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Our very first “Den Love Story”

Our very first “Den Love Story”

Posted by on 5:56 pm in On Our Blog | 1 comment

By Alison Feller When Lyons Den opened its doors in November 2013, there were immediately quite a few “regulars.” Two of them were Michelle Swiatkowski and Andrew Bass. Michelle and Andrew—both now instructors at The Den—met on the mat. And eventually they talked to each other, which led to them spending time together beyond the studio, which led to a first kiss, and an eventual “I love you.” And on March 6, Michelle and Andrew got engaged! We are so excited to share their full love story here. (And hey, next time you catch eyes with that cute yogi a few mats down, strike up a conversation after class—love is in the air at The Den!) We know you two met at The Den—who sparked the first conversation? Andrew: I remember one day I arrived early for class, and Michelle set her mat up right behind me, so I just turned around and started talking to her. Michelle: I was talking to someone about attending Baptiste Level 3 training the following week, and Andrew chimed in that he had attended Level 1 earlier that year. What were your first impressions of each other? Andrew: I thought she was nice, and she was definitely a yogi. There was a part of me that thought she may be a bit of a “yoga snob”—after we first met, she continued to set up her mat away from mine…even when we were the only two people in the room! Michelle: I thought, “This guy is cute, he wants to talk to me, and he’s at yoga all the time. Score!” The more I talked to him, the more I realized I had a crush on him. Soon I started to get nervous when I saw him before class, and one day I remember him being the only one in the room, but I was too nervous to talk to my crush, so I put my mat kind of far from him. That made it awkward! Tell us about the first date. Andrew: She asked me out on Facebook! We planned to have a...

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“GIRL TALK”

“GIRL TALK”

Posted by on 5:47 pm in On Our Blog | 2 comments

guest blog by: Zovig Garboushian I was asked to do this blog post because of something I shared on Facebook as part of participating in the 40 Days to Personal Revolution (or 40 Days at the Den, as we called it) at Lyons Den. It was about a massive overhaul in my thinking about something I thought could never change—a love/hate, conditional relationship with my body. Here’s what I said: GIRL TALK: As a result of doing so much yoga, my physical body is changing. I’ve lost weight and tightened up. The beauty of this is that I WASN’T EVEN TRYING. I am proud to say that for the very first time in my 36.5 years, I have barely given thought to what my body is NOT and instead, TRULY BEEN LOVING what my body IS because of all it CAN DO: • a 90-second wheel • push-ups in wheel • planks for days • relentless dancers poses that go higher with each iteration • high-plank/low-plank like nothin’, AND, • enjoying the falling out The voice has calmed. This b*tch is strong. Can I get a AMEN?? I ACTUALLY GOT IT. It finally clicked. The key to loving my body—not just on a ‘skinny’ day, not just in that one dress, not just when I’m wearing heels—is to USE IT, ALL THE TIME. And, I discovered this by doing yoga. Listen up y’all: Yoga is hard. I know, because I do it almost every single day at the Den. But what I have witnessed each time I lay out that mat is that my body does exactly what I tell it to precisely as I ask. Contrary to my life-long internal dialogue, my body is not out to ruin my life. This knowledge is brilliant and life changing and revealed power I didn’t know I had. In the Program, I have made some definite physical changes—lost a little weight, gained strength, lightness, more grace and flexibility. But that wasn’t the overhaul I shared about. Instead, I recognized an incredible “shift in vision” about my body—I saw it from an...

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The Art of Den Assisting

The Art of Den Assisting

Posted by on 9:17 pm in On Our Blog | 0 comments

The Art of Assisting By Alison Feller What feels even better than opening up into Half-Pigeon toward the end of class? How about getting a hip massage while you’re down there? Or what about when you’re trying to finally nail that handstand, and suddenly there’s someone standing in front of you, ready to help steady your legs so you can hang out upside-down for a while? While you can do any yoga practice on your own, having someone there to offer assists during class can completely heighten and transform your experience—and can help you get into poses you never thought you’d do. But there’s much more to assisting than just helping students get deeper into poses. Here’s what all yogis should know about the art of assisting. (Spoiler: The instructors aren’t grossed out by touching your sweat. Really!) What role does assisting play in the Baptiste Yoga practice? Bethany Lyons, Lyons Den co-founder and instructor: We are all about empowering people on the mat, so powerful assists are a surefire way to do that if done with intention and great execution. We are a hands-on, inclusive community. What’s the methodology behind providing assists to students? How do you work the room? Bethany: In a large class, we work a “typewriter” style, giving one assist to each person. This makes assisting a part of the class in a seamless way, and it’s not about “fixing” only certain individuals, but rather empowering each person’s practice. We also “roam” from one place to another, looking for the opportunities to make a difference in a big way when work-shopping a pose. And obviously if a teacher sees a student doing something that could be dangerous to themselves or others around them, we move to assist them right away regardless of the “assisting plan.” We don’t adhere to the policy of having to assist someone on both sides of a pose, which is common in many studios. I look at it as teaching a student how to fish, rather than giving them the fish. If I give an assist to lengthen the spine and...

