Teacher Feature ~ Meet Courtney Sturm!

When were you first introduced to yoga, and what got you hooked?

-I was introduced to yoga in New York City in 2007. A few friends talked me into going to a donation based studio called yoga to the people. I wasn't expecting to like it, honestly I had no clue that it was anything more than stretching. I remember how transformed I felt physically after only one hour of moving and breathing, So I kept going back to simply get in shape. After a few classes the benefits started to manifest in my emotional and mental life and It got me through my toughest days. I quickly realized that it was a practice that I needed in my life.

 

What made you decide to become a yoga instructor?

- I had been bartending in New York and chasing my dreams of becoming an actress! I wasn't really taking care of myself like I should. I was definitely living it up in the big city in my 20's and I realized that I needed direction. I wanted to have a job that I loved and that I felt was rewarding. I wanted to help others feel good!  My best friend started teaching and I saw her personal growth and how happy teaching made her and it inspired me to take the leap.

 

What's your favorite pose?

-Arhda chandrasana (balancing half moon) I rarely teach a class without it! Its got all the goods! Opening, expansiveness, grounding, balance and its accessible.

 

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio? What does your personal practice look like these days?

- Well that's really where the yoga begins. I feel like my practice is a reflection of my daily self. Sometimes its all over the place and sometimes its grounded. I try to breath and remind myself of things i'm grateful for. Being in nature doesn't hurt, maybe with a glass of wine!  Since moving from NYC in December my personal practice has changed. I haven't had the opportunity to get into class as much, which means I've been practicing at home. Hello, self discipline!  My Practice has become less about the perfect body or perfect pose but rather letting go of the ego while practicing self love and patience from where I am today.

 

What advice do you have for the beginner yogi, other than only focus on yourself?

-Dont worry about the outcome!! Be present with your personal journey. Let go of any expectations. As long as you're breathing its enough.

 

In your opinion, what's the biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?

- In my opinion a lot of people think that yoga teachers are health nuts and live a really clean life. While that can be true its not always the case! I also think some underestimate how challenging it is to teach a yoga class and all work that goes into it! Between sequencing, cueing and holding space with confidence its not an easy gig.

 

One healthy food you swear by, and why?

 

- AVOCADO! I try and eat one a day. They are full of vitamins and leave you feeling satisfied and energized!


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Yogi of the Month ~ Melinda Wilkie

How long have you been practicing?  

I've been practicing 2.5 years

Any advice on how to make time for practice with a busy work/family schedule? 

I think we all make time for the things that are important to us. Practicing yoga helps me find balance with my family life & work life.

Describe your yoga practice in one word: 

Happy! 
Practicing yoga makes me happy! 
Sorry that's 5 words. 

Why did you start practicing yoga? 

I started running last year and yoga definitely helps me stay stretched and flexible.  My friends invited me to a yoga class. I was intimidated at first but quickly realized that everyone's practice is different and nobody judges anyone. I was hooked!

How does yoga impact your everyday life?  

Yoga has helped me relieve stress, helped me be more patient, it's helped me with strength, balance, confidence and self love. 

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

That yoga is easy. Boy was I wrong. 


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5 Things Your Yoga Teacher Secretly Wants You To Know

1.  You don't have to be "good enough" to do yoga.

There is no level of competency that you have to be at to start yoga.  Pick the class that's best for your current level of physical fitness and just do it!  If you're a beginner, go to a beginner's class!

2. Ask us questions!

We are here to help and would rather you ask us all your questions than you feel lost at a class or in a studio - alignment, etiquette, dress, mats, whatever you need - ask!  Just ask at an appropriate time ;)  Not during savasana! 

3. We understand that sometimes you need to leave early, but seriously, savasana IS the best part!

It really is.  It's the part where you work on the mind and clearing out our mental "junk."  So try not to skip that part if you can!  If you need to leave early, leave before everyone gets savasana - there's nothing worse than someone disrupting everyone else's peace at the end of class. 

4. There is NO "full expression" of the pose

Poses are as unique as individual bodies are.  The variation of the pose that is safest for your body IS your full expression of the pose. Listen to the cues of your teacher, we want you to practice safely for your body. And most of what you see on Instagram isn't safe....

