It’s National Yoga Month and we are well on our way to celebrating with The Hot Room’s Asana Playbook. More than a challenge, the #asanaplaybook is an invitation for you to deepen your practice outside of the studio and to understand the benefits of each posture through the exploration of it. This month, we are featuring all of our Manduka mats and towels in studios to help support your practice. We had an opportunity to chat with Halle Miroglotta of Manduka about National Yoga Month, why Manduka is a product that is easy to love and what her own asana practice means to her.
Erin: Halle, thanks for chatting with me today. You are the Midwest Community Lead for Manduka. Can you tell us about your role with Manduka?
Halle: Hi Erin! Thanks for having me. I’m happy to share. Since Manduka does not have any brick and mortar stores, we rely on our yoga studio partners to represent our products to their community. Our office is based in LA, but we wanted all of our regions to experience the personal Manduka touch. The Community Leads (and there are five of us, each responsible for managing a geographical territory within the States) work on the ground floor at the studio level. Some of my roles include personal visits to our studio accounts, offering product education to teachers and staff, managing the Manduka Ambassador program, bringing organizational support to special studio events, hosting give-aways, and building relationships with owners, students, teachers, and managers. We know that running a yoga business is hard work, so we implemented the Community Lead program to support these in-studio efforts.
Erin: That’s awesome Halle, sounds like a fun job. You had an opportunity to visit The Hot Room during our Member Appreciation Week. We exclusively sell Manduka mats and towels at all three of our studios so we were very excited to host you! What were your impressions of our community?
Halle: Yes! I was able to join in on the Downtown Block Party, and managed to see both the Uptown and Downtown locations (and take my first Inferno Hot Pilates class!). Honestly, I have been thinking about The Hot Room since I came back home. Even though I was only in Indianapolis for a few days, I miss the community. I was so impressed by the full class sizes, the beautifully arranged retail space, the way teachers knew everyone by name, the way students were so open to sharing their yoga stories, and by the huge smiles that were on every single face. I loved the attention to detail, like setting out some fresh chilled watermelon for students to enjoy after a hot class. I see a LOT of studios during my workday, but this community in particular felt like home! It felt obvious that there was a real investment in the success of the space, both from teachers and managers as well as from students and visitors.
Erin: Aw, thank you. We think we have something really special and we know it is because of the amazing community that has developed at our first two studios in Indianapolis. As a Manduka Brand Ambassador, I was personally very excited for you to visit and have an opportunity to show off my Hot Room community! Can you tell us a bit about Brand Ambassadors for Manduka, how they are chosen and what they do?
Halle: Yes – our Local Manduka Ambassadors are experts of their community. We worked from a list of some of our key accounts, and then asked each of those studios to select an Ambassador. Ideally, this Ambassador is someone who already loves the mission of Manduka Yoga, is active within their community through teaching, leading educational programs, facilitating events, or running social media. The Ambassadors are some of the first people to offer feedback on our products, assist with research and development, represent our brand within their studio, offer in-house education on Manduka products, and receive certain gifts for their community throughout the year. Working directly with Ambassadors helps give me insight into studio needs, projects, and goals, and as a company, teaches us more about the incredible work happening in each of our communities.
Erin: I feel very honored to represent Manduka and further foster the relationship between the yoga brand I love and the yoga studio I love. Manduka really emphasizes that their products are made by yogis and I’ve been impressed at how interested they are in teacher feedback on products in development. It’s been really amazing getting to know this company a little better and having the opportunity to share some Manduka love back with my community. I also love that many of the values of Manduka really reflect the values of The Hot Room. What do you love about Manduka?
Halle: For me, it is not enough to just have a great product. I have always loved Manduka’s mats, but once I started to learn about their commitment toward sustainability, I knew I had found my brand. To start, I have had many different mats over the years, and would find myself needing to replace it every year or so because it would fall apart, or thin out to discomfort. After a few years of doing this, it started to feel not very responsible that my yoga practice should create so much waste. Part of having a high quality product is minimizing the need to replace it. Manduka Pro Series mats carry a life-time guarantee, and our Eko series has been tested to demonstrate it will last about 4x longer than a comparable rubber mat from another brand. So, this focus on moving away from fast-fashion “chase and replace” buying is really attractive to me. I also love the care that is taken in the factory selection. Our mats are manufactured in energy efficient facilities, no toxic emissions are released during manufacturing, and workers are payed for skilled labor. Finally, we look at mat “end-of-life” to close our responsible consumption circle. Should you need or wish to eventually replace your mat, we have a mat recycling program for our studios, which gives mats new life through repurposing.
Erin: I love that about Manduka too. I’m really proud that we only sell this product to our students because I know the mat is going to stand up well in the heat and the towels will hold up well with repeated washing (oh the hot yoga laundry!).
It’s National Yoga Month and in our community we are hosting our first social media challenge called the #asanaplaybook, encouraging students to take their asana practice out of the studio and to make an investment of time into learning correct alignment for their body and to understand the benefits of each pose. We talk about yoga being a lifelong practice and encourage our students to stay committed to their health and well-being through their yoga practice. What are some of the benefits you’ve received from your practice?
Halle: I’ve really been enjoying your #asanaplaybook social media challenge! I think it’s great encouragement to make that long-term investment, to explore postures with curiosity, and to feel supported by others doing the same. Thanks for making that challenge for National Yoga Month!
I have tremendous gratitude for yoga. Initially, I was drawn to the physical component of the asana practice. I think yoga was the first place I eventually felt strong, but it also revealed a lot of weaknesses, old injuries, and imbalances. The challenges of the physical practice eventually introduce you to your ego (or at least, mine did for me!) and I learned more about the mental components of yoga, including the philosophical framework. Eventually, the subtle work starts to become more appealing, and the focus settles on the breath, and the thoughts. Yoga is definitely is a lifetime practice of continuously revealing yourself, to yourself. I read recently, “No one is good or bad at yoga. There are only people who do yoga, and who do not do yoga.” Whether it’s working on your alignment in Warrior 2, or checking in on the way you talk to yourself in your head when things start to feel hard, you have to show up to get the benefits.
By the way, Manduka is also doing something special for National Yoga Month- we’re giving away one @mandukayoga PRO yoga mat every day of September. You can enter once a day at http://www.manduka.com/giveaway .
Erin: Oh I definitely know some Hot Room friends who would love to win a mat! Halle, thank you for chatting with me about Manduka and sharing a little about yourself. I think you know this, but you are welcome at The Hot Room anytime! Let’s plan to take a class together at our new North Shore studio soon! Is there anything else you would like to share with our community?
Halle: Absolutely, thank you so much for taking the time to connect. I look forward to getting on the mat with you again soon, and can’t wait to check out your new location in Chicago’s North Shore! If anyone has any questions about Manduka, or wants to share their yoga story, I’d love to hear from you! Reach out to @halleyoga or find me at hallemiroglotta.com. I also have a yoga podcast called Home Practice with Halle: Yoga Tools for Every Body (available on iTunes and Spotify), if you are looking for more inspiration for your at home yoga practice.
Erin: Thanks Halle.
Erin Polley is the Community Engagement Manager and an Instructor at The Hot Room. She proudly serves as a Brand Ambassador for Manduka, a maker of yoga gear and apparel. Her love for her yoga community runs deep and she enjoys creating opportunities for people to connect with one another on and off the mat. Follow Erin on instagram @ms.polley.