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Keep It Going: Sharing Love, Spreading Love, and Giving Love!

Keep It Going: Sharing Love, Spreading Love, and Giving Love!

Posted by on 9:42 pm in On Our Blog | 0 comments

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...

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Spreading the Love: Valentine’s Day at The Den

Spreading the Love: Valentine’s Day at The Den

Posted by on 6:09 am in On Our Blog | 0 comments

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....

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5 Ways Yoga Has Changed My Life Off the Mat

5 Ways Yoga Has Changed My Life Off the Mat

Posted by on 6:14 am in On Our Blog | 1 comment

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...

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Give Us 40 Days to Change Your Life

Give Us 40 Days to Change Your Life

Posted by on 9:52 pm in On Our Blog | 0 comments

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...

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5 Steps to Taking the Wiggle and Wobble Out of Balancing Half Moon

5 Steps to Taking the Wiggle and Wobble Out of Balancing Half Moon

Posted by on 3:37 am in On Our Blog | 0 comments

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...

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Embracing the Ohm

Embracing the Ohm

Posted by on 9:01 pm in On Our Blog | 0 comments

By Alison Feller “You have to come to yoga with me. It’s Baptiste yoga, so it’s cool yoga—really fast, athletic, intense. It’s a killer workout. Very New York-y. We don’t chant or sit on big wool blankets, and the class isn’t taught totally in Sanskrit. Oh, but we do say ohm at the beginning and end of class. Just FYI, in case that’s new to you.” I’ve found myself saying that over and over as I bring newcomers to Lyons Den. Yes, the Baptiste style of yoga we practice at Lyons Den is indeed what I think is pretty “cool” (even if it’s not cool inside the studio). And while we don’t do the chanting you may have experienced during other yoga practices, we do start and finish each class with a resounding ohm—or a series of three ohms, depending on the class. And while I’m not really into the chanting like you may have experienced during other yoga practices, I am really into the fact that we start and finish each class with a resounding ohm. (Though, confession: I used to just stand there during the ohm and listen to everyone else do it. Once I joined in, though, I was hooked.) But I’ve always wondered why we say ohm. Why is it a part of class—and is my ohm normal? So I asked Lyons Den instructors Meg McNeal and Julie Brazitis to share what you need to know about the ritual and why—if you’re new to the Den or intimidated by the ohm—you should open up and join the voices around you. What is the significance behind the ohm? “We chant ohm in most yoga practices—not just Baptiste. It is the original and most powerful mantra. It’s a universal sound and vibration that we use to clear the space and centralize the energy in the room. The ohm is the beginning and the end, and everything in between. It’s a vibration that connects us all and gets everyone on the same page.” —Meg McNeal What is the proper way to chant ohm? “There are three parts to...

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How to Master the Backbend: Camel Pose

How to Master the Backbend: Camel Pose

Posted by on 7:59 pm in On Our Blog | 0 comments

By Alison Feller There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a big, beautiful heart-opening, back-bending pose. Camel (Ustrasana) is a pose that stretches and expands nearly every part of the body—and it feels so good! But Camel can be intimidating at first for yogis who are new to being upside-down. Before you retreat to Child’s Pose in lieu of Camel (which we’re always fine with!), try these tips to push your fear aside, because you’re certainly not alone. While some people can easily and gently bend back into Camel, others feel dizzy or lightheaded during backbends. Lyons Den instructor Brooke Easton is a Camel pro—and these are her tips for success. 1. Make sure you’re warm. Camel will never be the first pose we tackle in class. But if you’re practicing at home, make sure your body is warmed up. 2. Slow down. “If you go into or out of a backbend too fast, it can cause dizziness,” Brooke says. “Camel usually comes after floor backbends like Locust and Bow.” Be careful not to launch yourself into or out of the pose too fast, since you’ve just shifted from lying on the ground to an upright kneeling position. 3. Set yourself up for success. “Align your knees at hip-distance, stacked directly under your hips. Bring your hands to your lower back with your fingers pointing up and scoop your tailbone down toward the ground. Draw the base of your shoulder blades together and, as you inhale, lift out of your low back and expand your chest toward the sky,” Brooke says. 4. Bend, not hinge. As you lift your chest toward the sky and backward, make sure you’re doing a true backbend instead of hinging at the waist with a straight back. 5. Stay aware. Don’t close your eyes! 6. Feeling OK? Go further. “Slowly reach behind you, one hand at a time, to grab your ankles,” Brooke advises. [Or grab your heels, with the toes tucked for added support!] 7. Maintain perspective. “Listen to your body,” Brooke says. “If you’re dizzy, take Child’s Pose and try again another...

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