5. Make friends with & be mindful of your neighbor!

One of the best parts about going to a studio is making new friends! Don't be afraid to say hello and start a conversation - unless your studio encourages silence before class (Yoga Story encourages community).  Connection to others is a big piece of a yoga practice! This also means that if class is getting full, make room for your neighbors, be mindful of cologne/perfume/body odor (especially in a hot class) & don't be afraid to be close to each other! It's good energy :)

 


Three Things You Need to Know About "Calorie Burn" and Yoga

I get asked a lot of questions about Yoga - especially as it pertains to the physical body.  Since asana (the physical postures) is directly related to the physical body one of the top questions I get asked is...."How many calories will I burn???"

The traditional yoga teacher would shake their heads and tell you that yoga should not be reduced to exercise and probably make you feel guilty for daring to ask such a superficial question of such a spiritual and ancient practice.  Well, I'm not one of those teachers....so here's the real answer!

1) Calorie burn varies greatly from person to person.  What you burn in one class will be very different than what the person next to you burns based on a few variables - age, weight, gender, level of physical fitness (how hard your heart has to work) and current ability to effort (e.g., I often burn more calories when my body is tired, not a good thing!).  Your body will also burn calories at a different rate for cardiovascular heavy activities (such as running) vs. resistance and strength style activities (such as body weight or lifting workouts) - both have great benefits!  Using a heart rate monitor helps you determine your specific calorie burn for exercise.  So all those Instagram pics of people's calorie burn in different types of exercise classes - doesn't mean anything as it pertains to you.

2) The more efficient your body becomes at a certain type of exercise, the fewer calories it will burn doing that type of exercise.  This is a good thing! Your body responds to the healthy stress of exercise and gets stronger!  

3) A lot of times, we want to know our calorie burn because of weight management.  It's not always best to have huge calorie burns (again, this varies on the person) - let me explain!  Your body needs a certain number of calories to function each day - to respirate, digest, pump your blood, basically to survive.  Let's say this number is 1300 calories a day.  That means you need to eat 1300 calories a day.  Let's say you burn 700 calories doing specific exercise.  If you are trying to lose weight, you'll need to eat back at least a portion of these calories so your body can perform the functions it needs to perform.  However, if you burn 700 calories, your body will signal to you that you just did some major work and you need to eat!  Runners call this the "rungries." So, if your goal is weight management, it's can be more helpful to burn a smaller amount of calories and focus more on proper nutrition and the right calorie INtake for your body.  

Weight management is more than just calories in and calories out.  The level of stress, your ability to cope with stress, quality of sleep and quality of nutrition has a big hand in a person's health and yoga has been found to help with many of these things! But I will leave you with this - your health is so much more than your weight. You are so much more than your weight.  Weight has only a small slice of the health picture, and it will not be your lasting legacy. Your tombstone will not read, "Here lies Jane. She finally got rid of those extra pounds."


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Yogi's of the Month ~ Alice Torvinen & Aaron Rogers

We love Rock Solid Trails and the great work they are doing to improve our trail system in Northwest Arkansas.  And we especially love that they practice with us!  Meet Alice and Aaron!

 

 

How long have you been practicing?  Alice ~ 9 years

Aaron ~ I started practicing Yoga back in the end of November 2017.
 

Any advice on how to make time for practice with a busy work/family schedule? Alice ~ bring your favorite aspects of yoga into you daily routines (even if they are small!) - pause to notice your breath, change your passwords to your favorite mantras, break into your favorite poses while filling your car up with gas!

Aaron ~ Practicing Yoga seems essential for helping to create that work/life balance.  Having an hour for yourself a few times a week seems worth the time especially when you can make Yoga whatever you need it to be for your own personal wellness.  

Describe your yoga practice in one or two word: Alice ~ lovely struggle

Aaron ~ Empowering 

How does your yoga practice benefit your other passions/hobbies? Alice ~ My practice creates space -- it creates time, patience, space to move in my own body, as well as space for others -- all of these things encourage me to continue to learn and expand my interests!

