Teacher Feature ~ Erin Truitt

Erin teaches Kids Adventure Yoga and Yoga Body Boost.
Join Erin for a special Kids Adventure Yoga Series at Rollie Pollie this summer. Register Here!
Favorite pose and why?

Dragon Flying High pose because it is a deep hip flexor stretch with many variations. We sit in chairs way too much in our culture, and this is the perfect counter movement! It also feels great after a long run or bike ride.

First introduced to yoga?

Our vicar’s wife from a church we attended 11 years ago was a yoga instructor who studied under Baron Baptiste. She led free yoga classes at the church one night a week and convinced me to try it out. I loved the individual attention and adjustments she provided, which provided a great knowledge base for me in proper alignment in many poses.

10 words or less on why I love yoga?

Yoga is about balance: emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual.

How does my practice make me stronger?

I have mild scoliosis, but when I practice yoga regularly, my hips often realign. I love unilateral poses to help balance both sides of my body making them equally strong and less prone to injury. I also don’t do well in extreme heat conditions, so hot yoga helps ease my body (and mind) into tolerating the hot Arkansas summer.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?

I try to bring balance to every aspect of my life. Outdoor and indoor. Activity and rest. Learning and teaching. Talking and listening. Family and career.

Advice to beginner yogi?

Don’t try to be anyone else. Some people will be more flexible than you. Some people will be stronger than you. Some people will be more knowledgeable than you. Watch more advanced students for direction and inspiration, but endeavor to be the best YOU and encourage other beginners who come after you to do the same!

Mantra or intention?

“Encourage”. Everyone has potential and purpose and deserves to be appreciated for who they are and the uniqueness they bring to the world.

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?

That I must be incredibly flexible. I have short arms and torso and long legs, and my anatomy simply will not allow for depth in some poses. I keep practicing and expanding my practice as I can, but our bodies are all a little different!

One healthy food I swear by and why?

Spinach. I love its versatility! It is easy to sneak into every meal of the day, including sweet baked goods. My kids were shocked the first time they saw pancakes that were NOT brownish-green, ha!




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Yogi's of the Month ~ Mark and Lisa Hufford

How long have you been practicing yoga?
Mark ~ I began practicing yoga in January of 2016 with my wife Lisa.
Lisa ~ I've been practicing since Jan. 2016. I started because I was invited by a friend and found out Mark was interested in trying it too.

What's your favorite pose & why?
Mark ~ Not sure I have a favorite pose, but I love moving through the chataranga's (no idea how to spell that) as a foundation element to each practice. In any endeavor you have to love and
embrace the foundational aspects and disciplines - no matter if your a novice or expert.
Lisa ~ My favorite pose is half pigeon. My hips are always tight and it's such a great stretch!

10 words or less describing why I love yoga?
Mark ~It's a fun, sweat inducing, breath relaxing, core
strengthening, flexibility-enhancing, teacher inspired challenge! (Sorry 12 words).
Lisa ~ I love yoga because it encompasses all areas of fitness including breath control and focus.

How does your yoga practice benefit your other passions/hobbies?
Mark ~ Yoga benefits my overall goal of maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle which includes doing
things like hiking, tennis and working out.
Lisa ~ I play a lot of tennis and yoga is a great balance to all the pounding on the court.

Why did you start practicing yoga?
Mark ~ I started practicing yoga through encouragement that it might help my chronic low back and hip
pain - and it really has!
Lisa ~ My body feels better when I'm consistent with yoga and I'm more mindful of being in the moment.

What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing?
Mark ~ My misconception about yoga is an embarrassing one. I had no interest in doing yoga because
I was one of those guys who thought yoga was something that only women do............. I stand
corrected and my only regret is not doing yoga years ago!
Lisa ~ The biggest misconception I had about yoga was that it was easy and mostly stretching. Boy, was I wrong! Who knew I could sweat that much!:)

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A Yogi Does Lent ~ Lynn Hancock

I grew up Southern Baptist so Lent wasn’t an Easter ritual we really participated in.  And I never really thought of participating in it until I got older and then it was by picking something pretty easy to give up.  Often times, it lasted about a week or so and I pretty much quit after that. 
 
