in their house.

All children can benefit from yoga, Carly says. “Yoga helps with flexibility, strength and balance. It improves their focus and concentration, and connects their minds to their bodies to reduce stress and anxiety. It also aids in self-esteem and confidence.”

Special needs youngsters — such as those with ADHD and autism — benefit especially from yoga, she notes. It reduces anxiety, helps with emotional regulation, improves confidence, provides consistency and helps with inner peace.

Before moving to Westport 5 years ago, Carly taught children’s yoga in New York. She is impressed with our town’s support of children.

She’s seen the competitive side of athletics here — and was an athlete herself — so she also wants people to know that a flexible, mobile body prevents injuries.

Feedback has ben good. Parents have seen children start to become angry with a sibling or friend, then say, “I’m going to breath like Ms. Carly taught me to.”

A child having trouble sleeping may put a stuffy on their belly, rock it to sleep — and fall asleep themselves.

… and so do much younger children. (Photos/Julia D’Agostino)

Some youngsters enter her studio skeptically, she says. Soon they forget about whatever happened on the playground, or the test looming tomorrow.

“Fear and anxiety come from thinking about the past or future,” Carly says.

“Standing on one foot and one hand in a yoga pose is all about being in the moment.”

(For more information click here, or follow on social media: @childsposewestport.)

Roundup: Mental Illness, Senior Center, Namaste,

Margie Friedman’s mother Steffi was a well-known Westport sculptor. Her works grace Temple Israel, Earthplace and the library’s children’s section.

Margie — a 1972 Staples High School graduate — is quite accomplished too. Her recently completed documentary, “Orchestrating Change,” tells the inspiring story of the only orchestra in the world created by and for people living with mental illness, and those who support them. The mission of Me2/Orchestra — “me, too” — is to erase stigma, one exhilarating concert at a time.

With compelling characters, striking animation, beautiful music, even humor, “Orchestrating Change” shows what living with a mental illness is really like. The film challenges audiences to reconsider preconceived notions, and empowers those living with a diagnosis.

The film is currently airing on public television nationwide, and is available on PBS Passport for subscribers. To learn moreand read reviews, click here. For the trailer, click here.

The Senior Center’s next quarter begins Thursday (October 1).

Over 40 programs are offered by Zoom: yoga, essentrics, Pilates, tai chi, cardio workout, strength training and dance, and others including history, ukulele, support groups, concerts and more.

Click here for a list of fall classes. To register, click here, then follow the prompts — or call 203-341-5099 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For scholarships and othrd questions, call 203-341-5099, or email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.

This past weekend was a productive one, for Westport’s National Charity League chapter. Members collected 1,640 pounds of food, for the Person-to-Person program.

Yoga instructor Paula Schooler has some very cool “Namastay @ Om” t-shirts for sale.

They’re available in men’s and women’s sizes, small through extra large, in black and gray for $20. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Connecticut Nurses Foundation COVID-19 Heroes Fund.

For more information email stringofpearls36@aol.com, or call 203-226-6465.

And finally … a little something to get you ready for tonight’s presidential debate.

Gym Closes; Beloved Yoga Teacher Goes Too

Alert “06880” reader — and local author — Dalma Heyn writes:

I love yoga. But I don’t love practicing it in gyms—after Zumba classes in meat-market cold rooms with sweat-soaked floors; rooms with no yoga props, but with the sound of heavy metal pumping in tune with those pumping iron.

But then not long ago, into the New York Sports Club in Westport walked a 22-year-old yoga teacher named Julian Arias. Twenty-two! Julian calmly turned off the air-conditioner, and proceeded to show us how to forget we were in a gym not by telling us to forget it, as though it were easy and morally correct to do so by just meditating on warmth,  but by spending an hour with him and witnessing his gentle, knowledgeable, experimental teaching of this ancient practice.

Julian Arias

Julian Arias

Soon his classes grew: Older men with no experience; young women with lots of it; teens, athletes, all came to experience this gifted teacher transform a gym into a studio.  “In the 30years I’ve been doing yoga, I’ve never found someone so in tune,” says Morgaine Pauker. “He’s the best.”

