Month: February 2015
By Alison Feller
Ah, Valentine’s Day is over. A day to give, share, and spread love. A day to do nice things for your loved ones, and maybe even throw a few random acts of kindness into the mix (though really, can we advocate for this every day?). And amidst the movie dates, the hand holding, the chocolate eating (nothing wrong with that!), and the card swapping, did you give love to the most important person in your life?
Over Valentine’s and beyond, we get wrapped up doing nice things for others, which is a wonderful thing—but we definitely don’t spend enough time giving back to ourselves. And it’s absolutely crucial to bask in some much needed “me time” on occasion. Here’s how some of the Den instructors and staff members embrace the oh-so-important self-love.
“I have become very good at creating time for myself, giving myself permission to not be in ‘do’ mode, and not should-ing myself. When I get a free evening, I take the opportunity to restore. I get myself a Guinness or some wine, make popcorn, cuddle up in bed and watch ‘Sex and the City’ reruns. It’s perfection.”
—Meg McNeal, Lyons Den instructor
“I love treating myself to a mani-pedi with some Starbucks and a good magazine. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s like a mini vacation!”
—Veronica Naughter, Lyons Den instructor
“Physical activity allows me to drop all the stress from the day and get out of my head. I typically go for a run with speed intervals thrown in or—of course—head to The Den for a yoga class. By the end, I feel completely refreshed. Though there are some days when nothing says self-love like turning on a social justice documentary while drinking a glass of wine—maybe two glasses if I need a little extra love!” —Colby Dillon, Lyons Den assistant and Karma Team leader
“Yoga. I know, big shocker, but it’s true! When I’m having ‘one of those days’ and my friends or coworkers are suggesting I need to join them at happy hour, I prefer to get myself to a class. There’s nothing like an intense, sweaty, freeing practice to completely separate myself and my mind from my day-to-day responsibilities. Otherwise, there’s nothing like plopping myself down in front of the TV to watch some easy yet educational programming—like the Discovery Channel or the Food Network. It makes me feel good because I get to watch some TV and learn something.”
—Andrew Bass, Lyons Den Instructor
“Because my husband typically works at night, I’m home with the baby after work. After she goes down for the night, I make it a point to enjoy my own quiet time. No TV, no music, no work emails. I either read or do something somewhat mindless like paint my nails or do my eyebrows. When I get time to myself out of the house, I’ll go to yoga, and then get a massage. No fancy spa massage—I like the strong Chinese ladies who really get the knots out!”
—Camille Heller, Lyons Den instructor and assistant
“To be fair, I like to participate in this a little too often! I start almost every day with positive affirmations. I pick three, plan out how my day will look, visualize it, and then make it happen. Those few minutes make my day that much better; they lift me up. The rest of a perfect self-love day would include teaching yoga to my amazing students, taking a yoga class, a full day of shopping, an amazing massage, and a fabulous dinner with my girlfriends (sushi, a glass of Prosecco or red wine, and a little dark chocolate for dessert).”
—Annie Fisco, Lyons Den instructor
By Alison Feller
If Valentine’s Day is about showing love, giving love, and receiving love—and maybe getting a little sweaty, too—what better place to celebrate than at the Den? We’ve got a stellar lineup on tap for the entire Valentine’s Day weekend, so come in solo, with your girlfriends or guyfriends, or with your best loved one. We promise the love will be flowing with every sun salutation! Here’s what’s happening throughout the weekend…
Friday, February 13: Live “Love Beats” with Sara Packard and Charlene Lite, 7:30 PM. Kick off the weekend with instructor Sara Packard accompanied by the amazing live music of singer/songwriter (and yogi!) Charlene Lite. Sign up online or call the studio to reserve your spot.
Friday, February 13 & Saturday, February 14: Attend any class on February 13 or on Valentine’s Day and receive a “Valentine” from us: a free class pass to give to a friend or loved one. Share your love of yoga with a first-time Den-goer!
Sunday, February 15: “Basic to Badass Backbends” workshop with Meg McNeal, 1:30 PM. Join instructor Meg McNeal for a two-hour workshop focusing on the ultimate heart-openers. All levels are welcome — no relationship status required! Sign up online under “Enrollments” or call the studio to reserve your spot. $49.
By Alison Feller
As a runner, I’ve always been told I “need to do yoga.” The physical benefits are immeasurable and produce tremendous results directly related to running and racing. Yoga makes you faster, stronger, and healthier.
I didn’t start doing yoga just to get faster, stronger, and healthier, though. I started doing yoga because Bethany and John opened a studio, and that sounded like something I would want to be a part of. I was hooked after exactly one minute of my first class.
