How To Roll A Yoga Mat

“What do you mean?! I just roll it up, right?” 

That’s what most people do: start at one end of the mat and roll until the other end is reached. But think about what that means:

– Your yoga mat has two sides: when you unroll it for use one side lies flat on the floor of whatever studio/gym/living room/etc in which you are exercising (or outside on the ground). You put your hands/feet/knees/butt/head on the other side.

– When class is over, you pick up the mat at one end, curl the mat end under or over and start rolling – either way you are rolling the two sides into contact with each other!

– Whatever was on the floor/rug/ground underneath the mat is now being transferred onto the side of the mat you will use next time to be in contact with your body (and that’s assuming you have a pattern or other indicator of which side is “up” – otherwise you might be using the “down” side up next time).

Unless you wash or thoroughly wipe down both sides of your mat after every class you are only using it for padding/traction, not for preventing contact with a multi-use floor of unknown cleanliness.

So instead of rolling up the mat starting from one end, do it this way:

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Unboxing Review: Ninja Standing Desk

A couple months ago I wrote about using a standing desk. In that article I mentioned a Kickstarter project for a portable standing desk. I did contribute to that project, it was funded, and today I received my Ninja Standing Desk.

I made a quick an unboxing and initial test video:

I haven’t had a chance to work on it yet, but here are some initial impressions:

– Assembly was quite easy (once I refreshed my memory with their video. They have not yet printed up instruction sheets – I had an early-bird delivery).

– The shock-corded aluminum tubes that support the shelves and let them fold in half for packing work well, though it took a bit of wrangling to pull them apart once assembled (which is not a bad thing when you plan to put a computer or monitor on them).

– The long straps onto which you fasten the shelves are all “loop” velcro on one side. I would have liked it if they had a bit of “hook” velcro on one end in such a way as to keep the strap coiled when in the bag (they were tacked with a pin for delivery).

 – The door hooks worked well. It also comes with drywall hooks.

– It is packed in a carry bag that has enough room for some other items like an iPad or a small keyboard.

I don’t know when I’ll next take a trip for using this, but I’m happy to have it. Once they fulfill their Kickstarter rewards I’m sure this will be a big hit – visit their website for more info and ordering.

And if you like the music in the video, that’s one of my pieces

Hearing Protection For Musicians

Whether you play in a rock band or an orchestra  (e.g., viola section in front of the timpani, woodwinds in front of the brass, etc), you NEED to protect your hearing.

The cheap foam earplugs many bars will sell you for a buck are better than nothing, but you will rightly complain that you cannot really hear music properly through them – it’s all muffled with lots of frequency loss.

Which it why it’s best to plan ahead and obtain “musicians’ earplugs” which are designed to filter sound evenly over the entire spectrum, low to high – protecting your ears from damaging sound levels while still allowing you to enjoy all elements of the performance.

Depending on your budget, musicians’ earplugs are available from around $10 for a basic model to $150+ for a custom fitted set.

Alison Brill & Alison Murray, who I met at Ladies Rock Camp, recommend these custom plugs. They say:

Best investment I’ve ever made, seriously. They allow you to hear accurately while protecting you from damaging sounds. They’re $150 and you can get them at Brookline Hearing Services, or from most audiologists. Keep rockin’ (safely)!

And if you are not up for that cost at the moment, I recommend Alpine Musicsafe earplugs – not custom, but they do a good job, are comfortable, and have 2 different interchangeable filters depending on how loud your environment is. These go for about $22 ($28 if you want a choice of 3 filter levels).

There are more choices in the $8-$20 range here. Frankly, the best earplugs are the ones you have with you everywhere – if you suddenly find yourself in an uncomfortably loud movie theater or other event, are you really going to run back out to your car for them?! Most models come with a case that fits on your keychain. In addition to my “good” pair on my keys, I also have a $10 pair on EVERY instrument case, and a spare set in my car in case my partner forgets hers.

My father had 80% hearing loss by the time he was 80, due to firing anti-aircraft guns during WWII with only cotton stuffed into his ears – don’t be that cranky old guy/gal!