Yogi of the Month ~ Katie Dennis

How long have you been practicing? About 4 years



What’s your favorite pose and why? I enjoy dancer because it is so beautiful and graceful (if I can hold it J)



In 10 words or less describe why you love yoga: Yoga brings me peace, clarity and it cleanses me.



How does your yoga practice benefit your other passions/hobbies? When I practice yoga, it makes me happy. The happiness flows into the next day. When I am happy, I take part in more of my hobbies with more joy and passion.



Why did you start practicing yoga? I initially started to tone, now I practice for a multitude of reasons. I believe God blessed me with a strong and capable body and I should use it and strengthen it every chance I get.



How does yoga impact your everyday life? Yoga helps me to deal with my anxiety- it is better than anything a doctor can prescribe. It is truly one of my most helpful outlets or resources for stress and helps me exercise an intentional focus which I can use outside of the studio.



What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing? I thought it might just be all about stretching, not so much of a work out. That changed quickly with my first heated class. Not only is every class challenging, but it tests your mind to focus.

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Teacher Feature ~ Anne Suarez

Anne teaches Hot Flow Monday 7:45 am, Not So Hot Flow Monday 9:00 am, Warm Flow Tuesday 11:45 am, and The Zen Hour Wednesday 11:45 am.

Favorite pose and why:  Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby Pose- because it evokes bliss and joy.  It is also a great way to lengthen the spine, open the chest, shoulders and stretch the inner groin, thighs and hamstrings. 

First introduced to yoga:  On a vacation to Colorado I decided to try yoga to help my flexibility (I was an avid runner). 

10 words or less on why I love yoga:  Yoga helps me connect my breath, mind, body and spirit. 

How does my practice make me stronger:  It has helped me develop mental focus, stamina and physical strength.  

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio: 

I love spending time with family, friends and my Westie, Lucky.   I try and stay open to possibility and learning.  

Advice to beginner yogi: Your body and yoga is a journey unique to you- to be explored with loving kindness.  

Mantra or intention: “Peace begins with a smile”.  Mother Teresa

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor: is that we have it all together- the yoga of daily life is ongoing and involves energy.  

One healthy food I swear by and why:  coconut water because it helps me stay hydrated. 

 

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Living Your Dreams by Judy Moss

When you wake up every single day with the realization that you know exactly what it is that your heart is telling you to do, you have found a gift that not everyone unwraps in their lifetime. Read More

Nina White ~ A Story of Encouragement

Watch Nina's inspirational video about her health journey and the difference yoga can make.

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Teacher Feature ~ Greg Johnson

Greg teaches Hot Flow every Wednesday 5:15 am.

Favorite pose and why? 
Inversions - they help relieve pain in my back.

First introduced to yoga?  My wife had been a yogi for a few years and always invited me to go with her. I finally gave in when I got a running injury.  Been hooked since the first time!

10 words or less on why I love yoga?  Makes me mentally stronger by focusing on breath and drishti.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?  I run and have a personal practice I try to stick to at home.

Advice to a beginner yogi?  Breathe and don't worry about what everybody else is doing.  Focus on what you can control on your mat.

Mantra or intention?  I get to decide what I see in the mirror!

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor? That we know everything and we're all hippies.

One healthy food I swear by and why? Apples, replace that mid-afternoon snack with an apple and it will fill you up for hours.

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Yogi of the Month ~ Veronica Cotton

I started a weight loss journey in November 2015 and I was at the point of needing a new workout.  I was 65 lbs down and I needed a new challenge.  I starting practicing yoga May 15, 2016, and my first class was Yoga Body Boost.  I had been noticing a difference in a friend that was taking the Yoga Body Boost class twice a week, so I thought I would give it a try.  I discovered not only did I have a good workout in such a short amount of time, but I felt good and my body didn't hurt so bad the next day. I could actually get up and move!

