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LETTERS FROM THE PEOPLE: THIRD INSTALLMENT

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This studio, you, have made such a positive change in my life that I can barely describe in words. I am recovering emotionally and spiritually from 7 failed IVF attempts all ending in miscarriage. I gained 44 lbs due to steroids and hormones through that process. I also lost my sense of self. I felt emotionally and physically barren.

I have tried therapy to work on the grief. I have lamented at the sight of myself in the mirror, mourning my mountain climber and hiker body. This yoga has been my answer.

I find myself smiling more. I find that old swing in my hip when I walk. I find some peace and center. Most of all, my body does not feel barren . I am fully fertile, growing and developing every day of practice. My body is mine again.

You all are doing an amazing job of cheering us on, nurturing us and keeping us coming back!

LETTERS FROM THE PEOPLE – SECOND INSTALLMENT

This past Monday I completed my thirtieth straight day of hot yoga (a mixture of bikram and heated vinyasa). I initially planned to write this blog post that afternoon, but I waited. At first, I was too busy, but then I wanted to think–to contemplate what I had done, what it meant, where I go from here.

I’ve been practicing yoga since February–which is to say I’m still a bit of a newb. And while I have changed since I’ve begun my practice, those changes didn’t really set in until after the 30 days. What’s changed? My body, of course, but it’s so much more than that.
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I’m generally an anxious person. I have an anxiety disorder, and I also suffer from PTSD. Practicing yoga daily has not only helped me manage my anxiety, but it’s helped me recognize it and see it for what it is. In doing that, I’ve been able to acknowledge anxiety-induced self deprecation and move on.

That’s huge.

The largest thing I’ve learned over the past thirty days is self acceptance. Every day is different. Every day I’m different. Being on the mat has helped me come to terms with that. Some days I can hold a standing bow for a full minute. Other days I’m on my back, laid out, unable to even make it through the warm up. And that’s okay. It’s good to acknowledge what my body can and can’t do. The important thing is that I’m there. I’m on my mat. I’m enduring the heat. I’m practicing. I’m not giving up.

It’s discipline. It’s endurance. It’s daily.

Where do I go from here? The obvious answer is that I continue my practice. But I don’t want to stop there. These things that I’ve learned, the intentions I’ve set, the patience I’ve gained, they can go beyond the studio. No. They should go beyond the studio.

My next goal? To apply them to my writing. To accept when my writing sucks. To work through that. To acknowledge it and have gratitude toward myself for trying. To celebrate the days the words flow and I can’t seem to put a cap on my creativity. But most importantly: to practice.

I need writing to be daily (or at least as close to daily as possible) like yoga is. I need it to be a practice, a discipline, a constant. And I need to give myself grace.

Thank you Hot Yoga East Nashville for giving me a space to learn these lessons–on and off the mat.

LETTERS FROM THE PEOPLE – FIRST INSTALLMENT

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I have started to receive feedback from students, many of whom have already begun to see the positive changes, even profound effects, in their bodies and their lives after a month or two of steady practice. I can’t describe how deeply touched I am at receiving this kind of feedback! This one stopped me dead in my tracks during the blur of another busy day and reminded me of why I’m doing what I’m doing – why I left my life and career in Seattle, why I believe in yoga, and why I believe in Nashville! Upon receiving the following email, I forced my 3 roommates (all dudes) to stop what they were doing and listen to me read it aloud with a little quiver in my lip and catch in my voice. :)

Dear Brooke,

Thank you for all of the shout-outs in class the other morning! I think I am starting to get the hang of things. After spending 6 years on and off hormones, trying to have a baby, and 70 lbs of weight gain, I had lost sight of the person I was…person I am. I was an avid runner and was in incredible shape mentally and physically. I have run 5 marathons, countless 1/2 marathons and races of every distance in between. I was thin…and being thin matters to me. It matters because that’s when I feel my best, look my best, am the best wife, sleep my best, eat my best, AM my best. I want be my very best for my beautiful new daughter. I want to give her a healthy image to look up to. I want to be the best I can be…I know I can’t be my best, overweight.

So, with that said, I know how to set goals and achieve them. However, until hot yoga, I wasn’t so sure I could ever set another fitness goal, much less achieve one. I tried running again…my giant milk-filled boobs stopped me dead in my tracks at, oh, about a 1/2 a block. I was devastated. I am a runner. My new body wouldn’t let me run? WTF? I was lost. Fat. Defeated. I looked like a joke in my running gear anyway, so why bother…at least, that’s what I told myself. So, I walked to Sweet 16th Bakery and grabbed a Danish…a delicious Danish! I felt better. Not really.

A few days later I “liked” your FB page and began googling “hot yoga” to see what it was all about. Remember, I am a runner. Runners don’t bend. Yoga was SOOOO foreign to me! After a few days of trying to talk myself out of it – mainly, because I thought I would look like a joke in yoga gear. I emailed you and soon went to my first class. I am so thankful for your encouraging words in those emails. They got me through the door. Better yet, your 6 am class made me sign on for a year! I have sweat off 7 lbs of, fat, stress, and defeat onto the floor of your studio. I am planning on shedding 42 more…in my favorite little corner of the yoga room.