Aaron ~ Yoga benefits my active outdoor lifestyle by providing a time to stretch and work on flexibility along with strengthening muscles not used in many activities.  It also provides a physical outlet on days where the conditions are not ideal for getting outside.  

Why did you start practicing yoga? Alice ~ Just trying to be the best hippie I could be ;) 

Aaron ~ I started practicing yoga to work on flexibility and range of motion issues. Repeated injuries from extreme sports such as Mountain Biking, Snowboarding/ Skiing and years of manual labor jobs has had an impact on my body.  I had wanted to start a consistent Yoga practice for years which was made easy when I joined the Yoga Story!

How does yoga impact your everyday life? Alice ~ It grounds me in a humbling yet inspiring way!

Aaron ~ Yoga truly is whatever you need it to be.  Some days you can test your strength and balance. Other days you can lightly stretch and relax making it more of a meditative exercise.  Having those options and incorporating in with other activities seems to create a good balance.

What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing? Alice ~ No body actually cares what you look like while practicing! So you can pretty much do anything you want -- so go ahead and test the limits of this, not only is it freeing but can also be pretty entertaining! 

Aaron ~ The biggest misconception I had was how physically challenging Yoga could be if you push yourself.  Picking up Yoga definitely has made random activities not done regularly such as skiing, skating or anything else that requires balance much easier.  


Teacher Feature ~ Ginger Davidson

Ginger teaches Tuesday 4:30 Warm Flow and Tuesday 5:45 Meditative Flow at the Down Dog.

 

When were you first introduced to yoga, and what got you hooked?

I was first introduced to yoga at the tender age of 23, in Lawrence Kansas.  I hated it.   I had asthma as a child and couldn’t understand how to breathe properly.   I got hooked at 25 thru a YMCA yoga class.

What made you decide to become a yoga instructor?

I wanted to share the gift with others so they could transform their own lives and live with more peace.

What's your favorite pose?

Reclined bound angle is my favorite restorative pose—reminds me to ground to the Earth and keep my heart open.

How do you remain grounded outside of the yoga studio? 

Outside the studio nature grounds me.   If I am anxious a few minutes outside can make all the difference.  

What does your personal practice look like these days?

My personal practice these days is a little like my current season of life, up and down.    I do maintain a consistent meditation practice if I am unable to get asana in that day.   It’s a simple 5-10 minutes before I move from my bed each morning.  

What advice do you have for beginner yogi's, other than only focus on yourself?

I would tell beginners to not rush to the process.   Trust your breath to do the work and build a good solid foundation just as you would a house, and that doesn’t happen in a short amount of time.  We as a world are so rushed and Yoga and its work helps us to remember that it takes time to build something that will last.

In your opinion, what's the biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?

The biggest misconception is that there is a certain Type of person that teaches yoga. 

One healthy food you swear by and why?

Apples.   They are full of fiber and help your sweet tooth.  (also good in a pinch if you are tired


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Yogi of the Month ~ Helena Pittman

How long have you been practicing?   

3 weeks

Any advice on how to make time for practice with a busy work/family schedule? 

I’m retired so it helps. Yoga is a part of my schedule now.

Describe your yoga practice in one word: Novice

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

Relieves pain in shoulder, better sleep (compared to no sleep for 30 years!)

Why did you start practicing yoga? 

My daughter’s enthusiasm inspired me to take it up.  She made me feel I could participate because of the many ages, body types, & physical abilities she sees on a daily basis. And she was right!

How does yoga impact your everyday life?

I’m surprised and inspired by taking on this new endeavor, meaning that other activities I didn’t think I could do I might be willing to try now.

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

I didn’t know what yoga was beyond all the complicated poses shown on social media, or why anyone would want to do them in the first place. It’s so much more! You don’t have to look a certain way or be a certain age to do it-anyone can do yoga!  Just do what you can and breathe! And you don’t have to wear a bikini ;)


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Teacher Feature ~ Sharlotte Fedewa

Sharlotte teaches every Friday morning 6 am Sunrise Flow.  Keep an eye on the schedule for her Kid's and Toddler yoga classes.

