Yogi of the Month ~ Lynette Menna

How long have you been practicing?  I have been practicing yoga regularly for a little over 1 year.


Any advice on how to make time for practice with a busy work/family schedule? I am blessed with a great support system at home and with friends.  I often have a friend, my husband or my daughter join me in class.  I take advantage of the weekend and evening classes and yoga is a priority in my life.  I need it so much to balance my life, that I make sure and attend between 2-4 classes in a week. 


Describe your yoga practice in one word: Essential


Why did you start practicing yoga? Honestly, I was going through a very difficult time in my life and was having difficulty sleeping and suffered from a lot of anxiety.  Yoga story classes have helped me learn so much about myself and taught me how ‘breath’.  It has changed my life for the better!


How does yoga impact your everyday life?  Well, I have great balance standing on one foot now!  I remember to breath more, manage my anxiety and sleep better. My overall quality of life is better when I do yoga.


What misconceptions about yoga, if any, were changed after you started practicing? I thought that I couldn’t do it because I had chronic neck pain.  But the teachers taught me how to listen to my body and build up gradually.  There are so many different levels and classes at Yoga Story that I was able to go at my own pace. A year later, I surprise myself by easily finishing a challenging hot flow class. 


Teacher Feature ~ Bryttney Miller

Join Bryttney every Monday at 5:45 AM for Sunrise Hot Flow, and check out her BUTI Yoga class under events/workshops.


When were you first introduced to yoga, and what got you hooked? I was first introduced to yoga 5 years ago. I went to a restorative class and couldn't believe how hard it was and how great it felt after! I've been practicing ever since. 


What made you decide to become a yoga instructor? It was actually really spur of the moment. I was a babysitter at a studio that was offering a teacher training and I decided to just go for it. Since then I've expanded my certifications and fallen deeper in love with yoga. 


What's your favorite pose? Warrior 2! It's very empowering.


How do you remain grounded outside the yoga studio? What does your personal practice look like these days? I try to be outside as much as I can. I spend a good portion of most days inside, so it helps to go somewhere open to just breathe and feel more relaxed. My personal practice is 10 or so minutes scattered throughout the day when my little one allows me to pull out my mat. 


What advice do you have for the beginner yogi, other than only focus on yourself? Don't worry about looking cool. Don't worry about being flexible. Yoga is so much deeper than some pretty poses on Instagram. Respect where your body is and accept it. Love it. Then will it further. 


In your opinion, what's the biggest misconception about being a yoga instructor? People assume I'm this super health nut that can do all these crazy poses. 


One healthy food you swear by, and why? Avocados always! They are loaded with vitamins and are high in good fats. I just add some lime juice and a tiny bit of salt and will eat them all day. 


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."


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


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.  


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.


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.


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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