Here’s why this year was different.  Warning, I’m about to be transparent (gasp).  #authentic.  My husband thinks I am too transparent at times – that I need to be more guarded.  But personally, I think that’s where people get in trouble.  When they hide or put on a good face on the outside when things are not going well in the inside.  Now this doesn’t mean that you need to share every single feeling with everyone, but I’m not the type of person to act like I’m okay if I’m not.  So this brings me to the transparent part.  After purchasing the studio in October, my life changed & change often brings extra stress into a person’s life.  I slipped into a habit of having a few beers or glasses of wine at night to help me unwind and de-stress.  No big deal, you say?  The big deal was that this was the main thing what I was relying on to help me manage my stress.  Except that it wasn’t.  I wasn’t sleeping well, I was gaining weight, I was over eating when I drank because it dehydrates you and that can lead to sodium cravings, resulting in eating foods higher in sodium, and making you feel more thirsty, and on and on.  It’s why bars offer pretzels and other salty foods.  So you’ll drink more. 
 
One day, while I was teaching class, I was really encouraging students to focus on their drishti, to not try and escape an intense pose and retrain your brain to breathe through the intensity and maintain their focus.  And that’s when I realized.  I was being a big, fat, boozy hypocrite.  Was I not using alcohol to help me escape the extra intensity and stress my life change had introduced into my life?  Using it to help me fall asleep (only to be woken up around 2 or 3 a.m. once my blood sugar went down and my liver was processing the alcohol).  Here I was telling my students to “just breathe” and I couldn’t do that myself. 

Julie, our account manager, wrote a blog a few months ago called Dry January and I thought well, if Julie can do it (and has been maintaining it, claiming she feels great), then why can’t I?  So I set off on my own dry month…Dry March.  It just so happened to coincide with Lent, so I stretched out Dry March into a spiritual focus.  After all, isn’t that what yoga is about?  Helping us clear out our own mental, emotional and physical baggage so we can have a better spiritual connection to the Divine?

I kept a calendar because I like data.  And I like checking things off.  The first week was hard.  It was about breaking habits more than really wanting a beer or a glass of wine.  It was trying to tell my body that it shouldn’t do something it was used to doing.  But I discovered something.  I really liked carbonation vs. really liking the taste of beer.  So several cases of La Croix replaced cases of beer.  I slept better.  I didn’t stay up as late and I didn’t wake up as frequently.  I recovered better between runs (I am marathon training).  I drank more water.  We saved more money (alcohol is expensive yo!).  Each week got a little bit easier but some were harder than others.  I felt lighter, did my yogi nidra more often to help me fall asleep easier vs. having a drink.  I prayed a bit more often, though not as often as I should have. 

Lent came to a close this past Saturday and so did my fasting.  I had some mimosas at Easter brunch.  But that was it.  Nothing at bedtime and I don’t plan on it for tonight either.  I don’t plan on going back to where I was before.  I know that I have tools in my toolbox that I can use outside of my yoga practice and I plan on using them.  I didn’t experience any breakthroughs or having any spiritual epiphanies but I recognize that life change doesn’t happen in big thunderous claps of change.  Instead in happens in small concentrated breaths.  And in one prayer at a time.  

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Yogi of the Month ~ George Spear

How long have been practicing?

I have been practicing since approximately December of 2013

What’s your favorite pose and why?

I like “Chair” pose and variations of it like “revolved” when we twist left or twist right while in chair.  o Chair pose makes me feel “grounded” and I can truly feel the impact of stretching to places that are not typically reached in a more cardio based regimen.

In 10 words or less describe why you love yoga.

I love Yoga because its peaceful, calming, challenging, reduces stress, and provides flexibility and strength.

How does your yoga practice benefit your other passions & hobbies?

My Yoga practice benefits my other passions and hobbies because it complements
yet reinforces those passions. My other interests and hobbies include family time & events, running, music, singing, and other types of exercise like biking. I have found that the physical and mental balance that yoga provides helps me with those activities by reducing stress and keeping me strong.

Why did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing Yoga because after 13-14 years of running (9 marathons, many half marathons, and some back surgery, too), I had to find better balance, core strength, and flexibility. I also needed to find even more life balance.  I found Yoga Story because my two oldest daughters had danced ballet for over a decade and had been to Yoga Story and encouraged me to try it.

How does yoga impact your everyday life?

Yoga impacts my everyday life because 1st I have met great people at YS and that’s affected me in a positive way each day. Then, in addition, my everyday life has been impacted because the Yoga classes and workshops have help shaped a completely new regimen for me to build core strength and flexibility, both mentally and physically.

What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing?

I don’t think the general population, especially people who have recreationally played traditional sports like football, basketball, & baseball, truly understand how physically strenuous Yoga is. I still remember the 1st few months of being in Lynn’s classes and because of my lack of flexibility and core strength, I thought I’d never make it through the 1st 15 minutes of class, let alone be able to pull off the Bow pose.

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Teacher Feature ~ Judy Moss

Judy teaches Hot Flow every Friday 6 am.