YOGA: SEATTLE vs. NASHVILLE

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I’ve been here about 3 months now. On occasion, I have been asked, “what do you think of the yoga community in Nashville as compared to Seattle?”  Realizing that I had, in fact, made some observations, judgments, and comparisons between the two, I had not yet articulated them until one particular day when I was asked that question at a meeting of several established, local yoga studio owners and teachers. Talk about being put on the spot! Here I was, new to town, and having just opened my first studio. I was already wondering what they thought of me – I felt a hint of insecurity about being the new girl in town, new to owning a studio, and new to this yoga community but I quickly put those notions aside (yoga mentality!) and gave them the most honest answer that I could. For better or worse, I blurted out a few of the things that I had noticed. I will share and expand on those thoughts below.

1)      Yoga: Old News in Seattle; All the Rage in Nashville      

The very first thing I noticed is that yoga is HUGE in Nashville! Way bigger than I even knew when I committed to opening a studio here. It’s all happening! Right now! At least, that’s what it feels like to me. I’m sure it has been growing to this point for some time but it feels like yoga in Nashville is in its prime. People know about it, and they are interested in it, and they are willing to try it. It feels like yoga still holds a bit of mystery to Nashvillians but that it feels so accessible and approachable, such that even the manliest man will give it a whirl. :) In contrast, Seattle sees yoga as commonplace. Been there, done that. “Oh yeah, yoga? I used to do that a couple years ago.” It’s already on every corner, just like Starbucks. It’s an institution of Seattle but it’s definitely not that intriguing. People who haven’t tried it, are not very interested in trying it. They’ve walked by that studio on the corner for the last 5 years, and never looked inside. Yoga feels like it is still up-and-coming in Nashville, although it has definitely made waves already. The most exciting aspect is that it still has so much more room to grow and so many people to lure in. Kinda like East Nashville, hmmmm….

2)      A Devoted Practice: Do You Have It?

While Nashvillians take the lead with enthusiasm and open-mindedness, Seattle yogis seem to have stronger dedication to their practice and loyalty to their home studio. One huge difference that I’ve been shocked to find between Nashville yogis and Seattle yogis is that many Nashville yogis hop around from one studio to another; from one style of yoga to another; or worse, from a steady yoga practice to a nonexistent yoga practice. Again, this may stem from history of yoga in Seattle vs. that of Nashville. I taught and practiced with students who had been practicing for up to 15 to 25 years without intermission. I was a beginner with just 7 years of practice under my belt. Seattle yogis typically stick to one (maybe two) types of yoga and are in the studio 5 or 6 days a week. More interestingly, they practice at the same studio each and every day. Seattleites walk to yoga, bike to yoga, bus to yoga or drive to yoga but they would never dream of leaving their home studio to drive across town in order to get a Groupon deal at another studio. Unfortunately, I see Nashvillians wasting gas, money, time and energy driving all over tarnation just to “save” a buck. Not only is this harmful to the studios (making us compete against one another unnecessarily) but it is also harmful to one’s practice. I can see how driving across town to take a different type of class every couple of weeks could be renewing and revitalizing to your practice but driving across town in traffic every day is simply not sustainable.

Moreover, inconsistent/intermittent practice or studio hopping interrupts one’s practice and the community that should be developing within a studio. Yoga studios offer the student something to be a part of and lifelong friendships to be found.  As a teacher, you want to see your student grow, change and learn. We are all forming new friendships at the studio, and it is exciting to see students making improvements mentally and physically in their practice! I can only hope that I get to continue to watch my students grow and practice with them for years to come! Certainly, yoga is not cheap, and I am sensitive to that but I truly believe that everybody who wants to do yoga can either work trade for it or find a way to fit it into their budget. At Hot Yoga of East Nashville, unlimited yoga can be purchased for the cost of a cup of coffee per day or the cost of going out 2 or 3 nights per month. Let something go? Let yoga in. Commit to a dedicated practice, and yoga will change your life. Seems like a fair trade to me.  :)

Seattle Yoga and Nashville Yoga Collide

What would happen if the enthusiasm and intention of Nashville yogis met the dedication and steadfast determination of Seattle yogis? A yoga revolution, maybe? I would love to see more Nashvillian yogis take the chance to change from the inside out! Yoga is truly the fountain of youth but it must be practiced regularly – 4 to 5 times per week. Nashville needs yoga and yoga needs Nashville. Nashvillians need yoga to restore and strengthen their bodies and minds and help them to feel and be their best selves. Yoga will give Nashvillians the energy, focus and passion to BE and GIVE 100% to their music, their friends, their families and their community. Since Nashville is the IT place to be, and Nashville loves yoga, we can make yoga cool!! Bring it into focus for everyone to see and want to be part of – the revolution that improves health, happiness, and the world! Yoga for Everybody!

