Monthly Archives: September 2015

MY YOGA STORY – BROOKE ASBURY

How did I get here?

It was a rainy, grey morning, as usual come mid-November in Seattle. I was looking out the window from the warmth of my blanket cocoon on the couch, contemplating the 9-mile run I had planned for the morning. I was training for some-such marathon or half marathon, and I had just about reached the end of my self-motivation rope. My “no excuses” policy for my running schedule was just wanting to be broken so badly that morning. Meanwhile, my roommate Amber bounced down the hallway in her yoga gear. “Wanna come to Hot, Steamy Yoga?” She never called it just “Hot Yoga.” Always, “Hot, Steamy Yoga.” Well, the answer in my head was “No,” I had never once in my life even considered that hot yoga thing. It sounded like torture. I could torture myself with running but not heat. She then said, “My aunt did hot, steamy yoga for a month, and she had such a bangin’ bod afterwards. It burns like a thousand calories each class.” SOLD! She said the magic words. Burns calories… approximately equivalent to what I would have burned running 9 miles. It was settled, I would trade in my run for the hot, sweaty yoga class, avoid the rain, and come out even.

I don’t remember that much of the class. I don’t remember it being that difficult or even that hot. I remember the teacher. He was a gentle giant. Robert – salt and pepper hair, tiny spandex shorts and a hairy chest. I still take Robert’s class whenever I’m in Seattle. He has the kindest eyes, the calmest voice, and you just know that he wants you to be at ease – in his studio, in your body, in life. He always knows the new student’s name and always encourages them throughout their first class. Well, anyhow, I made it to final savasana. The heat didn’t do me in, and I didn’t feel that different after class but what left a strong impression on me was the teacher and the other students. I’ll never forget their unwavering focus for 90 minutes of energy and sweat, their forearm veins in final expression of Standing Forehead to Knee, their quiet reverence for the practice as they entered and exited the room. I thought about it later that day, and the day after that, and so on… I found myself back in that unique-smelling, carpeted room the following week. I just HAD to try it again. Maybe someday I could be like those other people.

Ten years later, it still has me. There is just nothing else like it. Like an old friend inviting you in for some tea and a chat. Nothing else like this series can transform my mind from chaos to calm in just 90 minutes. To change my outlook on a problem from frustration to patience. To broaden my perspective. To forgive someone. To see the answer I needed to find. I’ve said this before but I think that all of the important decisions in my life, I’ve made during a Bikram yoga class. Well, that or while running. Sure, my body has been transformed too. For the first year that I practiced, I could not bring my foot up any higher than my calf for tree pose. I can’t really even remember who I was, how I looked before this yoga but I think I can safely say that it has refined every bit of my being “inside out, bones to skin,” and especially my mind and heart.

My teachers at Bikram Yoga Seattle were a constant inspiration. Their practices – so elegant, their teaching – so brilliant, their presence – strong and calm. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be one of them. If I was lucky enough to get to the studio early and have their attention before other students showed up, I would ask them about their Teacher Training. One of them said, “After training, I felt like I could do anything.” I was inspired. Maybe a bit covetous to have that feeling. I would go to the internet and explore the Bikram website and dream of applying for the training. It didn’t seem feasible though. When would I fit it in? How could I afford it? I couldn’t leave my boyfriend for 2 months. Ridiculous thoughts like that.

Well, a boyfriend less later, and a Christmas bonus richer, I found myself applying to a teacher training. It wasn’t the Bikram training that I’d always wanted to do, but it happened to be in this place, Nashville, which I had an irrational dream of moving to.

The training was uneventfully completed (I kept it a secret from my work so there was no announcing of things on Facebook during that time), and I had been slowly dreaming up the idea to open a studio in East Nashville. Though it made no sense to leave a perfectly great life in Seattle, a friend one day told me, “If anyone can do it, you can.” I knew it was true. My yoga had taught me that already. So, here I am.

  • Buti yoga, Ashtanga yoga, Bikram yoga,  Hot yoga,  East Nashville
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    TUNING OUT THE NOISE – MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

TUNING OUT THE NOISE – MINDFULNESS IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD

By Bradley S. Handley

Admit it. You’re addicted. It started innocently enough. Maybe just once at dinner. Sometimes twice, depending on company. Then you lost control. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. It never really mattered, as long as it kept you busy. Even for that extra 30 second wait behind some philistine who somehow had never been to 5 Points Pizza.

I’ll come clean, I’m addicted too. Probably worse than you and have been for a long time. Back in my day, you used to actually open the app to figure out what’s going on. Unthinkable, I realize. Nowadays, apps come to you with whatever trivial minutiae their people think you’ll want to hear about. And we eat it up.

Last week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that, for the first time ever, one billion people used Facebook in a single day. That is to say that about 14% of the world’s population checked in to ol Zuck’s website to do whatever people do on Facebook (in my case, posting a picture of me and my goofy dog on National Dog Day. See above).