Since I began my regular practice at Lyons Den, I’ve discovered that the benefits of yoga go far beyond the studio. The other day, during a particularly crowded downtown commute, I was inspired to lean slightly away from the strangers’ armpits to my left and right, and frantically start writing on my phone. With that, I present to you: The 5 Ways Yoga Has Changed My Life—Off the Mat!
1. I am much nicer on public transportation, in line at Fairway, and while waiting on a very crowded street corner on upper Fifth Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve lived in New York City for 7+ years, and I have never been the patient person on the sidewalk or the nice girl on the subway. Sure, I give up my seat for pregnant, elderly, or disabled people—and I do it with a smile, I swear—but I’m generally annoyed when I’m rushing around this crowded city and people are “in my way.”
I remember being in class at Lyons Den not long after it had opened. Bethany was teaching, and while we were flowing she talked about being nicer on public transportation. Being more patient, more kind, more compassionate. And it struck a chord with me. Why was I being so rude to and angry with these total strangers? We’re all in this together—we’re all the reason this city is so crowded and the lines at Fairway are down the block before a snowstorm.
You never know someone’s story. You never know what someone has been through or is in the midst of when you decide to shove an elbow in his or her direction for not walking briskly enough on the sidewalk…near Rockefeller Center…at Christmastime. Bethany teaches us to embrace community and to work together—and that certainly shouldn’t stop when we exit the doors at 279 Church Street.
2. I accept my mistakes—which I sometimes think of as failures—learn from them, and move on. It starts with a pose. I get into it—handstand, for example, which I’m working on right now—and then I come crashing down. Instead of being embarrassed and beating myself up, I figure out why it happened. Maybe my arms weren’t strong enough, or I wasn’t “hugging skin to muscle to bone.” OK, cool. So then I’ll try again. Maybe it works this time, or maybe not. But the “failed attempt” is behind me. And it’s not a failure, it’s a lesson. That’s why they call this a yoga practice, right? The same is true in life far beyond yoga. Maybe a job didn’t work out, or you pitched a client who wasn’t into your creative and totally gutsy vision. Fine. You didn’t fail—you just practiced being awesome.
3. I hate my body a lot less. I grew up a competitive dancer, surrounded by mirrors. I don’t remember a single day since age 7 that I didn’t think I was—or worse, that I didn’t call myself—“fat.” Yikes, I know. I was never skinny enough to be in the dance world, and I had a teacher who would remind me that I “would be able to jump higher if I were carrying less weight.” Totally encouraging. Eventually I transitioned from dancing to running, and my body completely changed. I was more lean and muscular, and slightly less critical. But it wasn’t until I started doing yoga that I truly began to appreciate my body not for how it looked, but for what it could do. I can do crow, tripod headstand, wheel, and a solid handstand prep. I am strong. And I have the best savasana around. (Seriously. I’m amazing at it.)
4. I’m much more patient. For years, my fiancé has told me to stop stressing over the things I can’t control. It’s great advice that I have always decided to fight and ignore. I’m a real sweetheart in that way. But go figure, when Bethany preached similar wisdom, I was all about it. So now, as I write this on a packed downtown 6 train, I am accepting that I may not be my desired 15 minutes early for my 9:30 AM class. Can I change that? Can I make the subway start moving? Nope. But I can accept it, and move on. Why waste energy on something I can’t change when I could be using those forces to work toward what’s possible?
5. I have abandoned my comfort zone. Like, completely left it in the dust. This started with simple things, like lifting into crow, and then trying jump-back from crow, and eventually going for a headstand and handstand. I learned that the worst thing that will happen is I’ll fall out of the pose. And then I can try again.
Lyons Den instructor Terri Bahr is always telling students that she loves when they fall, because it means they really went for it and tried something new, something daring. Eventually I became willing to let myself fall during classes all the time. I remember one particularly loud thud that was the result of an over-eager low-lunge twist. Was it a little embarrassing? Yes. Did a bunch of other people in class abandon their drishtis and turn to see what the noise was? Um, yup. But I survived, I got back up, and I got right back to twisting. This newfound gutsiness left the studio with me, and got me to finally quit the job where I was unhappy so I could seek out much bigger, bolder, more badass pursuits. It was a scary move, but a tremendously exciting one.
So basically, yoga has made me kinder, I’ve learned to pick my battles, and I’ve made major progress in my self-love life. Oh, and I did get faster, stronger, and healthier. Go yoga.
By Alison Feller
It’s been said that it takes 40 days to change or break a habit. This is the principle behind Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution book and breakthrough program, and we are so excited to be bringing our own program to Lyons Den!
The 40-day challenge will begin February 17, and is designed to radically shift your energy, body, and soul. Lyons Den co-founder Bethany Lyons will be leading the charge and guiding the program. Here’s what she had to say about who needs this program (“everyone!”), what we’ll be doing at the Den, and how it changed her own life.