 

When were you first introduced to yoga, and what got you hooked?

I was first introduced to yoga in my college dorm. My new friends and I went to a class together. They liked it but I loved it. I fell in love with the way yoga made me feel. I started to consistently go to yoga classes. Sometimes I would go twice a day. 

What made you decide to become a yoga instructor?

I wanted to go over seas and I wanted to get away from school because I didn’t feel passionate about my studies. I quit school after I became an instructor and don’t regret it. 

What’s your favorite pose?

Triangle— it’s nuanced. I like showing people how to lift their torso up, so their abs start to burn.  

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio? 

When I feel overwhelmed I take really slow breaths and remind myself life doesn’t have to be so serious. 

What does your personal practice look like these days? 

I am a mom, so I don’t have much time for myself. I try to practice as I go through my day. Sometimes, I get to go to yoga classes. I do the Ashtanga primary series at home when I can. I have to remind myself to not get down on myself because my practice is not consistent. It will get better once the kids get a little older! Letting go is yoga, right? 

What advice do you have for the beginner yogi, other than only focus on yourself? 

If you feel like you can’t sit still you probably need meditation or restorative yoga more than a power yoga class. Balancing out your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system can help you lose weight because you let go of unnecessary mind stuff, make quicker logical choices and create space for good thoughts. Fast yoga doesn’t always = lose weight.  

In your opinion what the biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?  

Yoga instructors get to “do” yoga all the time. No, we get to “demonstrate” all the time, which is way different. It’s hard to link your breath with movement when you’re telling people link their breath with movement. Sometime you can get so caught up in teaching that you forget your practice. 

One healthy food you swear by, and why? 

Are garlic stuffed olive healthy? So satisfying. 

 


Yogi of the Month ~ Kari VonStrohe

How long have you been practicing?   ~4-5 years

Any advice on how to make time for practice with a busy work/family schedule?  

I feel so much better when yoga is a part of my regular routine – both physically and mentally.  That definitely helps me prioritize yoga classes.  And there are so many different classes offered at Yoga Story throughout the day that it makes it easy to integrate it into my schedule.

Describe your yoga practice in one word:  Can I have 2 words??  Stress Relief

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

I run regularly and practicing yoga has helped me to manage my breathing during long runs, as well as make me stronger overall.  Since starting at Yoga Story, I’ve been able to consistently increase my speed and distance.  

Why did you start practicing yoga?  

I was looking for an alternative to running & weight lifting and decided to try yoga.  I was hooked instantly and saw more changes in my body faster than any other workout I’d tried before.   

How does yoga impact your everyday life?  

Yoga has helped me to better manage my breathing – especially in stressful situations – and has helped me to focus more on myself & my journey than where I am in comparison to others.

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

Before I started practicing, I thought of yoga as stretching & meditation.  It does provide that benefit, but so much more! I’ve become stronger, pushed myself beyond what I thought I could do and have found a local community in Yoga Story. 


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Teacher Feature ~ Erin Hulliberger

Favorite pose and why?

Dancer (Natarajasana). I love the combination of balance, strength, flexibility and meditation it takes to get to a full expression… and how amazing I feel when I do.

First introduced to yoga?

I found yoga as a way to build strength and flexibility while marathon training in my early 20s. I never looked back.

10 words or less on why I love yoga?

Yoga is my reset button. It both reenergizes and grounds me.   

How does my practice make me stronger?

Yoga strengthens my mind more than anything. It trains me to be present in the moment – not focused on what has been or what is to be.

How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio?

I take 15 minutes of quiet time every day to meditate and pray.

Advice to beginner yogi?

Keep trying! Everyone was new once, and even experienced yogis fight for certain poses. The struggle is the journey.

Mantra or intention?

My favorite intention is “Growth and comfort do not coexist.” I have found it to be true both on and off the mat, physically and mentally.

Biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor?

That you are really, really flexible! My hamstrings are like guitar strings!

One healthy food I swear by and why?

Eggs. There are endless ways to eat them, and with lots of protein and good, healthy fats, they always fill me up.

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