In these weird, connected times, we have allowed ourselves to become grossly enamoured in the things happening to other people and wanting those same people to think that interesting things are happening to us. We have forgotten how to enjoy who and what is happening around us. Many of us even routinely endanger ourselves and those around us by using our phones while driving.

I tried a few things to cure myself. I put my phone on silent, and turned off most app notifications. I even locked the infernal distractor in my desk drawer at work. I would relapse, again and again.

A careful perusal of the Yoga Etiquette portion of this website will reveal a crucial element to my ongoing rehabilitation. Specifically, I’m referring to the section that reads, “Do not bring personal items (such as cell phones, purses, keys) into the yoga room other than your mat, towel, and water bottle.” This notion was honestly off-putting to me at first blush. What if work called? What if mom got in an accident? What if a million other things happened that I couldn’t be aware of and respond to at that very moment?

It’s silly, I know, but for the first time since the advent of the smartphone, I was disallowed to bring my digital companion along with me. This separation was a lot different than locking it away in my desk. It is the difference between a mandatory and voluntary surrender.

My digital disconnection, however, has only been the beginning. In yoga, we are taught to not think about our performance in past postures, and to not worry about postures that are forthcoming. This was a difficult proposition and did not come naturally. In addition to those concerns, my brain also enjoys reminding me of everything worrisome in my life.

The trouble is, these things all distract you from concentrating on your breathing. Your breath quickly becomes the most important factor in your practice, and can mean the difference between staying on your feet for the entire session and feeling amazing or spending most of your time in the floor and being miserable.

Once I discovered how to let these unhelpful thoughts fall away, my practice instantly improved. Sure, the occasional looming work deadline or other personal matter sometimes force their way through, but the more I attend class, the better I become at ignoring them.

This focus has begun to trickle into other parts of my life as well. I am able to concentrate at work for longer periods without feeling the need to check whatever phone jiggle or alert is constantly vying for my attention. I have also started turning my phone face-down in social situations (which handily ignores all notifications), allowing me to give my full attention.

It’s an ongoing process, and I still need a lot of work, but the focus I have gained from my practice at Hot Yoga of East Nashville has been amazing and I’m excited to see what other surprising benefits are just around the corner.

By |September 16th, 2015|Uncategorized|1 Comment

MINDFULNESS IN TEACHING

by Brooke Asbury

As teachers of yoga, we have a great responsibility to the lineage, our teachers, our students, and to ourselves. We can never stop learning. We are stewards of a gift, a key that unlocks a treasure much greater than burning calories, gaining flexibility, or posing. Somewhere along our way, in the middle of a yoga class or at the end, in savasana, we developed a fire. We had such a passion for our yoga practice, our lives were so tangibly changed by it, that we wanted to share this experience. So we practiced, studied and gained enough knowledge to teach it to others – a set of physical postures, a breath technique or two, a discipline, a headspace, a body awareness, a worldview. Someone created a space – a yoga studio – and now we show up. To continue our journey and to show this journey to others. Therefore, our studentship is our impact. It was our beginning, it is our present, and it is our future.

The important point here is that we teachers are moving too. We are still growing, still learning, still practicing as students. This yoga journey eventually pervades all areas of our lives, as we become calmer under stress, unwavering when bombarded by distractions, and fiercely determined in the face of obstacles. But at the start (and every day we start again), we just show up. We simply come to our mat and breathe, and move through the postures. Teachers and students together. This is what a yoga community means to us.

It may be our names listed as the teachers for classes, but classes never belong to us. They belong to our students. The yoga studio is not a community without active involvement of both students and teachers. We teachers cannot make it a “good class” without the energy of the students. Likewise, the students will not feel a teacher is present and a part of the same body if the teacher is not also a student. Both students and teachers, alike, inspire one another. Whether it is the day a new student struggles through their first class, or the moment a devoted student conquers that one pose they have been trying to master, they are an inspiration to their teachers, and they make our job worthwhile. The ways they see their life change outside of the classroom is the true reason we do what we do. As teachers, whether we are demonstrating a beautiful dancer’s pose, an intimidating inversion or rather simply resting in child’s pose when we are on our mats, we are an inspiration to students of both the potential for the body and also the foundation of humility and surrender. It is also when we teachers return to our mats, stay through the heat and struggle, are brought to tears again during our camel posture, imagine the cool air on the other side of that door, and then make it through once again, that we remember the real challenge. We sympathize with the day-to-day struggles and breakthroughs on the journey because we were there on our mats, in the exact same place, not last month or last year but just yesterday.

It is very simple. If we are not on the path with our students, why should they listen to our words or follow our light? Why should we listen to, or trust ourselves to show a light we are not using?

So our commitment to this community, as teachers at Hot Yoga of East Nashville, is to be students. To be in the room with our students. To never stop practicing. To be curious. To be inspired. To be a part of the body, moving together. Walking together. Growing together.

By |September 3rd, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments