You know that feeling when you’re eating your morning oatmeal, and it’s good, but then one day you decide to throw in a few chocolate chips and it’s suddenly so much better? Those chocolate chips were everything you didn’t know you were missing.
Lyons Den Power Yoga is the handful of chocolate chips to my morning oatmeal.
I’ve been attending classes at LDPY since day one (really — I was there for the first-ever Thursday 7:15 PM class with Bethany), and every day I walk in and out of the studio is a day my life is further enriched, enhanced, and invigorated.
I know the reality is that Bethany and John opened the studio at the time that was right for them. But on a purely selfish (and, OK, delusional) level, I believe that they opened this studio just for me.
In June 2013, I was in a bad place. I had spent the bulk of the past year mostly bedridden (and bathroom-ridden, if we’re being honest here) on account of Crohn’s disease. My illness left me on medical leave from my job, and unable to leave my apartment.
I knew Bethany from Crunch, and then from SoulCycle. She quickly became my favorite instructor, and I missed her classes terribly when I was too sick to get to them. Somehow, Bethany noticed my absence from class, and insisted on making a house call.
I was hesitant to allow visitors because I was sick and depressed and didn’t want to answer the “How are you feeling?” question with the truth, which was “awful, miserable, and sad.” But, one Wednesday night that month, I let Bethany into my apartment. She came bearing gifts — an outfit, a candle, a playlist, and a great attitude. We talked for an hour or two, and that was the night she told me she and John were planning to open a yoga studio.
I woke up the next day with a new outlook. I was ready to fight. I was ready to get better. I was ready to work my way out of my depression, even if my body didn’t immediately follow suit.
By the time Lyons Den opened, I was still sick, but was regaining my old strength. I’m a runner — a marathoner — and I wasn’t able to run at the time. Yoga seemed easier. Gentler. More attainable. There was a bathroom in the studio, so some of my fears were soothed, and I knew that with Bethany leading the pack, I would be OK. (We’ll get to the “easier” part shortly.)
That first class kicked me so hard in the very best way. I was never a regular practitioner of yoga, but I was hooked to the Baptiste style right away. I loved how athletic it was, and how I felt like I was getting an incredible workout without leaving my mat. I loved the fast flow, the way my heart pounded out of my chest each time I came down from Wheel, and the way my arms and legs visibly shook as I tried descending the stairs at 279 Church Street. I couldn’t even hail a cab home; I was joyfully exhausted.
Soon, I expanded my class selection. I took classes with Jessica, Patrick, and Terri, and later eagerly signed up to practice with Sara, Brooke, Michelle, and Annie. I found my sweet spot in Crow, yelped with joy the first time I jumped back from Crow into Chaturanga (and then looked up at Terri like a puppy waiting to be fed to make sure she had witnessed it), and texted a picture of my first-ever Tripod Headstand to Bethany the moment it happened. I was making progress both in and out of the studio. All the while, I was getting healthier, stronger, and happier.
The greatest highlight of my Lyons Den journey was actually an out-of-studio experience. When I found out Bethany would be teaching at Solstice in Times Square, I knew I had to be there.
The class — which took place in the middle of Times Square — was almost exactly one year after Bethany first came to my apartment and changed my life. This day was a celebration for Lyons Den, and I was so proud to see Bethany leading the massive group in the middle of this vibrant city. I remember seeing John demonstrating up on the big screens in Times Square, and closing my eyes at the beginning of practice, tuning out the loud city noises and just hearing Bethany’s familiar, calming voice.
For one hour on my mat that day, I thought about how grateful I was to be happy and healthy, and “flipping my dog” onto a total stranger’s mat in Times Square. I felt more at ease than I had in years.
During my worst, most challenging time, Lyons Den and its community brought me back to life. The instructors always understood when I said I might have to leave mid-class to use the bathroom (sometimes multiple times per class), and I made a ton of new friends who supported and furthered my journey. Lyons Den changed the game.
I am forever grateful for Lyons Den and am so proud to call myself a yogi thanks to the LDPY team.
Cheers to year two — may it be filled with countless Downward Facing Dogs (love ’em), sporadic Leap Frogs (holy cardio!), and a whole lot of hard-earned savasana.
Namaste, Lyons Den. You’re the best kind of chocolate chip.