Favorite pose and why?   Savasana at the end of practice.  It's a chance for my body to absorb the practice I just did and allows my mind to settle and become centered. 

First introduced to yoga?  I went to a Bikram yoga class in San Francisco with a friend because I was looking for a good cross training program. It was only after moving back to AR that I went to a vinyasa class and fell in love with the practice of yoga and all that it is.  

10 words or less on why I love yoga?  It's a constant living, breathing practice of balancing the mind and body.

How does my practice make me stronger?  It makes me stronger by keeping me grounded in my center.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?  Meditation is a big part of my life along with taking time to care for myself.  My family also keeps my feet on the ground and we spend most of our time together. 

Advice to beginner yogi?  There is absolutely NO such thing as being bad at yoga.  The only thing that yoga requires is that you show up for yourself. Yoga is for EVERYbody. That's it...there is no "type" and you don't have to be flexible to begin yoga. 

Mantra or intention?  Be here in this moment and honor the body

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?  How much goes into bringing a class together.  It's a balance to make the class both accessible and challenging while holding space for the practitioners. 

One healthy food I swear by and why?  Smoothies.  It's easy to throw in fruit/vegetables and protein without having a heavy meal.

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Teacher Feature ~ Rachel Malo

Rachel teaches Restorative yoga Monday/Friday 11:45, Athletic Roll Wednesday's 11:15.  Her next workshop Roll and Restore Part 2 is March 26th.  

Favorite pose and why?

One legged Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapostasana).  This is the pose that brings opening and balance to my lower back and hips.

First introduced to yoga?

A friend suggested I try it.  I was hooked from the very first class.

10 words or less on why I love yoga?

Yoga is the pathway to greater strength, flexibility, and focus.

How does my practice make me stronger?

Nothing else quite compares to what you get back from doing yoga.  Yoga builds confidence and trust in one’s body.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?

I get out in nature every chance I get.

Advice to beginner yogi?

Keep practicing and try as many styles of yoga as you can.  Then you will find what suits your needs and wants.  Some days you want a sweaty vinyasa, and other days you need a restorative class.

Mantra or intention?

“Uplift”. My intention is that in my class you feel supported and cared for.

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?

That you have to be so serious and formal.  I’m an anatomy geek, and I am series about that, but I love to crack jokes and see you smile too!

One healthy food I swear by and why?

Organic spinach.  It is a power house of nutrition and energy!

Yogi of the Month ~ Maddie Hernandez

How long have you been practicing? I’m coming up on one year in April.

What’s your favorite pose and why? Just about anything that opens up my shoulders and releases my neck. I’m a big fan of bow pose in practice, and will find myself in reverse prayer or cow face pose multiple times during each workday.

In 10 words or less describe why you love yoga:  Physical change came with fitness. Emotional and physical change came with yoga.

Why did you start practicing yoga? To take a break from running after the Half Marathon….and yoga outfits were cute. My friends always talked about it, but to me standing around on one foot wasn’t going to workout me out like trail running for an hour… I was wrong ya’ll.

How does yoga impact your everyday life? I feel better. I’ve struggled my whole life with anxiety and depression and this last year, the weight of the world has felt a little lighter, and I’ve learned to let go and be present - even if it’s just for the hour I’m in class - I’m just there, on my mat, for me.  

What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing? Flexibility and Judgement. 100%! - Yoga isn’t about flexibility, although it can come with the practice. It’s about loving and respecting what your body can do, and challenging it just a little bit further each time. JUDGEMENT- I can not express this enough to people - Yoga isn’t full of eyes looking at what you can and cannot do. No one is there to impress you or expecting to be unimpressed by you. If anything walk in as a beginner and embrace it. Everyone starts somewhere and the most impressive thing you can do is to start.





Watching a Dream Unfold: Yoga Teacher Training ~ Judy Moss

Life…
It’s a funny thing sometimes, isn’t it?

This weekend was the fourth weekend of Yoga Teacher Training. That’s right folks, it has finally happened. What I have been chasing for two years has finally become a reality for me. I knew from that first yoga class that this is what I am meant to do. This is where my heart thrives and I want to pour all that I have into becoming who I am, authentically.


That’s sometimes a hard thing for us to figure out. Life has a way of getting so busy and cluttered that we slowly begin living reactionary lives trying to just get by rather than intentionally making decisions to get where we want to go. Before you know it, we have forgotten all about where it was we were heading.