I was very scared to try yoga at first, the noises my body was already making were terrifying enough. Just imagining being in a heated, enclosed room, bent over and squishing my overweight body into a little ball...it's going to make a noise or two!  This to me was horrific, but I knew I needed to continue my weight loss journey and yoga could be what I needed to help get my muscle tone and balance back. So I grabbed a pair of Spanks to suck in the extra fat and proceeded to commit to the 30 day challenge. After 30 days of classes, well maybe just 17-20 days, I saw a huge improvement, not only with my balance and weight loss, but with my muscle tone as well.  In that short time, my percentage of muscle weight went up 2 percent thanks to Yoga Body Boost classes.

My favorite pose is Wheel (back bend) and I will never forget the day I thought "Hey, I can do this!" and whoa, I was up and down quickly before I knew it.  So the second time around, I was up, with some assistance and wow, I was holding myself up for 5 yoga breaths, which everyone knows is longer than a century!

I really thought after my 30 days was up, I would really not care to do yoga anymore.  But oh how was I wrong.  The way my body, mind and soul felt after class was amazing.  The challenges and fears I faced in each class got easier and harder at the same time.  It's the first time that I ever took a class and only thought about me for an hour.

By just taking this time for me, I learn more and more about what my body and mind can overcome. The challenges of the poses and strength it takes to hold them in class, translates into everyday life and helps me to learn how to feed my soul correctly.  I have more confidence and peace of mind all at the same time.

Currently I am a total of 127 pounds down from November 6, 2015.  So yes, yoga is a big part of my life now.


Yogi of the Month ~ Hank Hecksher

I read somewhere that you are ultimately defined by 4 things:  how you face change, how you move through adversity, how you celebrate and how you give back.

How long have you been practicing?

On and off for a long time.  I remember meditation and yoga poses from high school in Miami Oklahoma (Go Wardogs! Class of '73)

What's your favorite pose and why?

Favorite pose is "Wheel" because I can't do it.  I used to, but can't now - I'm getting lots of help and encouragement.

In 10 words or less describe why you love yoga:

Intentionally accomplishing greater actions under duress - (we are meant to grow and yoga is the gentle surface of resistance begging us to try more.)

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

I'm a golfer and yoga helps me with flexibility and concentration.

Why did you start practicing yoga?

I started because I was curious.  I thought it was cool (hippie) - now I'm working through a recent realization that there is real energy (thank you).

How does yoga impact your everyday life?

Yoga helps me appreciate and be thankful for what I have and to remember that all things are precious.

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

Yoga does "poses" but the purpose (of yoga and everything) is to be engaged and active with what's around you, realize there will be challenges (work through them), and always be true to yourself.



Teacher Feature ~ Arlen Goodyear

Arlen teaches Hot Flow Saturday's 7:45 am and Sunday's 10:15 am.

Favorite pose and why?   
Child's pose--so many benefits to this pose.  Tuning into the breath, disconnecting from the world, stretching and lengthening the arms and spine, hips opening and melting to the Earth.

First introduced to yoga? 
2 years ago.  Having lower back issues since I was 10, all my research pointed to yoga for release of tight muscles.  Intimidated by a female dominated exercise, I attended my first class in Des Moines, Iowa, and to much surprise, almost half the class were men.  I instantly became addicted.

10 words or less on why I love yoga?  
The escape from personal life and work -- just BE.

How does my practice make me stronger?   Mentally and physically--the breath is a powerful tool that we often forget about.  With yoga, I connect the breath to movement....something I can take with me outside of class with life.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?  I surround myself with good people--no drama.  If I want drama, I watch reality television.  Also my dog helps keep me grounded--he insists that belly rubs provide a well-grounded life for me.

Advice to beginner yogi's?  Pushing yourself at the beginning will get you burnt out.  Do what you can--with what you have--everybody is different. 

Mantra or intention?  Everything happens for a reason.  Just believe!

Biggest misconception about being a yoga teacher?  We aren't all gymnasts with extreme flexibility.  We do not perfect every pose we teach...we are also learners ourselves.