THE ROAD TO FLUFFO

The road to the Fluffo Building was not straight or flat. There were ups and downs and major bends that I could not see around. My patience was tested but my determination was strengthened beyond what I knew I possessed. I had been looking for a space since July. Very few options were out there and even fewer were even feasible for a yoga studio. Needless to say, I hadn’t found the right fit until November. I had an appointment to see “the Fluffo Building,” a space that my Realtor (who we’ll call R-1) was excited about and had arranged an appointment with the Realtor (R-2) representing the building owners. In typical Nashville form, I happened to sit next to Realtor #2 at the Family Wash one night while I was literally wandering the streets all alone and killing time until it was time to go to sleep. I overheard his conversation about businesses and buildings and butted right in. I was just curious what he did for a living. I found out that he was a realtor, so I mentioned that I had an appointment to view a building in a couple of days. He didn’t let on that he knew what I was talking about at first but then slyly indicated that HE was in fact the representing realtor. It turned out that my appointment would not have worked out and I would have never gotten to see Fluffo except for the fact that I had run into R-2 on that very night and butted into his conversation.

And so I saw the space the following morning, and it was THE ONE! I was immediately interested….. more like had to have it. I thought it would be as simple as that but 2 months after that day, I was still trying to sign a lease and felt like I was spinning my wheels trying to make something happen from across the country. Each passing day was literally excruciating as I waited and waited to receive a lease agreement in my inbox. Finally, I decided that I would have to take care of it in person. I booked myself a flight to Nashville to try to meet with the owners of the building. I had no appointment or guarantee that my trip would be profitable but I boarded that plane in faith. Once I arrived in Nashville, I was able to get an appointment to meet the owner’s of the building to discuss the possible lease. The meeting and the trip turned out to be worthwhile beyond expectation! After a round or two rapid-fire questioning (from the owners) of my plans and abilities to make this dream happen, I was finally able to convince them that I could do it. I understood where they were coming from – they were looking out for themselves and me. They didn’t want me to start something that I could not finish and just lose money. After a couple rounds of Fat Bottom beers, and discussions on that what’s, when’s, and how’s, it came down to a good old-fashioned handshake! Just what I would expect from Nashville, and just what I flew down there to get.

It also helped immensely that the one owner’s wife did hot yoga and was in full support of the business. As the owner later told me, he runs every potential business/tenant past his wife, and if she doesn’t like it, it doesn’t make the cut because “if the women don’t like a business, than it won’t succeed.” Well, it makes sense to me, and it worked in my favor.

And here we are today, about halfway through construction in my dream space – the Fluffo building. These are the walls. Soon we’ll be there practicing our Half Moon Pose, taking Savasanas, and making more friends over Fat Bottom beers and kombucha.

I BELIEVE IN NASHVILLE

In the words of Alan Jackson, “I’ve gone country!” or I’ve gone yogi.  Actually, a little of both.  One way or another, this Seattle girl is movin’ to Nashville to be around my most favorite music and to spend more time “on my mat,” as they say in yoga.  I’m coming to open a yoga studio, and it’s gonna be HOT, the yoga studio, that is.  I’m nearing the end of my 200-Hour Teacher Certification training, which has taken place in Nashville.  Now I’ve decided that I’ll go ahead and open a studio to offer Bikram-style hot yoga classes, as well as Vinyasa Flow.  We’ll get into why everyone should do more yoga and all the amazing benefits of hot yoga at a later date.  This here blog entry is about how I got here.

It all started about 2 years ago, the very first time I came to Nashville.  The moment I stepped onto Broadway and into my first Nashville Honky Tonk, it was love at first sight.  It was 11 on a Sunday morning, and I was looking to kill some time.  Thinking there wouldn’t be any  Honky Tonks open so early on a Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised to hear music coming from every bar on the strip, and found that one after another, each bar was filled of the best musicians I had ever heard!  So I guess that was the start of the dream, and every visit to Nashville since then has been filled with so much great music and inspiring musicians that it makes my heart want to explode a little but also made me want to be part of it.  It felt like home even before I realized what that feeling was, and most significantly, everyone welcomed me with open arms.  It seems like everywhere I go in Nashville, I meet the friendliest people, and every encounter seems to be pre-destined.  But my story is not all that unique.  Everyone in Nashville seems to have a story like this.  This great city has wooed every one of us and drawn us to be with her.

It wasn’t the hardest decision I’ve ever made It might just be the hardest decision I’ve ever made.  It took a bit of courage to think I could do it and even more to tell other people that I was going to do it.  There is a lot that I’m leaving behind but I guess the point is that I’m not leaving anything behind that I can’t come back to or keep in my heart in the meantime.  As many people have told me along the way, “nothing worthwhile is easy.”

It came down to this: I HAVE to do it.  East Nashville needs a Hot Yoga studio, and I’m excited to take this chance.  Owning a yoga studio has been a dream for years, and this is the perfect time to do it.  When I consulted my most wise friend about this crazy Nashville yoga idea, I complained to her that it was very risky and scary.  She simply said, “If anyone can do it, it’s you.”  I didn’t argue with her or feign modesty. I knew she was right.  So here I am.  Maybe it wasn’t by choice at all.  It’s undeniable, I believe in Nashville.