The truth is that we can always be doing something to get where we want to go be it taking a class, reading material, getting a mentor, etc. You get the idea here. A dream job or a happy life doesn’t just happen to find some people and not others. Whether we want to get down to business and admit that our own decisions lead us to where we are or not doesn’t make a difference. The simple truth is that we decide the path of our lives in the daily decisions we make. That’s not to say that bad things don’t happen, but when they do, how are we going to handle them? I think that is where who we are at the core shines...during those hard times.


One of the best things you can do for yourself is to find your passion and be fiercely protective of it. In doing that, you have to nurture it and share it with only those that will aide you in bringing it to life. That is the exact reason I chose to do my yoga teacher training with Yoga Story. There are training programs all over and numerous online schools that will get you certified, but when you are following your dream, you don’t go through a program with just anyone.


I knew without a doubt that Yoga Story would hold me to the highest of standards and offer only their best in educating me to become a part of the yoga community. That’s the thing about them, they are not just a studio or a school, they are a community; a network of genuine love and support for their students and teachers.


Has it been easy? Ha… Absolutely NOT!!!
Has it been worth it? You better believe it!! ????


We are now four weeks into training and I have met some amazing people and made wonderful, lasting friendships. A common interest brought us all together, but Yoga Story is making us part of a community. Who knows where we will all end up after training is over, but one thing is certain…


I will forever be grateful to Yoga Story for their integrity and dedication to offering nothing less than their best in this program.

What I know for sure is that you have to absorb the joy in pursuing a passion. It may no come fast and it probably won't come easy, but it will come if you keep reaching for it. Go out and grab the life of your dreams!!! What are you waiting for?

Namaste

Teacher Feature ~ Kelsi Zahl

Favorite pose and why?

Natarajasana, Dancers Pose
I love being in this expression. The asana feels all expansive in every direction, it is the perfection of physics.  We ground down to lift up, we press back to move forward. The story behind the posture speaks to my soul: with the light of knowledge, the yogi dancer dances on the head of the serpent, ignorance, the heart of all suffering. With the knowledge of the earth and my own strength, I can keep lifting my heart towards heaven. With the past placed behind me with the light of awareness, I can move, with the heart first, forward; and whilst all of this transpires, I can fill the present moment with beauty.

First introduced to yoga?

My sister-friend Juli took me to a yoga class one day and after that one experience with the dear Alex Austin, I did yoga every day, some days I would do it twice. At first I was addicted to how it made me feel, but then, I realized that it helped my brain. Sri P. K. Jois says that yoga can cure mental illness of all sorts. This has been my experience. Yoga paired with service (seva) has continued to keep me off the slippery slope of addiction and eating disorder for over 12 years, two things which landed me in the hospital in my youth. As long as I show up with the willingness to practice, I am graced with freedom.

And it is this freedom, moksa, that lights my heart of fire. Yoga, in its full form, makes me strong because it allows me to say yes and no in life, instead of being a slave to my own selfish intent and that of the world.

How does your practice make you stronger?

It keeps me in balance. As one who rides the line of too much and too little, it is a true victory for me to ride the middle ground and find some kind of ease.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?

By practicing asana at home and I have a rather religious morning ritual of 3 pages of stream of consciousness followed by meditation.

Advice to beginner yogi?

Have fun. If you are old to yoga, have fun.

Mantra or intention?

It’s not about getting there, its about being here.

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?

They are avatars.

One healthy food I swear by and why?

Almond Butter. High alkaline, filling and good for the skin. Anti-cancer


Yogi of the Month ~ DJ Talbot

How long have you been practicing?
I started yoga in September 2016 but didn’t regularly start going until the following November.

What’s your favorite pose and why?
I would definitely say the headstand. When I first saw the pose in Todd’s Explore Yoga class, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It challenges me every day as I try to perfect it and maintain for longer periods of time.

In 10 words or less describe why you love yoga?
It gives me a challenge as well as self-confidence.

How does your yoga practice benefit your other passions/ hobbies?
I like to run, play soccer and be a part of my high school drum-line which all require me to be in shape. Yoga does not only keep me in shape but also prevents and relieves injuries I receive.    

Why did you start practicing yoga?
My mom always encouraged me to go to yoga with her and always said it would be a good thing for me. I guess one day I finally decided to go and I slowly started to fall in love with yoga.

How does yoga impact your everyday life?
It makes me more confident in myself as I find my limits within my practice. The more poses I discover I can do makes me realize how remarkable we are as humans.

What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing?
I always was scared to go to yoga because for some reason I thought it was a judgmental community and that I would not enjoy it. The more and more I go, I soon realize how wrong I was. All of the instructors and people are all extremely friendly and compassionate. It makes me grateful to be a part of this yoga community and eager to practice more at Yoga Story!

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