One healthy food I swear by and why?  Avocados--you can put them on/in anything.  "Nutrient booster" that has a subtle flavor.

Teacher Feature ~ Heidi Kaurin-Smith

Heidi teaches Begin every Wednesday night at 7 pm.

Favorite pose and why?
Child's pose with a block under the heart.  It immediately reduces stress as an act of surrender.

First introduced to yoga?
After the birth of my twins, yoga helped strengthen my abs and low back, helping me recover from pregnancy and carrying around two growing babies.

10 words or less on why you love yoga?
It creates a strong connection between mind and body.

How does your practice make you stronger?
Through asana my body teaches my mind what is going on in the background of my thinking life.  I can digest my issues while strengthening muscles.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?
Morning quiet time - first thing out of bed.

Advice to beginner yogi?
Everyday! Small commitments over time can show big shifts.

Mantra or intention?
Don't move the way fear makes you move.  Move the way love makes you move.  Move the way joy makes you move.

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?
The have it all together or figured out.

One healthy food you swear by and why?
Eggs - great source of protein

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Yogi of the Month ~ Rachel Ackerman

Confessions of a Reluctant Yogi
by Rachel Kaye Ackerman

I do not have a magical, love-at-first-asana yoga story.  After an hour of intense, shaky postures and stretches, I panted with exhaustion, horizontal at last.  Everyone else seemed blissed out in the final resting pose, savasana, but I failed to catch that vibe.  I was too busy breaking out in hives.

All over my body, angry welts puffed out in protest.  I resisted the urge to scratch and inspect, loathe to disrupt the serenity of the sculpted yogis around me.  If hell is a quiet and motionless place, I had somehow stumbled upon it.  As soon as possible, I snuck away, vowing never to return.  The hives never returned either, dissipating within a few hours.  Whatever triggered them remains a mystery, but my response was unequivocal fear and avoidance.

Flash forward fifteen years and fifteen-plus pounds.  In a stroke of serendipity, my workplace offered lunchtime yoga.  With equal parts hesitance and desperation, I unfurled my mat again.  A sedentary lifestyle had done me no favors; I was as weak and wobbly as ever.  I abhorred boat pose with a venomous passion, and my trees toppled with all the grace of a drunken toddler.  Sweet savasana could not come soon enough.  It didn't take long, however, before the twice-a-week, thirty minute sessions became a refuge from my stress.  The stretching, the exhaustion, and the soothing voice of my instructor took me to a place of deep calm.  Despite my notorious aversion to physical challenge, I kept dragging myself back to the mat~and yoga kept offering compelling reasons to stay and deepen my practice.

Prior to yoga, I noticed my body for primarily negative reasons: pain, discomfort, disgust.  I hoarded tension in my jaw, my shoulders, and my back.  I became a regular at the chiropractor's office.  At times, my neck was so out of whack, I couldn't turn my head to speak to someone in the back seat of a car.  Shielding my knobby knees and freakish toes from public scrutiny, I refused to wear shorts and sandals for years.

These days, my naked toes make regular appearances at Yoga Story, and I appreciate how their extraordinary length roots me to the earth.  I relish feelings that never registered before:  energy coursing through my form, the exquisite release of relaxing muscles, the cleansing detox of dripping sweat.  My spine has grown supple; my chiropractor has become a stranger.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude for a healthy body that still knows how to grow stronger, more flexible, more fluid, and more alive.

Buoyed by yogic meditations on a off the mat, my gratitude even extends to the lesson of those long-ago hives.  As an educator, I know discomfort and challenge serve as powerful learning catalysts~provided one responds with a growth mindset instead of fear.  Before my yoga journey began in earnest, however, I did not apply that understanding to my own flesh.  Now, I live this lesson daily. I am committed to a lifelong yoga practice. Now, at age 43, I am stronger in mind, body, and spirit than ever before.

Namaste.





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