He was trained, as many fine yoga teachers have been, at Kripalu, in Lenox, Massachusetts. But his knowledge of anatomy is extraordinary, so he expertly departs from the familiar so that we feel what the movements were designed to do many thousands of years ago—and to do for us, right now. “I’ve never been in his class when he hasn’t done something new: He taps into places in my body and mind that I was unaware were so tense,” says Eileen Winnick.

His gentle riffs on traditional postures are like those of a jazz musician who knows the melody in his bones but whose soul impels him to explore other ways of expressing it.  We leave, this motley crew of Silver Sneakers and our grandkids, the inflexible and the balletic, athletes and klutzes, feeling wonderful. And also feeling united–which is, after all, what “yoga” means.

“He absolutely has changed my perspective,” says Laurie Vogel. “I live every day in the day—and I’m much more productive.”

Cindy Gates calls him “our therapist.”

It’s clear that our town is losing 2 gems at once: a lovely little gym that was free for many of us of a certain age, and a gifted young man born, as he puts it, to teach yoga.

Beer And Yoga On The Green

Beer, yoga and breast cancer awareness.

They don’t always go together. But the Westport Downtown Merchants Association has found a way to make a weekend out of all 3.

The beer flows at Westport's Biergarten on the Green.

The beer flows at Westport’s Biergarten on the Green.

The group is gearing up for tomorrow’s 2nd annual Biergarten on the Green (Saturday, October 19). Last year’s event was a great one, though it drew about 100 out-of- towners for every 1 beer-drinker (and sausage-eater) from Westport.

Abbey has donated an enormous tent, covering most of Veterans Green across from Town Hall. Cathy Colgan — the WDMA’s event-planning genius — realized it would sit empty on Sunday, before being dismantled and picked up on Monday.

A cancer survivor, Cathy was already figuring out how to honor Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Coincidentally, Norwalk Hospital’s Smilow Family Breast Health Center was searching for a way to raise awareness in Westport.

So — with help from Lululemon, coordinating local yoga studios — Yoga on the Green was born.

Yoga on the GreenFrom 9 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. on Sunday (October 20),  instructors from M3 Yoga, Saugatuck Studios, the Westport Weston Family Y, Oxygen Fitness, Yoga for Everybody, Venture Yoga and Yogapata will conduct yoga and meditation sessions.

They’re suitable for every age and level of experience. Just bring your own mats or towels.

The idea is to raise awareness that both yoga and traditional medical treatment can promote healing, relaxation and well-being.

Yoga on the Green is free, but a suggested $25 donation will help pay for holistic therapies that can ease pain and anxiety for Smilow Center patients.

Of course, the day before, Biergarten-goers can ease pain and anxiety their own way. In the same tent as yoga practitioners.

It’s a big one.

Up On The Roof

Every day brings a new revelation about Saugatuck’s renaissance.

This week, it was the roof.

Seems there’s a nice rooftop on Bridge Square. It offers spectacular views of the Saugatuck River, Bridge Street Bridge, kayakers and scullers and seagulls…

Too bad it’s limited to tenants of the small shopping center — not their customers.

Except for fitness buffs at Saugatuck Studios.

Starting this Saturday, Fran Hoyte’s studio hosts rooftop classes.

Herma Hale will conduct Hatha yoga classes Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., on the Bridge Square rooftop. (Photo/Frances Hoyte)

They range from Pilates and hatha yoga to functional strength sessions. The earliest is 6:30 a.m.; the latest, 6:15 p.m. The timing (and location) make them perfect for time-starved commuters.

But — this being yoga — you can work out your stress (and tight muscles) in one of the most serene (and secret) settings in Westport.

An added bonus:  You face due east. Sunrises are great. In the evening, the light reflecting off the water is amazing.

Saugatuck Studios is located on the lower level of Bridge Square (site of a former fish market). There’s an awesome river view.

That’s one secret of Saugatuck.

The rooftop is another.

What’s next? Westport eagerly awaits the revelation.

(For more information click here; then click “Class Sign Up.”)