What are the basic principles behind the 40-day program? Do you just take a class every day, or is there more to it?
For 40 days, you commit to the program, which involves asana (the physical practice of yoga), meditation (we give you access to guided ones!), and inquiry (journaling questions). You will practice asana six times a week and meet with your fellow 40 days community once a week at the studio. The first week begins with just 20 minutes of yoga a day, and can be done at the studio or by doing a podcast at home. Each week builds so it’s completely doable and accessible even for total beginners.
There’s also a nutritional component to the program, right?
Yes, we focus on the body and how it functions as a whole, bringing a balanced diet into play. Our health is everything, and we punish our bodies on a fairly consistent basis. We’ll do a three-day fruit cleanse—which is more fun than anything! It takes us out of our normal habits, out of our comfort zones, and forces us to look at what we are using to fuel our bodies. Awareness and choice are at the forefront—not a strict diet.
Surely everyone and anyone can gain something from this program. But what types of people do you see needing this the most or being able to gain the most from it?
Everyone. Seriously. Particularly those who want to step up to a bigger game in their lives on and off the mat. Grappling with a career change or a relationship change? Want to kick-start a health, wellness, and body makeover? Have a great idea but don’t know what to do about it? Not feeling particularly inspired lately, or feeling lethargic, stuck, stressed, or unfocused? All those people—they will all benefit.
You’ve done this program yourself before, as a participant! How did it impact your life?
I have a lot more time in the day than I actually thought I did! This discovery was shocking, actually. It made me feel that I can do anything I put my mind to in a very real way. I did 40 Days on my road to opening the studio, and it served as one of my catalysts.
I personally am so excited to be doing this with members of the Den community, and I’m excited to invite in new members. I’m looking forward to getting to know each participant better, and to create something truly transformational together. It is my promise to each and every person that signs up that you will be supported in one way or another daily in this program.
Is there anything else we should know before we all rush to sign up?
Well most importantly, there’s a finale celebration together at the end! You’ll get swag. (Saturday, March 28)
Call the studio at 646-490-8888 to commit to the 40 Days to Personal Revolution Program today, or join us for a free information session on Sunday, February 15, at 11:30 AM.
The program begins February 17 and runs through March 28. Cost is $119 for unlimited monthly members, and $349 for non-unlimited members. This fee includes 40 days of unlimited yoga at the Den, Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to Personal Revolution book, guided meditations, personalized coaching, and six weekly 60-minute group meetings, which will be held Tuesdays at 8:30 PM.
By Alison Feller
Nailing Balancing Half Moon pose—Ardha Chandrasana—is such an empowering feeling. But no one ever popped right into Half Moon for the first time without a little wiggle and wobble along the way.
Lyons Den instructor Terri Bahr is a Half Moon pro (it’s her favorite pose!). “In Half Moon, two opposing movements are happening at once: You’re rooting down into the earth with your standing leg while simultaneously lifting and extending your raised leg and arm,” Terri says. “The pose perfectly embodies the unique balance you need to navigate the twists and turns of life.” Balancing Half Moon is about more than lifting your back leg and hoping to get lucky with a solid drishti and stable balance. Read on for Terri’s five steps to mastering Half Moon.
1. Build the pose from the ground up. Begin by standing at the top of your mat. Ground down through the four corners of your right foot. Place your right hand down on a diagonal to the outside of your right foot. You can also place your right hand on a block to bring the floor closer to you.
2. Place your left hand on your left hip. Align your left shoulder on top of your right shoulder.
3. Now that you have that alignment, press firmly into your right foot and hand. Straighten your right leg while simultaneously lifting your left leg parallel to the floor, or even higher than your hips. Stack your left hip on top of your right hip, and flex your left foot, reaching actively through your left heel. Keep your right toes and kneecap facing forward without locking your right knee.
4. Extend your left arm up, and point your fingertips directly toward the sky. If you can balance comfortably there, turn your head and gaze at your left thumb. Then expand in all directions.
5. Hold for up to one minute using a constant Ujjayi breath in and out. To release, bend both knees and lower your left foot onto the mat to meet your right foot. Grounding down with both feet, bend your knees, tuck your chin to your chest, and slowly roll up to standing. Then repeat on the left side!
“This is one of my favorite yoga poses because it reflects the shifts we encounter off the mat,” Terri says. “Since we can’t always control what life tosses our way, the next best thing is how we control the shift. As yogis, we know that it can sometimes be easier to go with the flow than to fight every step of the way. So don’t be afraid to fall down! It’s part of the process. If you lose your balance and fall out of Half Moon—or any pose—it calls your attention to refocusing and reconnecting with your breath. It’s the same in daily life: When you get distracted, come back to your breath and be in the present moment. Set up, and try again.