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Teach yourself yoga basics at home with Yoga by Numbers

Posted by Melissa Massello  February 7, 2014 01:35 PM

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yoga_by_numbers_elizabeth_morrow.jpgPhoto: The Grommet

If, like the rest of the world, you were captivated by the tear-jerking transformational story of Arthur Boorman, the disabled ex-paratrooper and Gulf War veteran who used self-taught yoga to learn to walk again, you're going to love the story of Yoga by Numbers — a teach yourself yoga mat designed right here in Boston and currently crowd-funding on Kickstarter.

In March of 2012, Yoga by Numbers founder Elizabeth Morrow found herself in a similar position to Arthur — recovering from a partially collapsed lung & blood clots, she was prescribed yoga for recovery but found getting to a class to be nearly impossible when juggling the logistics of doctors appointments and the limitations of studio schedules. If she was able to make it to a class, Morrow found that the physical pain and fatigue made sticking it out for the entire session nearly impossible — and was frustrated by nearly every "introductory" yoga DVD that seemed to assume she already knew the basic fundamentals of yoga.

"I wanted a way to learn yoga from scratch and in the privacy of my own home, and when I couldnt find it, I wanted to create it," Morrow said. "As I got healthier, I set my sights on becoming a certified yoga teacher and working with people who were also managing health conditions — the more I practiced and learned, the clearer the idea became until one day the mat design [for Yoga by Numbers] popped into my head."

yoga_by_numbers_the_grommet.jpgPhoto: The Grommet

Morrow completed her 200-hour teacher training with David Vendetti at South Boston Yoga, a yoga instructor for more than 20 years and an advisor on the Yoga by Numbers product. Morrow then worked with her mom, an artist, to design the first Yoga by Numbers design in PowerPoint and silk screen it onto a standard yoga mat.

By using a grid and graph pattern, Yoga by Numbers "teaches people to teach themselves by starting with common cues and fundamental poses, and helps them determine how they should be positioned and aligned according to their own proportions and flexibility," Morrow said. "We show you how to establish where your feet should be when the instructor says to stand with your feet 'hips-distance apart,' for instance, which may seem obvious but when you watch a class you see everyone interprets that differently."

Much like a Paint by Numbers guide for budding artists, Morrow compares her mat to the experience of taking a yoga class or at-home yoga DVD like this: "If I give you a blank piece of paper and a piece of graph paper and ask you to draw a perfect square on each, which version comes out better?"

Morrow is currently manufacturing Yoga by Numbers mats in Pennsylvania of environmentally sustainable natural rubber & phthalate-free ink, offering them for sale through Somerville-based online marketplace If her Kickstarter campaign is successful, Morrow will build an additional library of content and a companion website, adding to her initial instructional DVD (which includes the basic mechanics of 30 yoga poses) with podcasts, videos, and online classes.

The Yoga by Numbers starter package — including the patented mat, DVD, and carrying strap — retails for $120, though in the future Morrow hopes to offer a discount to non-profit organizations and community groups helping her target demographic: people who want to practice yoga for better health but find that cost, logistics, or medical issues prevent them from getting to a studio yoga class and who find it easier to practice at home.

"We are a values-driven benefit corporation, and anticipate some of our early adopters will be values-driven customers, along with people who relate on a practical level," Morrow said. "Yoga by Numbers is firmly committed to the idea that when healthy activities and products are more accessible, people's lives will be better. Our health as a nation is directly related to every individual's health. Yoga by Numbers will strive every day to be inclusive, to think of new ways to increase universal access to healthy activities, and to make yoga simple and convenient. We are on a mission."

If you want to be a part of that mission, or just want to learn more about Yoga by Numbers, check out Morrow's Kickstarter campaign (video below), which ends on February 26th, 2014.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the Authors

Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out More »
Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »

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